Pearl River Community College professor improves accessibility accommodations for disabled colleague

Pine Belt

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Pearl River Community College’s welding instructor Jason Pitts built a weather canopy with his advanced welding class for disabled Electronics Technology instructor Sam McNease.

McNease has faced daily challenges unloading her wheelchair from her truck during bad weather days. She said a typical unload takes a minimum of five to eight minutes, but it takes longer in bad weather.

She said she has often taught her classes while wet due to not having a proper covering near her tech class in the Technical Building. Pitts, who is actually a childhood friend of McNease, would run to offer a raincoat or an umbrella to his friend every time he saw her struggling to get out of the car in the elements.

He came up with the idea to construct a canopy outside of her electronics lab entrance, so she could park and unload her wheelchair efficiently. Pitts said it took him three days to complete the project once the pipes used for the legs of the canopy were set. He said that he got the materials from Southern Waterworks Supply of Hattiesburg.

McNease has been wheelchair bound since 2006 and has worked for Pearl River Community College and is the first woman to ever teach class in the Technical Building. She said the canopy is just the start to what is needed for accessibility options for all disabled people on campus and in the world.

McNease suggests automatic doors, better sidewalks, and weather coverings as a way that businesses can make themselves more accessible to disabled persons.

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