Updated: Oct 28, 2020
By: Christopher Alvarez
Adelphi's first-ever Hoyer lift machine, pictured in Swirbul Library, promotes equal access to individuals on campus with a physical mobility disability.
Often the word “freedom” becomes nonexistent because we rely heavily on other people to help us accomplish daily tasks or simply because our voices are not heard enough. This is what disabled individuals usually struggle with, however Adelphi University (AU) is different.
In their email signature, the Student Access Office writes, "There is no greater disability in society, than the inability to see a person as more," as a reminder that there shouldn’t be such a thing as inequality and that everybody is valuable in their own way.
Here at AU, one voice equals one change. This is how Adelphi and the Student Access Office (SAO) strives to be one of the most inclusionary college campuses on Long Island.
“Student’s voices matter and they are stronger than students probably think,” said Brian Flatley, MS ’19, associate director of the SAO. “When Julia first came to me, I said fantastic! Now I have a student’s voice to back up what we would like to do.”
He was talking about Julia Lincoln. With just seven months at Adelphi, Lincoln is already leaving her wheel-print as a spinal muscular atrophy and Hoyer lift advocate, by helping Adelphi install its first ever machine that promotes equal access to individuals on campus with a physical mobility disability.
Flatley described the new transfer system addition as, “a mechanism that allows persons who lack mobility in their lower or upper extremities to safely use the facilities by transporting them from their mobile device to any which way they’d like to go.”
The Hoyer lift can be remote-controlled and should be used with some help from a personal care attendant to ensure an easy and risk-free transfer.
Not only does this new installment accommodate the physical needs others might have, it is also an extra push to the freedom of the disabled community, relieving them from always having to ask for full assistance.
“It helps me become more independent without having to put that strain on my aides, of always picking me up,” said the 18-year-old Lincoln.
As of now, the first Hoyer lift has been placed in one of the first-floor accessible restrooms of Swirbul Library, but it will not stop there. The university is working towards its goal of creating an all accessible campus by expanding this adaptable equipment to the resident halls and possibly in the new renovated University Center.
“So that students who come to live on campus can safely get to their bed and visitors can safely maneuver themselves in our facilities,” said Flatley.
Lincoln and SAO are similar in their efforts to eliminate barriers and improve accessibility in their environment. They are both determined to spread happiness and equality in their community as this duo is a prime example of how teamwork makes the dreamwork.
“It’s music to my ears when a student comes to me and advocates for a specific device to ensure they have a safer or a more barrier-free environment to live and learn at Adelphi,” said Flatley.
Lincoln, a nursing major, said she always felt some type of satisfaction in making others feel good, “I always liked to help people, '' she said. “I volunteered at a hospital last year and I enjoyed working with the kids, helping them out and seeing the smile on their faces.”
The Hoyer lift is just another reason to feel safe, equal and work together to bring more smiles as Adelphi surges to new inclusionary heights. Change only needs one person and doubts generate motivation. Disabled doesn’t mean unable. It simply means that we do things differently.
When campus re-opens, be sure to check out the new device implemented on the first-floor restrooms of Swirbul Library, and don’t be afraid to advocate for your needs. SAO needs voices like yours and when in doubt, remember what Lincoln said: “If someone says you can’t do something or doesn’t believe in you, prove them wrong because you probably can.”