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University of Iowa News Release

May 14, 2003

UI Law Students Help Kernels, Hoover Site Become More Accessible

The University of Iowa College of Law's Legal Clinic recently helped the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site in West Branch make their facilities more accessible to persons with disabilities.

A group of UI law students in the clinic visited the two sites with members of the Johnson County Coalition of Persons with Disabilities and the Conner Center for Independent Living Rights and Resources to provide employee training and to show how to make facilities more accessible to all people.

"Both organizations were very open to us and are making a priority of improving their service to customers who are disabled," said Len Sandler, a UI law professor and director of the law clinic.

The group met with Kernels staff members just before the start of this year's baseball season to provide training to staff members so they can help persons who are disabled better enjoy the game and get around Veterans Stadium.

"We had an open discussion of sensitivity issues and how employees should treat all customers with respect," said Steph LeClere, a second-year law student who was part of the team. "We hoped to impress upon them how important it is to meet the needs of fans with disabilities and to provide appropriate accommodations."

Jack Roeder, Kernels general manager, said the training session was helpful for the team's staff to think in new ways about providing good service to many Kernels fans.

"It was a great learning experience," he said. "We learned lots of new ideas about helping all of our fans, and they will be very helpful especially in ticketing and stadium operations. There's a demand and a need for these services at our facility, and we're committed to meeting it."

The group also visited the U.S. National Park Service's Hoover Historic Site in West Branch to assess accessibility issues in the site's collection of 19th century buildings. Dan Peterson, the site's education specialist, said the visit was helpful.

"It opened my eyes about some of the things we overlook because we never look at the site from the perspective of someone in a wheelchair or with another disability," he said. "For instance, the main visitor's desk in our visitor's center is too tall so that someone in a wheelchair can't look over it, and the shelves in our gift shop are such that it's difficult for people with certain disabilities to take merchandise."

He said the site administrators are already taking steps to make the facility more accessible and have already ordered new shelving for the gift shop.

The other UI law students involved in the site visits were William Myhill and Steve Spiegel, both second year students.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu.