Angela Walser

I was a freshman at BYU in 2010. One day during my first semester, I was riding my bike home to Wyview Park on University Parkway. A car cut into the bike lane and I was unable to stop, I hit the back of the car and flew over it, landing in the street. The car drove off, but luckily the farmer's market that takes place in the stadium parking lot was in full swing and some good Samaritans came out and directed traffic around me and helped me and my bike over to the sidewalk.

I got out of the whole scenario largely unscathed. I had some road rash and a bruise on my forehead, but the greatest impact on my life was from two severely sprained wrists with small ligament tears. No breaks, but I was advised by a doctor to wear wrist braces for about 6 weeks. Gripping things was very hard, even taking off the braces to try and pinch something caused sharp pain. So, as you might expect, the doctor told me not to do so. I'm stubborn, so I kept trying, but eventually learned that if I didn't want to break all of my dishes I should probably ask for help.

One form of help I asked for was from the University Accessibility Center. I requested a notetaker for my classes, as I was unable to type or hold a pencil. I explained that I needed the help starting ASAP but would only need it for six weeks while my wrists healed. I was under the impression that they would be fully able to meet this need.

I was never contacted by anyone and apart from a few friends I had made and some begging, I did not get any help with note taking. At about 5 weeks into my recovery, when my wrists were just about healed, I received a number of emails telling me that there was someone in my classes in need of a note taker. I toyed with the idea of responding that, once my braces were off in a week, I would be happy to volunteer! Then I suddenly realized that the emails were for each and every one of my classes, and that the student needing notes was me.

I requested that the University Accessibility Center rescind the request, because at 5 weeks, it was far too late to be helpful. It was baffling to me that it took 5 weeks for them to process my request and send out an email, I would think the process could easily be done within a day or at least a week of my request. I doubt it would be that hard to write a program that would automatically send out a basic form email for notetakers. I’m pretty sure that type of program could be written in a couple of days, and it shouldn’t take more than a day or so to process that request. It was pretty crazy to not receive any help for so long.

The other great struggle that stuck with me was the testing center. I only needed to take one test during this 6 week ordeal, and I had asked for help from my professor to communicate to the testing center my need for an aide to fill in the bubbles on the test or for another means of reporting my answers. I was happy to do all of my own thinking and work, all I needed was to be able to say or type "The answer to number 5 is C" and have someone else do the pencil gripping and precise, fine-motor-skill-needing task of filling in the bubble.

The testing center set me up alone in a room with a computer. I asked if this computer was able to report answers on the test for me, if I was somehow able to submit my answers on it through typing. Nope. It was just a computer. I re-clarified my need with the employee–I didn't need help understanding or processing the test material. I just needed someone to fill in the bubbles. He said they couldn't do that.

I answered the 20-or-less questions by typing them out on the computer in the Notepad app. It probably took me 45 minutes or so to answer the questions. It took me the remaining time limit of the test (probably 1hr 15 minutes) to painstakingly fill in the bubbles, taking breaks often to massage my wrists and praying that I wasn't damaging them and setting myself back in recovery. It hurt! The biggest perk of having a room to myself was that I didn't disrupt others with my wincing and hissing through it.

I think that the University Accessibility Center may do decently well with students with long-term disabilities. But for short term needs for a short term disability I was left high and dry.