BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana University is working to make camera equipment more accessible for a paralyzed student.
IU senior Josh Fugate grew up dreaming of the chance to one day play for the Hoosiers. An accident his senior year of high school changed everything.
“I broke my neck in a swimming accident that resulted in a C5 spinal cord injury,” Fugate said.
The Fishers native spent months in the hospital. His father told him life isn’t going to be different; he just has to do things in a different way.
Fugate was determined to pursue a career in sports. This time, as a broadcaster and not a player. But it wasn’t easy for the IU student.
“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.”
Determined to not let it stop him, IU professors worked to create gear that could be adapted for Fugate.
“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.”
Technical specialist, Allen Major, created a custom tripod and zoom that attaches to Fugate’s wheelchair.
“It’s a work in progress,” Major said. “It’s not perfect.”
The team hopes the equipment will improve camera accessibility for students who are paralyzed.
“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 hopes to continue improving the equipment and create more models for students with disabilities. The goal is for Fugate to take the camera with him when he graduates to continue his career in broadcasting.