Mandi Eatough


The course policies for many courses on campus were incompatible with some of the accommodations specified in my accommodations letter (excused absences and extended deadlines when I was too ill to be in class). While some faculty members were willing to work with me on these problems, I had many who told me that they wouldn’t accommodate me. Dealing with the stress of trying to gain access to courses where faculty members clearly didn’t want me to be successful often meant I did worse in those classes.

As a student with an invisible disability I faced a number of faculty members who were skeptical (at best) or disbelieving (generally) about my need for accommodations. This meant that I was tasked with either educating the professors about my illness/invisible disabilities generally or I worked overtime to make sure I wouldn’t need accommodations in their class.

There is virtually no training for faculty members about accommodations and accessibility. Many of my good experiences with professors involved me doing that training myself and them being willing to learn from what I was saying. Many of my worst experiences with professors involved me being accused of asking for special treatment and denied accommodations. At the time I didn’t know enough about my rights to identify this for the discrimination that it was, and even if I had the power dynamic in confronting a faculty member for that is impossible to grapple with. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of a student to tell a faculty that their actions are discriminatory (and illegal) when the university hasn’t done the work to train faculty about these issues in the first place.

Physical Campus

As BYU has worked to push campus as a walking campus, the availability of parking, including disability stalls, has become a major issue. As a student with a physical condition that makes walking long distances incredibly difficult, I often found myself parking across campus from where I needed to be just to find an open parking spot. Many of the disability stalls I had used for parking on campus early on in my time there were removed or obstructed during the construction of a number of buildings on campus. When I asked the parking and accessibility offices about this issue, they both assured me that they were dedicated to keeping enough spots available for those who “really need them”. I asked if they knew how many full time faculty/students had disabled parking placards and was told that they didn’t keep track. Based on my experience there aren’t enough spots to begin with. Them being blocked by construction materials & equipment for months at a time only reinforced that disability parking wasn’t actually being considered an important issue.

I lived on campus in Heritage Halls and experienced individuals parking illegally in or behind the disability parking stalls (by buildings 9 & 10) on a daily basis. I was regularly unable to park or un-park my car because people treated those spots as a pick-up/drop-off zone. If this was outside of main parking hours for campus it was essentially impossible to get campus parking or police to ticket the vehicles that made it impossible for me to leave or go home. I regularly had to park in the Law School parking lot across the street because of illegally parked cars which on bad days caused major flares in my symptoms”

Accessibility Center

The accessibility center focuses most of their advocacy and work on campus around mental health and learning-based disabilities. Both of these are incredibly important (and statistically are likely to make up much of the in-office accommodations work the UAC deals with) but it hurts to be a student with physical disabilities who is publicly ignored by the office. Every year the office sponsors a Disability Awareness Week on campus and nearly all the events (if not all in some years) focused around mental health or learning disabilities. Both of these are important and good topics to be highlighting on campus, but it’s hard to not feel like an afterthought when physical disabilities are left off the table for discussion.