The 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Games came to a meaningful close on March 18. There were 570 players from 49 countries participating in the games, the biggest Paralympic Games in its history. Inspiring tales of athletes such as Shin Eui-Hyun and the members of the mixed curling team sparked the public’s interest. However, despite the Paralympics’ success, the games garnered merely lukewarm reception from the general public, as the games received very little media coverage by the Korean broadcasters. The lack of interest in the Paralympic Games reflects the overall feeling of disinterest in the issue on a national scale. The general social atmosphere of neglect concerning issues regarding disabled people in Korea is also observable on campus. In a series of student interviews on the awareness of disability-related issues on campus, many expressed a common “feeling of unintended indifference” in the school community as opposed to a heightened awareness of feminism and genderrelated issues. This, many students claimed, was due to the school’s special character as a university for women - another traditionally oppressed group. “Moreover, unlike gender-related issues, with which the vast majority of the Ewha population can empathize, disability-related issues are truly hard to relate to,” said a student from the College of Education. “This renders the handicapped a ‘true minority’ and easily labels their everyday issues as separate from those of our own.” Having established that the dominant attitude adopted by most students on disability issues was “the need for higher awareness,” they were asked what specific improvements can be made to ameliorate the welfare of the handicapped population in school. “What the school claims it provides for the handicapped differs from what is really available,” said a junior from the Division of International Studies. “For instance, on the school homepage, it is stated that handicapped and injured people have their own allotted parking spaces. However, in reality, many school buildings do not have adequate parking spaces in the first place.” In addition, the manager of the Support Center for Students with Disabilities Scholarship Welfare pointed out a few problems of some buildings on campus. “The doors are so heavy that students with physical disabilities are unable to open them without help,” the manager said. “This is specifically so in the Ewha Campus Complex (ECC), the Ewha-POSCO Building, and the dorms, where doors are large, blockedglass with imposing and heavy metal handles.” Recently, there was a freshman who attached her student ID at the end of a long stick so that she could open doors to enter buildings despite being wheelchair-bound. Students who use wheelchairs currently need student helpers to open heavy doors prior to their entrance. The assistants hope that all doors become automatic. Students collectively agreed on the necessity to revive the “awareness campaign” held by the Support Center for Students with Disabilities Scholarship Welfare, which was held offline until 2012, when it was transformed into an online project. However, the Center, which was established in 2008, explains that its principal job is to help guarantee and protect handicapped students’ right to an education. Therefore, the Center mediates meetings between advisors of students with disabilities at the beginning and end of every semester. At the start of each semester, files related to providing support for disabled students are distributed to professors. Professors can also personally contact the workers of the support center to consult about specific information concerning each student. The school provides various support systems, including teaching and learning support, college life support, and employment support, that are adjusted based on the individual characteristics of students. However, the assistants and the students hope that the future will bring better facilities oriented toward students with disabilities.
Kim So-jung firstname.lastname@example.org