Despite Lacking Sight, Some Still Harbor a Vision for Columb... | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation
News & Events Header

Teachers College Newsroom

Skip to content Skip to content

Despite Lacking Sight, Some Still Harbor a Vision for Columbia

Despite Lacking Sight, Some Still Harbor a Vision for Columbia

Cyril Phatshwane, a master’s student at Teachers College, is blind. Forty-three years old and with a wife and kids back home in Botswana, he is pursuing a master’s degree in the teaching of students with visual impairments. He takes classes, teaches, and uses a computer. According to his roommate, Michael Feyen, Phatshwane is highly independent and “an excellent cook.”
 
There is just one problem—due to the city’s refusal of his request to install an audible traffic signal at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 120th Street, Phatshwane cannot even cross the street.  Phatshwane and Feyen first requested an audible traffic light on Aug. 9. On Oct. 22, they received a letter from the New York City Department of Transportation rejecting their request. The department cited, as its reason, the fact that “such lights are generally installed near facilities for the visually impaired and at intersections that would present difficulties for pedestrians with visual disabilities to cross safely and effectively.”
 
As an international student, Phatshwane had the added challenge of adjusting to a disability in a new country. “Especially when you’re an international student, it’s a bit frustrating and demoralizing if people don’t care,” he said. He expressed frustration with Columbia’s approach to diversity, saying, “Columbia prides itself on being a university that respects diversity, but I don’t think they care.”
 
DeborahGroeber whom is an alumni of Columbia said there is room for improvement. “People need more exposure, experience, and education about people with disabilities,” she said. “The University can help by providing reasonable accommodation and by integrating people with disabilities—possibly having more faculty members or staff with disabilities.”
 
This article appeared in the November 9, 2007 edition of the Columbia Spectator.
 

Published Monday, Nov. 19, 2007

Despite Lacking Sight, Some Still Harbor a Vision for Columbia

Despite Lacking Sight, Some Still Harbor a Vision for Columbia

Cyril Phatshwane, a master’s student at Teachers College, is blind. Forty-three years old and with a wife and kids back home in Botswana, he is pursuing a master’s degree in the teaching of students with visual impairments. He takes classes, teaches, and uses a computer. According to his roommate, Michael Feyen, Phatshwane is highly independent and “an excellent cook.”
 
There is just one problem—due to the city’s refusal of his request to install an audible traffic signal at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 120th Street, Phatshwane cannot even cross the street.  Phatshwane and Feyen first requested an audible traffic light on Aug. 9. On Oct. 22, they received a letter from the New York City Department of Transportation rejecting their request. The department cited, as its reason, the fact that “such lights are generally installed near facilities for the visually impaired and at intersections that would present difficulties for pedestrians with visual disabilities to cross safely and effectively.”
 
As an international student, Phatshwane had the added challenge of adjusting to a disability in a new country. “Especially when you’re an international student, it’s a bit frustrating and demoralizing if people don’t care,” he said. He expressed frustration with Columbia’s approach to diversity, saying, “Columbia prides itself on being a university that respects diversity, but I don’t think they care.”
 
DeborahGroeber whom is an alumni of Columbia said there is room for improvement. “People need more exposure, experience, and education about people with disabilities,” she said. “The University can help by providing reasonable accommodation and by integrating people with disabilities—possibly having more faculty members or staff with disabilities.”
 
This article appeared in the November 9, 2007 edition of the Columbia Spectator.
 
How This Gift Connects The Dots
 
Scholarships & Fellowships
 
Faculty & Programs
 
Campus & Technology
 
Financial Flexibility
 
Engage TC Alumni & Friends