Oxford, Ohio Isn't As Accessible As It Claims

Dear Oxford, Ohio, Don't Claim Accessibility If Patrons Can't Even Get In The Door

Just because your building fulfills the minimum requirements doesn't mean it is accessible.


Disclaimer: My perspective is only that of someone studying disability studies and a daughter of disabled parents. I do not speak for everyone in the community.

I currently go to Miami University in Oxford, OH. We have a wonderful disability studies program that has opened my eyes to the issues that the city of Oxford and the world faces in making public spaces accessible. When I say accessible I mostly mean physically, yes, but we also talk about a concept called Universal Design often.

There are 7 principles that Universally Designed Spaces Focus on:

1. Equitable Use: Can be used with a wide range of abilities.

2. Flexibility in Use: Depending on user needs, things can be moved or reformed.

3. Simple and Intuitive Use: Easy to use with little to no thought.

4. Perceptible Information: Easy to understand with little to no thought.

5. Tolerance for Error: Reduces possible harm to users.

6. Low Physical Effort: Physically easy to manipulate and use.

7. Size and Space for Approach and Use: Large enough, high enough, or short enough for use for people with many different abilities.

Each of these principles is crucial in creating spaces that are designed for all people, not just some. Not only do you need to consider how accessible is it for people with physical disabilities, but how accessible is it for those with sensory issues, vision or hearing loss, or any other range of abilities. Additionally, these principles are useful for all people: children, older adults, teens, EVERYONE.

From my personal experience, Oxford is NOT accessible, though they often claim some amount of accessibility.

Last year I worked on a project where we assessed the age-friendliness of Oxford. Findings were, frankly, grim, but we all expected it. Since beginning disability studies, though, I have realized it's so much more than that. In a current class, we wanted to see how large Oxford's need for push-to-open door buttons is. Turns out, it's pretty big. In one of the most popular areas of the city, where there are many restaurants, bars, and local shopping areas, there is not ONE push button. This means that it is much harder for wheelchair users to be able to get into a business with no assistance.

So, we set out to find ways to have at least one location uptown get a push button. We contacted businesses, to no avail. We did the research and were ready to discuss the financial difficulties the businesses might face when trying to install one, but we couldn't even get a foot in the door.

We realized, maybe this was a jump. Maybe, it was too ambitious. Maybe, we needed to start broader and then eventually focus in on one problem.

So, instead, we decided to determine how universally designed (and therefore, accessible) these businesses were.

For many, the results weren't surprising. You could get in the front door (with assistance) but once patrons get in there is a whole slew of issues they might face. Bright lights, high tables, and inaccessible bathrooms were only the beginning.

The most disappointing find, though, was from the businesses that had a universal symbol for "accessible" on the front door.

We found that most of these businesses were doing the bare minimum. They still faced all the common problems other businesses have, and some of them had even more issues.

As new students in disability studies, we recognized that maybe the owners think that what they have is all they need. So, instead of our initial plan, we decided to educate them about the 7 principles of universal design and how to implement changes to fit within these principles. We suggested to lower tables, paint walls a color that is not white and make seating arrangements more flexible, among many other things.

Our project is not yet complete, but we hope by educating businesses and policymakers in Oxford what we tried to do this semester will be more easily attainable for students in the future.

Keeping public places accessible to everyone is so important. With the 7 principles, changes made won't be to "help people with disabilities" but to help everyone. Oxford has a long way to go but with a little education and a whole lot of action, we know that Oxford (and the world) can be improved.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Ozark's Largest Meth Ring

After a long history of meth in the Ozarks, in 2012 we see the formation of the largest band of dealers to reign over the area.


For almost a decade, Missouri was the forerunner in the meth production market. Production started in the wooded areas near the Missouri-Arkansas border soon after the civil war. Southerners escaping the confederacy hid out in the dense forest of this part of the country and began the generations-long business in the meth industry (news.com 2012). In the spring of 2012, one man and one woman began the largest meth ring in Ozarks history.

The ring ran until it's final arrests were made on Thanksgiving day in 2014. This particular case took two years to investigate; with the final sentencing being set earlier this month. 11 million of Missouri's tax dollars are allocated to federal prisons housing these victims, racking up 312 years of combined sentencing.

Span of the Ozarks

The conspiracy was headed by two kingpins, Kenna Harmon of Republic, MO and Kenneth Friend of Springfield, MO.

Their role of oversight of purchases and distribution seem to be the only source of structure for this voluminous group of contributors. Both had a number of distributors under them that would purchase large quantities and sell them to others. One of the largest distributors, Carlos Tapia, funneled about 10 pounds of meth into Springfield every two weeks.

Other brokers would drive to Kansas City, St. Louis, and Oklahoma; some even drove to Texas or California for a large sum of cash. The two leaders pushed six hundred pounds of meth through the Ozarks in their year-long reign. Harmon has been sentenced to 21.5 years in prison; Friend was the last person in the ring to be indicted, with his sentencing being finalized in January of 2019, now must serve 30 years in prison.

Harmon's career in the meth industry began with her husband, Daniel Harmon; the two regarded as the ringleaders in the operation. Daniel began distributing in 2012. By the time of his arrest in 2013, he was known in the meth ring as a major dealer in the area.

Both Daniel and Kenna were spotted by police outside of St. Louis in a high-speed chase at 120 miles an hour, caught with four pounds of meth, $60,000, and a handgun. Kenna fled the scene. She continued the business out of her house in Republic for another year to keep up household income (KSPR 2019).

There is no released information about Friend's involvement with the group.

After the first 2013 arrest of Daniel Harmon, the DEA began wiretapping and intercepting phone calls to get a hold on sellers. Some officers were assigned to go undercover as potential buyers to catch distributors in the act. Their stories were all tied back to the homes of Harmon and Friend. Each of the distributors would buy several grams each week to sell to others in the community (KSPR 2018).

On Thanksgiving day in 2014, Friend and Harmon made plans over the phone to meet up for an exchange with one another. Federal investigators intercepted the phone call and decided to shut the ring down. Kenna Harmon's blue sedan was spotted within Springfield city limits.

Police pulled her over with a small quantity of meth and over $4,000. Investigators raided her home in Republic, MO, finding larger quantities of meth and over $60,000. Friend and his girlfriend, Donnette Davis, were pulled over just a few blocks away from his home in Springfield with four grams of meth and $20,000. Davis was sentenced to 22 months in prison for her role in distributing meth but also cooperating with police in helping them gain information, which knocked off a couple months of her original 2-year sentence.

Though this ring has come to an end and Missouri is no longer the top meth-producing state, the drug is still one of the most prevalent drugs here in Springfield, MO and the Ozarks as a whole (KSPR 2018). The problems that have not been solved within our county are the income disparities and resources for addiction recovery.

The demographic of meth consumers and producers have been cornered to the low-income, mostly white masses that fall outside of the heart of Springfield. Many of these business run in the family and are passed down to younger generations. And when there is little opportunity to work in these rural locations, there is always fall back to have some source of income.

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