(Reprinted with permission from The Battalion) By Megan Rodriguez
The wind chimes initiative will make another stride in helping those with disabilities after three semesters of work from economics senior Kaitlyn Kellermeyer, members of the Student Government Association and the Texas A&M administration.
The wind chimes initiative is a push by students in the visually impaired community and SGA to install wind chimes at locations around Texas A&M to aid those with impaired vision as they navigate campus. The chimes were paid for and installed Dec. 10, and now a new initiative spearheaded by Kellermeyer and SGA members hopes to see student organizations “adopt” the wind chimes to raise money for a local disabilities non-profit.
The new project will seek student organizations who want to symbolically adopt a chime — the groups will donate a flat fee to the project and check on their chime periodically to ensure it is not damaged or missing. The money donated through the program will go towards the Brazos Valley Center for Independent Living, a non-profit organization which works to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities.
The challenge of navigating Texas A&M’s Campus is magnified for students with visual impairments like Kellermeyer, who lost her sight nearly two years ago. Beginning in the fall of 2014, Kellermeyer began working with SGA to have wind chimes hung up around campus to aid the visually impaired.
“Sponsors for a wind chime put up the money to fund the initial purchase of the chime, whereas the Adopt-a-Wind-Chime program is something that we are going to implement,” Kellermeyer said.
Kellermeyer brought the original idea of putting wind chimes on campus to political science senior and student senator Joseph Hood, who wrote the Visual Impairment Aid Bill. The bill called for truncated sidewalk domes to be placed at the north end of Military Walk and suggested 10 locations for the chime’s installment. It also asked that braille plates be placed at the ventrance of rooms in the Peterson Building.
The bill passed in the fall of 2014 and was signed by former interim A&M president Mark Hussey in March of 2015. Hood said the Adopt-a-Wind-Chime program will now serve as another step towards making campus more navigable for students with disabilities.
“The idea is that this is the first step in a process that will lead to even better ways to navigate campuses not only here at A&M but other parts of the country,” Hood said. “We believe that this has made a difference and will continue to do so, but it is not the end.”
The wind chime initiative hit a lag when a leadership change delayed the initiative by several months and pushed its completion past the initial target date in the 2015 spring semester.
Despite the delay, the wind chime initiative continued to gather support. One of the members of the administration who wanted to help was Aggie Honor System Office Director Timothy Powers, who read about the wind chimes in The Battalion and immediately contacted Kellermeyer to see how he could help. This led to the Aggie Honor System Office sponsoring eight of the 10 wind chimes that have been put up around campus.
“What I would encourage students who are trying to take on a project of this nature is to approach faculty and staff … because we might have knowledge of resources that students can access,” Powers said.