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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Campus wind chime inititiative makes progress

Cody Franklin — THE BATTALION
Accounting junior Collin Kruger, international studies sophomore Kaitlyn Kellermeyer and political science junior Joseph Hood have worked with administration to install wind chimes throughout campus for students with visual impairments.
Cody Franklin — THE BATTALION Accounting junior Collin Kruger, international studies sophomore Kaitlyn Kellermeyer and political science junior Joseph Hood have worked with administration to install wind chimes throughout campus for students with visual impairments.

After its passage by Student Senate in October, a bill calling for wind chimes to be hung around campus to aid students with visual impairments has made progress — but there are still steps to be taken.
International studies sophomore Kaitlyn Kellermeyer lost her vision last year. In August she approached her friend Joseph Hood, student senator and political science junior, with her idea. Since their bill was passed, Hood and Kellermeyer, along with accounting junior Collin Kruger, have been working with administration to make the bill a reality.
Kruger, SGA vice president of student services, acts as a liaison between students and administration. He said he has received positive response from administration.
“On the administrative side, they’ve all been completely behind it, which is a testament to our university,” Kruger said. “Not only our students but our administrators also, are committed to being what an Aggie is, even if they don’t go to school here, being around A&M rubs off on them, I guess. Every administrative person I’ve talked to has said that they think it’s a wonderful idea.”
Kellermeyer said the wind chimes will act as auditory cues for the orientation and mobility of students with visual impairments.
“The wind chimes are supposed to act as auditory landmarks around campus, the same way that people would use visual landmarks to be able to tell where they are and which way they need to go,” Kellermeyer said. “People who are blind or visually impaired do the same thing with noises, and to have a constant sound or noise that you can depend on is really valuable especially when you’re trying to navigate places like a college campus where you don’t have usual consistent sounds like traffic.”
Kellermeyer said a college campus as large as Texas A&M is especially challenging to navigate because of the open spaces.
“They’re really important to have in areas on campus that don’t have consistent auditory clues and also that are rather confusing because campus is full of wide open spaces and pathways that can be difficult to navigate,” Kellermeyer said. “It just would really be beneficial to have some sort of landmark there to orient you.”
Kellermeyer said that after the bill was passed, she has received lots of feedback from her peers, who are curious to know how they can help or how things are going.
“Everyone has been really supportive,” Kellermeyer said. “I’ve actually had people that I really don’t know that will come up to me and ask me how it’s going, or people that I know will ask me how it’s going. And then I’ve had just random people who’ve seen the story, like bus drivers or different people from different organizations, come up to me because they see me around, or people sitting on the bus next to me seeing me and saying that they saw the story. There’s been a lot of support; it’s been really neat to see.”
Hood said he too has received lots of feedback from people reaching out to him to offer their support.
“There’s been a huge outpouring of general support from the entire community of A&M,” Hood said. “Just seeing how many people were both spreading the word about it and also reaching out to Kaitlyn, or reaching out to me, asking how they can help or saying that it’s something that they really want to get behind reminds me of one of the many reasons why I love being an Aggie.”
The trio has been meeting to discuss different options for how they want to go about getting the wind chimes and then how to go about maintaining them. While the idea they’ve come to is still tentative, they have plans for an “Adopt-a-Wind-Chime” program in which organizations can be in charge of the maintenance and care of its own wind chime. Kruger said that not only will students be maintaining a wind chime, they’ll also be making a tangible difference in the local community and helping fellow Aggies.
“It makes students feel like they’re making a difference. Like, ‘That’s our wind chime. I helped make a difference,’ and I think that’s what Aggies are all about — making differences.”
Hood said the program will help educate students about a community with which they may not be familiar.
“It makes people more aware of the fact that there’s a visually impaired community that goes through things that we can’t even imagine every single day,” Hood said.
Hood said these wind chimes will not only help the visually impaired community, but they’ll also make students aware of the variety of people and experiences on campus.
“Every day when those wind chimes are up, people are going to notice them and recognize that there are other people in this world,” Hood said. “They wouldn’t just adopt a wind chime — they’d be adopting another mindset.”
While there are still several matters in the works, the hope is that the wind chimes will be on campus before long. In the meantime, Kellermeyer said she hopes the project will go beyond making students with visual impairments more comfortable on campus and will make others more comfortable with students with visual impairments.
“We’re not unapproachable,” Kellermeyer said. “I know that I personally would love to talk to you about my disability, to connect with you on that level as a person because that’s such a big part of my life and who I am, and I love the opportunity to share it and I love when people want to understand it better. I think that this whole project has been a wonderful way for me to see that there a lot of people out there who care about that and who care about knowing that.”

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