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IU creates camera equipment for paralyzed broadcasting student



Bloomington, Indiana – Indiana University is striving to improve the accessibility of camera equipment for a student who is paralyzed.

Josh Fugate, a senior at Indiana University, grew up wanting to play for the Hoosiers. Everything was altered by an incident during his senior year of high school.

“I broke my neck in a swimming accident that resulted in a C5 spinal cord injury,” Fugate said.

The native of Fishers was hospitalized for several months. According to his father, he just needs to approach things differently; life won’t change.

Fugate was adamant about going into sports as a career. Rather than a player this time, a broadcaster. But the IU student found it difficult.

“A lot of the camera stuff is so fine-tuned,” Fugate said. “I don’t have the hand function, so I can’t move my fingers.”

Professors at IU labored to design equipment that could be customized for Fugate because they were determined that nothing would stop him.

“You can see his talent,” said Cheryl Owsley Jackson, a professor at IU Media School. “You don’t want to miss that because you can’t get around his wheelchair. I know it’s a rough road to figure out how Josh can do sports journalism. It’s going to take people paying attention.”

Allen Major, a tech expert, developed a unique tripod and zoom that is attached to Fugate’s wheelchair.

“It’s a work in progress,” Major said. “It’s not perfect.”

The team anticipates that the tools will increase crippled pupils’ access to cameras.

“I think sometimes in broadcast we say you have to look this way or operate this way,” Owsley Jackson said. “I think the new thinking should be this: show up however you are.”

“It happened,” Fugate said. “I can’t change it, so I might as well make the most of it. Either you give up or you have a fulfilling life. I’ve never been one to give up.”

IU wants to keep upgrading the tools and produce more models specifically for students with impairments. When he graduates and pursues a profession in broadcasting, Fugate wants to carry the camera with him.