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WELCOME TO THE ADVENTURES OF A DISABLED STUDENT AT NIU

Hello, my name is James G. Wilson (most folks just call me Jim), and I am legally blind due to something called "congenital cataracts" in both eyes. Although I am legally blind, I've always had an aptitude for science and decided to attend Northern Illinois University (NIU) to study Meteorology in the spring of 1994. I knew I would have certain difficulties in the Met. program, but I never thought for a minute I would have to go through the pains and horrors of such a corrupted and discriminatory administrative system as the one in place at NIU. If you're wondering why I would say such a thing about a public University, keep reading these pages to see just exactly how corrupted NIU's system is.


This is the story of how Northern Illinois University has managed to swindle me out of nearly $13,000.00 by not only not living up to its advertisement regarding the "equal opportunity" for students with disabilities, but also by blatantly lying about such shortcomings after being confronted about them. My problems centered around a computer systems administrator for the Geography Department by the name of James B. Moore, who decided to let his prejudiced mind guide his decision to lie to the University about the lack of accessible computers for persons with disabilities in the Geography Dept. lab facilities. This problem is compounded by the fact that the Geography Dept. failed to follow "Official University Policy" back in August of 1991 when it decided that it would not comply with a directive handed down by NIU President John La Tourette declaring that all NIU computer facilities must contain at least one computer workstation adapted for the needs of the physically disabled. To see the memo that was issued by the President's Office regarding this new official policy, click here.

If all this wasn't bad enough, my troubles increased exponentially after I contacted the campus office that is supposed to advocate for students with disabilities. The office is called the Center for Access-Ability Resources (CAAR), and the visual coordinator is a woman by the name of Linn Sorge. I approached her on July 5, after getting nowhere with the Geography Dept. about my requests for accessibility in these computer labs. Not only was she of no help to me in gaining the necessary access, she further hindered my progress due to her lack of professionalism regarding her superiors and agents for the State of Illinois. Linn Sorge has a well-known bitterness toward her supervisor, Nancy Kasinski, because Ms. Kasinski was promoted to the supervisor's position instead of her. This kind of bitterness led Ms. Sorge to constantly belittle Ms. Kasinski behind her back to anyone who'd listen. Since Ms. Kasinski knew this was going on, she would not cooperate with Ms. Sorge's requests and recommendations. For Ms. Kasinski's part in the unprofessional atmosphere at CAAR, one only needs to hear her beliefs about the needs of the visually impaired students at CAAR. Click here to hear her explanation of why visually impaired students won't get any new equipment while she is in charge of CAAR. Another aspect of Ms. Kasinski's lack of professionalism involves the fact that she talks to people outside the University about students' cases. She even admits that she did this, at least in my case. To hear her admission, click here I hope that you can now see why I eventually abandoned any hope of letting CAAR assist me in receiving the equipment I needed in the Geography Dept. labs.

Here are some links to articles and editorials that have been published in NIU's school newspaper- The Northern Star about my (and other people's) problems with CAAR and NIU's lack of commitment to the needs of the physically challenged.

This is a set of three in-depth articles published October 5, 6, & 9, 1995 about the problems disabled students face at NIU and CAAR
Out In The Cold
Campus Pitfalls Hinder Disabled
The Failed System
Here are some more articles written by the Northern Star staff reporters.
Physical Disabilities...*not available*
Students Joined Forces to Protest
NIU Speaks- On Disabilities...

Here is the followup editorial I wrote- the first of two open letters to the NIU President
An Open Letter to NIU President John La Tourette
An Open Letter to President La Tourette

Here are two editorials written by Doug Anzlovar- a student worker at CAAR
The CAAR Office Needs to Work on Physical Disabilities
Worker Showed Insensitivity Toward Blind Student

Here are two more editorials written by other NIU students with physical disabilities.
Editorial Was Only Tip of the Iceberg on Disabled Access- by Terry Bowers *unavailable*
Clarification Is Needed Here- by Jennifer Eustace

Here are some of my other (less subtle) attempts to make NIU aware of my problems.
Disabled Poorly Treated
Problems Keep Going Unresolved
Open CAAR Debate Is Needed
The Scam of the Century
Slogan Aims At Change
La Tourette Sees Students Who Won't Ask For Anything- (12/06/95) Although published, it too vanished from the archives
Commission Misses Its Target

In all fairness, here are the links to the only published opposition to all of these articles.
Please note: These articles were written by students with hearing impairments and with learning disabilities. Neither of these disabilities were mentioned in ANY of the above articles.
CAAR Offers Many Services
Students Support CAAR

Here is a link to "World Association of Persons with Disabilities" (WAPD) who are featuring this web site on their home page under "Members Up Close". I hope that you'll take some time to browse through their pages, as they have some wonderful links to important disabilities information.

The rest of the story goes pretty much to the same tune. I maneuvored my case through every internal level of NIU's appeals process to try to resolve my case. I was met with nothing but lies and cover-ups for my efforts. Click here to see my full documentation of what I had to go through. I finally left NIU after losing 2 years and $13,000.00 because it just became fruitless to continue trying to get an education from an institution that disrespects its students so blatantly.

It is my hope that, after having read these pages, people will begin to realize that persons with disabilities can contribute to the community in a variety of ways if provided with assistive technology. In the long run, it is much more cost effective to purchase this assistive technology than it is to make disabled persons spend their lives subsisting on Federal and State programs such as Social Security and Public Aid. Thank you for tuning in to my plight at NIU. If you have any questions, you can e-mail me at: phaedrus@npwt.net