[Image shows three spoons on a laptop keyboard. Overlaid is clipart of torn white notebook paper with a red paper clip. At the top is a black graduate’s hat and below in black text reads “College and Accessibility: It’s Not a Fun Challenge”. Below is the url for TheeCrohnieGrace blog.]
I hobbled between the small crawlspace between wall and desk trying to make it to the wall where we hang up our art work, as I tried to make my way through, my cane snagged the edge of the chair and I fell, catching myself lucking by the chair. It was then I heard a voice behind me.
“Quite a challenge, huh?” My art professor said with a smile and a chuckle.
It took a lot of will power to hold back what I really wanted to say. But I let out a sigh and said, “Oh yeah.”
Let’s go back to before the summer, when I met with said art professor and also my college advisor for the first time. Cane in one hand, feeding pump backpack over my shoulder.
She had signed me up for 5 classes, the most I had taken at once, and with a world of new health issues and reoccurring health issues, I was feeling unconfident in my ability to handle all those classes on top of everything else I had to deal with.
I mentioned, “Well I’m a medically complex person so sometimes things just pop up and I end up missing a few days. So that’s why this back to back schedule may not be the best for me.”
To which she replied, “Oh you can schedule that stuff around school, college is more important than a doctor’s appointment.”
But what she didn’t realize is that it’s not just a check up every 6 months. More like every 2-3 weeks with various specialists, infusion days, surgeries, sick days, freak flares that lead to ER trips.
So flash forward to today, missing my art class for my cardiology appointment. Thinking about how killer my schedule was, how my body constantly ached from a Monday-Thursday schedule. And thinking about the different things I’ve encountered already at the college that are not accessible, or professors that can be ableist.
To get to my math class, I use an elevator to get to the basement, the elevator is so slow, not to mention there is almost always staff people riding up and down on it. One of them even said to me, “I just don’t see the point in taking stairs when there’s an elevator.” Or the times the elevator arrives late, only to be filled by people toting large quantities of things like soda.
Still not too bad, better than no elevators at all.
But the aisles of the computer lab, or any of the classrooms for that matter, most of them you could not fit a wheelchair through, even sometimes I struggle getting into my seat and I just have a cane.
But then I go to the 2nd floor for Comm 111, not only do I have to deal with gawking nursing students who look like they’re unraveling some medical mystery in their head and trying to figure out my life story, but the actual classroom: stairs. Only stairs. In order to get into any seats, which are all on their individual step, you would have to be able to walk.
Do they just put wheelchair users in a more accessible classroom for Communications class? What would they do if someone got to their classroom and physically couldn’t get in? Shouldn’t education be accessible for all?
It’s little things. That while seem insignificant to many, to those with disabilities, these stair cases can feel like a mountain.
I see far too often that places claim to be accessible because they have a ramp. But I have so many friends who will tell you first hand that a ramp does not mean accessible. Often times they are too steep, even too slim to fit a wheelchair through.
There was a time when I would not have thought twice, I would have let it go because it didn’t affect me, but it affects me, and it affects so many of my friends and family. It affects people everywhere and everyday. It may seem like a silly complaint, but it’s hard to sit back and look at all the inaccessible things and think about the professor smiling and saying “Quite a challenge, huh?” Accessibility should not be a challenge.
Having issues with inaccessibility somewhere and want to share your story?
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org