University Accessibility Center
I did not get connected with the UAC until after my mission. Most of the time I was at BYU, I did not know about the accessibility center. After my mission I had hip surgery. I went to the accessibility center because I knew I needed help. I could not get across campus, was on crutches, and in severe pain. They said there was nothing they could do for me.
I asked if they had anything - a golf cart maybe- to help me, because I had seen that BYU had many golf carts, and they just used them to bring people around for tours. I had also heard of many other universities that provided this service to their students. My surgeon told me most campuses have a system that they use to give students rides if they need them. I was shocked. BYU did not help me and I was forced to go on foot. My experience with the UAC has shown me they do not give any help at all to people with mobility issues.
I also have mental health issues. I struggle with reading and they don't have a lot of options for that either. I went in because I saw on their website that they had programs that could help me immensely. I went in to ask about them and they said I could only use them in the office and I needed to schedule a time with them every time I needed to read. It was really impractical for what I needed. I would be at home, and if I had an emergency, I couldn't get to campus because of my mobility issues and I would have to get a ride. They have been largely unhelpful.
They are super willing to provide extra time on assignments, but I feel like that's their one “specialty” and everything else they say, “Yeah, we don’t do that.”
It's not something that affects just me. My fiance had to pull a lot of the weight, trying to help me get assignments done when I wasn't able to read, and making sure I don't fall on my way to class by walking with me. This disrupts what he needs to do and takes a lot of time out of his schedule. He is a full time student and he works and doesn't have time to walk with me to all my classes and then walk to his classes too. The fact that I have been ignored affects everyone who loves me. It's not just affecting everyone who is disabled, it is affecting everyone who loves them.
My professors have been very helpful. I had to withdraw from a lot of my classes and they've been really kind and saying that I just can't get it done when I need to and come talk to me and we'll work through it. It's going to work out. The professors have been more helpful than the UAC. Looking back on my time, i would definitely put my professors way up there [in terms of helpfulness] and the UAC lower. I am so grateful. They want me to succeed. I am not just a number in the system. The UAC is helpful for seeing you as a human for some of your needs, but not all of your needs. For example, if you have depression and anxiety, they see you as a person. But if you have any other problem they say, “oh we can’t help with that, we can't see that” and they cover their eyes.
For instance, I went into the UAC when I was 5 weeks post op, it was not even far enough into recovering that I should have even been walking that much. They just brushed it off and said “that's too bad.” I had all of the paperwork that I was told to bring. I had my surgeon's notes, that had specific info detailing what the university should provide for me. I also had medical documentation of what had happened. They just held onto it, and didn't give it back. But also didn't give me accommodations. They took the records and didn't help me. They gave me other accommodations down the line for my mental health, and it felt like they were giving me the accommodations that they wanted to, to make up for what they ignored.
I used to be in a wheelchair. People think that a flat surface means that its accessible. But the thing is that they don’t consider the fact that a lot of people with mobility issues can’t walk as far or they can’t walk uphill. I struggle a lot with balance and I’m not supposed to take slopes so it’s super tricky. The distance between buildings in enormous and I feel like a lot of the time the more accessible paths are longer than the non-accessible paths. Sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to get to my next class. Even the doors, the accessible door is always the farthest one from me. The handicap button is twenty feet away and I have to go over there so I can get through that door. Sometimes I’ll be with my fiance and he doesn’t want me to fall cause I have before. I’ll have to just stop and lean against him cause I’m so exhausted and in pain that I can’t keep going. It’s ridiculous.
I’ve fallen quite a few times. Part of it is because they don’t clear the ice. That’s another thing. When you’re on crutches, the rubber doesn’t do super well on ice. I ended up getting cleats for the bottom of my crutches cause I was so scared to walk anywhere. It’ll be snowing outside and I’ll go inside and the surface is super slippery. I’ve fallen in the WILK and on the walkway next to the library, between there and the JFSB. It’s rough because I’m not supposed to fall. I just had bone surgery. My bones are super brittle right now and if I fall they are a lot more likely to break than most people’s cause they’re healing. And I have muscles that are healing. Falling right after surgery is really bad, not to mention that you can’t get up by yourself sometimes. I’ve fallen quite a few times because the doors are really heavy.
When I was in a wheelchair, I had so many cuts and stuff all over my hands cause I would always get my hands smashed in the door. People will walk through the doors and not see you behind them and the doors will smash into me. I don’t have good balance and I don’t weight a lot and I just fall. The people just keep walking. They don’t know that anything happened. The buttons are usually too slow and some of them don’t work. Some work for the first door and then the second door won’t open. With the buildings I’m using, they’re just too slow so I’m just standing there and there’s a line of people behind me. I’m not strong enough to push the door open myself so I can’t help it. Either that or there isn’t a button and there aren’t any ramps or its a building where there are just stairs. I’ll have to go up the stairs and push open the door. Sometimes they are so heavy that I can’t do it myself. I’ll just have to wait for someone else to help push the door open and it’s really awkward.
There are a lot of problems with doors. The bathrooms are the heaviest doors. I’ll try to use the bathroom on the second floor of the SWKT and I can hardly get it open. I’ll push it enough for me to squeeze inside and then I’ll just sit down and breathe cause I’m so tired from pushing the door open. I have to do the same thing when I leave and that’s harder because you have to pull it. When you’re pushing you can push it and then shimmy inside, but if you have to pull it, you have to find a way to maneuver your body around. Things that I notice with bathrooms is they’ll have a handicap stall, but sometimes they have the doors open in such a way that you can’t actually get inside. It’s big enough for you if you just had the wheelchair and it was a permanent residence, but getting in and out is ridiculous. It’s also like that on crutches. There are some bathroom stalls that I can’t even get in on crutches. It’s ridiculous. Even if there is a stall I can get into, there’s only one and there is always someone in it who has no issues. I have to stand there and wait for like 10 minutes when it’s hard for me to stand. Sometimes I’m so exhausted that I can’t get to a bathroom. They’re not clearly marked and when you’re dealing with a lot of pain and fatigue and you don’t know where the bathroom is, you’re not going to go around the entire building looking for it, for one you can actually use. Because then you just made things worse for yourself cause you’re in more pain and more exhausted. I would really appreciate it if they had maps of where accessible bathrooms were on campus cause there have been times that I’ve held it for 3 hours cause it’s easier than finding a bathroom.
BYU doesn’t have any accessible housing. That just came to me because I was thinking about stairs. I was thinking about it because to get to the WILK from the JSB, I can either go towards the stairs or I can go around all the buildings and take the ramp and it’s like twice as far. My apartment has 3 flights of stairs to get to the top so I have my fiancé help me get up and down every day. As far as I’m aware, the only accessible housing is Heritage.
I don’t like it when elevator doors close on me. That happens a lot. There are some elevators on campus that every time I’m not fast enough. I think it’s the JFSB where one of the elevators always closes on me. I think sometimes it because someone is inside and they close it, but other times it is just fast. They’re fine if you walk in quickly at a normal pace, but if you walk in slow because of problems with your hips, they close on you.
I feel like with admissions, there are certain requirements for how many people in each demographic the school has to accept, but they don’t have similar requirements for the accommodations that are made for those students after they are accepted. It’s almost like a false promise in some ways. If you’re going to accept this many students with a disability into your school, you need to be able to accommodate them. I’m sure a lot of people find out about their disabilities after they come to school. It was like that for me. That needs to be accounted for too. I’m thankful for BYU, but it’s been really rough as my disability needs have gotten worse. I don’t get help except from people who aren’t with the university. It’s sad. Have you ever heard of the wilderness trek class? I was a TA for the class with a friend of mine who has similar health problems. The instructor for that course was pretty irresponsible. He’s not connected to the accessibility center, but he is connected to the university. He had us doing all kinds of things that we shouldn’t have been doing for our health stipulations, like lifting heavy things, carrying heavy things long distances, walking long distances in the dark, trying to jump over things, all sorts of crazy things that we didn’t necessarily agree to. We actually went to the department over him, probably about a year or two ago. I think he’s probably the only professor that I’ve had that has been crazy, a health hazard.
They have like 2 parking stalls for people on campus. I have a handicap parking pass, but I there aren’t any handicap parking spots. There are a few that are assigned, but I don’t have one of them. I’m stuck with whatever is left if there is one left, which oftentimes there isn’t. My fiance will have to park in various different locations in order to work with his parking pass and then I have to walk to wherever it is. A lot of the parking that we can park in is really far away from any of the buildings that I need to be at. No matter where it is and no matter how close to campus it is, I still need to walk 20 more minutes than I should be walking just to get to a building.
They have those security gates, so he can go past them to drop me off closer. The security people always say: “You’re not supposed to go past there.” They don’t even consider the fact that some people need to walk less or can’t walk as far. Some of them are nice and some are kind of snide. Even with the handicap pass, they still stop us. Usually, he’ll drop me off at the JFSB and then he has to go park somewhere else. I feel like sometimes they pit people against each other to see who is the most disabled to get the parking spots. I don’t like that. Every time I’m in a group of people who start to get almost boastful about how their disability is worse and so they deserve more. Anytime you have that happening, you’re removing some of the BYU aims to create a spiritual environment where people are serving each other because you are making people focus on themselves more and it’s problematic. I felt that way when I didn’t get a parking spot on campus. It shouldn’t be that only some people get parking passes. Different people have different needs at different times. You can’t quantify who needs it the most.