sealPurdue News

March 5, 2002

Purdue student shares his view of campus to improve accessibility

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – March is Disabilities Awareness Month, and Purdue University student Scott Kempf is driving home the point to help raise awareness of the challenges faced by students with disabilities.

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Kempf, a senior in organizational leadership and supervision who relies on an electric scooter to navigate the campus, recently teamed up with Professor James McGlothlin and an interdisciplinary team at Purdue to record his daily encounters. The information will be used to make the campus more accessible.

"Though the Purdue campus is designed to be accessible, everyday events – such as a parked car at the loading dock or snow piled at the curb – can become obstacles for Kempf and others with disabilities," says McGlothlin, associate professor of health sciences. "Our hope is that, by viewing the campus through Scott's eyes, we can find places to make the campus even more accessible."

Kempf, of Indianapolis, started his student career at Purdue in the fall of 1995 as an engineering student. During his freshman year, he developed a brain stem tumor. After three surgeries and more than 20 radiation sessions, Kempf lost his coordination and balance, forcing him to rely on a walker or scooter.

McGlothlin's group equipped Kempf's scooter with a customized recording device to catalog the cart's movements when it is in motion. Ryan Traylor, a first-year graduate student in engineering, built the recording system by rewiring a video recorder. A small video camera, mounted to the front of Kempf's scooter, sends images to the recorder. A clock, placed within view of the camera lens, records the time and date of the travel. A digital tape recorder, attached to the handle of the scooter, allows Kempf to describe in detail any obstacles he encounters. The video camera, clock and tape recorder are all time synchronized to make it easier for McGlothlin's team to catalogue events and form a database of Kempf's activities.

McGlothlin plans to collect a month's worth of data from Kempf's scooter activities. The information will then be presented to Owen J. Cooks, ADA facilities coordinator at Purdue, to review what adjustments might be made on campus.

The project is funded by a Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation Health Promotion grant.

Writer: Susan Gaidos, (765) 494-2081;

Source: James McGlothlin, (765) 496-6359,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Purdue University student Scott Kempf (left) prepares to leave his residence hall room to brave the single-digit temperatures outside as James McGlothlin, associate professor of health sciences, makes a final adjustment to the recording device on his scooter. The videorecorder is custom-designed to record any obstacles in Kempf's path as he navigates across campus. Valerie Perez, a graduate student in industrial hygiene who communicates with Kempf daily to keep him supplied with videotape and batteries, watches. McGlothlin and Perez are cataloging the data to find ways to make the Purdue campus more accessible to students with disabilities. (Purdue News Service Photo by David Umberger)

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