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Campus gets grant to improve accessibility

SPRINGFIELD -- The University of Illinois Springfield is getting more than a half million dollars from the state.
SPRINGFIELD -- The University of Illinois Springfield is getting more than a half million dollars from the state. The money will go toward making campus more accessible for people with disabilities. WCIA-3's Ashely Michels finds out what kinds of upgrades are in store.

They're adding more features. There's already special parking and wheelchair ramps, so that way more of campus is accessible. There will be some new things too which students say will make life a whole lot easier.

Alicia Woodman is a freshman at UIS. She's studying to be a paralegal, which is a lot of work. But, Woodman has a few extra challenges to overcome.

"I'm by myself a lot and going around, it's not that easy when it's not accessible."

She relies on a wheelchair to get around. Most of the time, she says, it isn't a problem, but not everywhere is completely modified.

"Some doors of my classrooms aren't accessible and they're really heavy and I have to have help opening them."

That's why the state is chipping in for updates. The campus is getting more accessible restrooms and drinking fountains, new audio systems and signage for the visually-impaired and more parking.

"It'll make it a lot easier and a lot more accessible here."

Woodman says making the move to campus isn't easy for a student in a wheelchair.

"I've heard a lot of people, that's their thing is that they want to stay at home because they don't know of anywhere that's very accessible and that's one of the reasons I picked UIS."

She hopes the upgrades will inspire other students to do the same.

"It's just going to contribute to the overall feeling of warmth and welcoming when students come to visit and, if they see a more-accessible campus, they're going to be more likely to want to come to UIS."

The campus will also be getting safety upgrades in the science lab. The project is scheduled to get underway next month.
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