With 49 million visitors a year, Las Vegas' reliance on tourism means physical accessibility is always at the forefront. That attention to accessibility is reflected at UNLV, and is reflected in the university's inclusion in New Mobility Magazine's Wheels on Campus issue, highlighting the top-20 wheelchair-friendly campuses in the country.
Located on 358 predominantly flat acres, UNLV's thoroughfares are relatively easy for both manual and power chair users to navigate. Most doors have access buttons, and lunch tables have cutouts for chairs. Designated a “Tree Campus USA,” the campus provides respite from the hot Nevada sun.
Junior kinesiology student Bradley Boe enjoys studying and hanging out in the shady groves. “My spinal cord injury means my thermoregulation is messed up and the air conditioning can get too cold. It’s nice to find a place in the shade to work, socialize and get some fresh air," he said.
Boe, 28, uses a manual wheelchair to get around. One of his biggest motivators for choosing UNLV was receiving a full scholarship from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, an organization that supports programs and scientific research to help those living with spinal cord injuries.
“The scholarship has been huge,” Boe said, “but UNLV’s focus on community health, and my involvement with Las Vegas High Rollers Wheelchair Rugby really made it a no-brainer.”
Being a part of the High Rollers not only feeds Boe’s competitive spirit, it also creates a source of camaraderie. His motto is, “Once you find the right people, you can build a support network for success.”
His passion to support others is clear. He established an outreach program for individuals who recently sustained spinal cord injuries and seeks to support anyone experiencing disability.
After meeting Pearl Beck at UNLV, Boe recruited her to the High Rollers. Beck, 21, is a sophomore also majoring in kinesiology. She was born with cerebral palsy. Beck likes UNLV because of its exceptional programs, flat terrain, warm weather, and location.
She is active in sports and often visits the student recreation center on campus. She’s also a regular at Progressive Force CrossFit, a local gym with certified adaptive coaches and adaptive equipment. Her main interest is in becoming an adaptive coach or recreation therapist to help other athletes, like herself. The UNLV recreation sports staff creates partnerships with the cities of Las Vegas and Henderson to promote adaptive sports and recreation events.
“The whole campus is inclusion-oriented,” she said. “All professors and staff at UNLV are very helpful. The easy-to-navigate campus and a ton of resources help ensure everyone succeeds.”
Both Boe and Beck frequent the Disability Resource Center, where they find that personalized support an essential part of their college success.
“If I need something changed,” Beck said, “there is a discussion about what I can do and what can be changed.”
Disability Resource Center Director Bryan Hilbert has cerebral palsy himself and understands the benefits the center can provide.
“In college, success is not the school’s responsibility — it’s the individual’s,” he tells students. “And our goal is to provide every individual the support they need to achieve success.”
The center has a robust assistive technology and alternate format program and aids college learning through the provision of academic adjustments, accommodations, auxiliary services, and advocacy.
“UNLV is one to watch,” he said, because its mission is to address the diverse needs of students and create a culture that supports universal access to quality education and exceptional health care programs as a top-tier research university.