Navigating College Campuses by Wheelchair

BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 149Moderator Moderator
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What are your experiences with living in a dorm or navigating through campus when using a wheelchair? My brother had a pretty terrible experience with accessibility at his college, so I'd love to know what you wish all colleges would understand about accommodating the needs of people with limited mobility! Excellent examples of accessibility on campuses are also welcome.

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  • Mnichols23Mnichols23 Posts: 35Moderator Moderator
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     I am currently a college student. Getting around a college campus isn’t the easiest thing especially for a power wheelchair user like myself. But I’ve been able to find different ways to get the classes that are easier for me even though I may have to get to campus a bit earlier.  I can’t get into some of the old buildings though on campus 
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 149Moderator Moderator
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    @Mnichols23, have campus disability services/disability resource center been helpful? I'm curious to know your experiences with them. I'm sorry about the lack of access into older buildings. I hope you have still been able to feel totally immersed in your campus despite that.
  • abigalenicoleabigalenicole Posts: 2Member
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    My Fiance is currently on a college campus, and he gets around fairly easily. There are a few large hills, but he calls them his cardio since he is in a manual chair haha. We were lucky enough that our university just built a brand new College of Business building, so he does not have to deal with many classes in older building on campus that are less accessible. I know that for him, professors have always been very understanding if he cannot make it to class due to weather, and there is campus services that could be a resource to him if he needed it. He has used them to help with sporting event seating before.
  • ZcollieZcollie Posts: 138Moderator Moderator
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    I lived on my college campus for 3 semesters. I did not have any problems. They were on campus apartments so not dorms, which I was very happy about (more room). I had all the accommodations I needed to live on campus. Majority of the buildings had buttons I could push to open the door for me. Sorry to hear your brother has a such a difficult experience. 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 149Moderator Moderator
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    @Zcollie, that's great that you had a good experience on campus! Living at the end of a long, long carpeted hallway was just the tip of the iceberg for him. Are there any situations that ever arose that were handled/resolved particularly well by your school?
  • Mnichols23Mnichols23 Posts: 35Moderator Moderator
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    @Zcollie how is living on campus? I currently commute. I’m contemplating living on campus this upcoming fall. I’m C-5. Does the school have people to help if necessary?
  • ZcollieZcollie Posts: 138Moderator Moderator
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    @BrookeU My school gave me two rooms for the price of one so my caregiver could sleep over, their ada room had a great roll in shower, and I a clicker to an automatic door they had for my room. They were extremely accommodating and generous for my situation. 
    @Mnichols23 It was a great experience! I loved it. It was just really expensive so I did it for a little bit. I had my own caregiver that would stay with me. School helped with a notetaker for my classes. 
    Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be. -SONIA RICOTTI
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 149Moderator Moderator
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    Dang, @Zcollie! That's awesome that they gave you both of those rooms. Hopefully other schools will follow suit!
  • SterlionSterlion Posts: 51Moderator Moderator
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    This is my first semester being back on campus and I'm blown away by how well the school accomodated me. One thing to know is to make sure you tell them EVERYTHING you need.
    1. They moved the students out who were in the accessible dorm the semester before for me.
    2. Put a kepad on my door so I didnt have to use a key.
    3. Gave me button that opens the automatic door to my building. 
    4. Made sure all my classes were in accessible buildings
    5. Gave me extra time on test with a person to write my answers
    6. Made sure that all my routes are cleared of snow (Which has been quite a lot this year)
    I know communication is key. Most people really want to help, they just don't know how. The first day I went to eat in the cafeteria I asked for a tray so I could carry my food. That was the last time because they now have a stack just for me when I go eat.
    One thing about being in a wheelchair is rarely do people forget your face, or maybe the fact that you have a wheelchair. My point is faculty of schools see hundreds of people walking a day. Rarely are people rolling around so it is less likely they'll forget when you ask for something. 
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 149Moderator Moderator
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    @Sterlion, do you mind me asking how big your school is? My brother was at a large university, and I really think their issue was a lack of compassion and being driven by money or something. For his summer semester, he had to move out of his accessible dorm for bogus reasons involving the priotization of student athletes. There are stories for days on how he was treated. I’m wondering if a smaller school could affect how someone who uses a wheelchair is treated.
  • SterlionSterlion Posts: 51Moderator Moderator
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    @BrookeU
    Wow that's terrible. But my school has about 20,000 students, so I could see how it being smaller might've helped me build relationships. I would definitely take the problems your brother had to the admin. If they can't help I would go somewhere else who's willing to help. That's unacceptable and I'm sorry that y'all had to go through that. 
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 149Moderator Moderator
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    @Sterlion, that’s pretty big, though! Good on them. I’m so glad you’re having a good experience. His school is kind of known for not taking caring of students’ mental health, as well. I think they just need a whole overhaul of their priorities. Luckily, the university president is retiring this year, so hopefully the new one will be more receptive to people’s idea and complaints relating to student well-being. Fingers crossed!
  • SterlionSterlion Posts: 51Moderator Moderator
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    @BrookeU
    If you don't mind me asking, how did he choose to go there? If he had a choice at all.
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 149Moderator Moderator
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    @Sterlion, it’s what most people would consider to be the best public university in our state and one of the best in the country. At the time, he was planning to be an engineer, and their programs are at the top of the list. It also happened to be close to where we lived at the time, so my mom was never too far away if he had an emergency. He definitely regrets going there. Sometimes prestige doesn’t equal a good experience!
  • SterlionSterlion Posts: 51Moderator Moderator
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    @BrookeU
    Ok that makes a lot of sense. But man, that is really unfortunate that's how they treat not just their students but someone with a disability who put in all the effort and time to be there.
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