Megan McLaws

During my freshman year, my mom was hounding me a little bit to go to the University Accessibility Center (UAC) and get accommodations for my hearing loss, something I felt totally fine about doing. I had used an FM system in high school, which is a microphone that the teacher can speak into and their voice will go to my hearing aid. It was great! I used this in elementary, middle, and high school. I stopped using it my last two years in high school because the classes were all discussion based and I had them transcribe the notes in class, which was also great! I can’t take notes and listen at the same time!

I went to the UAC to figure out how college was going to work. I brought every piece of documentation I needed. I brought my audiogram from my doctor, a letter from my counselor, a list of all the prior accommodations I had received and several other things. I gave all the documents to the UAC and said I had a hearing loss and needed accommodations. They said someone would be in contact with me so I left all my documentation with them. I never got a call back. I finally went back in and said,  “I left all my documentation and all the required information and you said you’d get back to me, but I haven’t heard back from anyone.” They told me, “Well, we need all your documentation again, do you have it?” and I said, “No, I gave you my only copies.” The UAC then told me I wouldn’t qualify unless I provide the same documentation AGAIN.

Obviously, they had not cared about my request and had lost all my important documents that I needed to get accommodations. These were the only copies I had in Utah and my family recently moved so it would be awhile until I could get their copies. I entrusted them to the UAC because I thought the UAC would be professional in the way they handled them. The UAC covered its mistake by saying I wouldn’t qualify for accommodations. I asked them, “What can I do from here?” They said, there wasn’t anything I could do. As getting copies and doctors notes are a long process, I asked them if I could get them and bring them back later in the semester. They replied that it would probably be too late by then. They only let me to talk with a secretary while all this was happening, I never got referred to anyone else. As a freshman, I didn’t know what to do or how to advocate for myself, and so I just took their authority to be correct. As a super outgoing person, even I struggled to advocate for myself, so I can’t even imagine how someone that was less vocal than me would ever get help. It baffles me.

Because of this one experience, my first few years at BYU were ROUGH. I finally went to an academic advisor because my grades had tanked to C’s D’s and F’s. She asked me if I had ever spoken to the UAC and I told her what had happened. She told me to go back and she said she had heard there was some people who were fired because of that. Finally I got some accommodations, which were supposed to include both transcribers and notetakers, as stated in my accommodation letter. I have never received notetakers which would have been immensely helpful, but at this point, I am just glad to be getting accommodations at all. My transcribers are mostly students and the UAC doesn’t pay them very well. My grades, since I got the accommodations, have been way better.

For the first 2.5 years at BYU, I was refused accommodations, so my overall GPA is terrible. I have talked to my professors about how my more recent grades have been awesome (A’s and high B’s), but that before then I failed a couple classes and got horrible grades. I told them that because of my UAC experience I don’t know if I can get into ANY grad schools. My professors have been super helpful, unlike the UAC. They have tried to help me be successful by looking over grad school applications and letters for me. They’ve been super awesome overall. My experience at BYU has either been fantastic or horrendous. The academics and professors have been great. The horrendous part has been the accessibility.

I also have had issues with panic disorder. I went to BYU for help with that. I went to the counseling office, Title IV office, and the health clinic and they were are awful. You can’t ever get into the counseling center. The BYU health center actually prescribed a medication, which I was totally fine with taking but I felt a strong urge not to. I found out later that the medication was recalled recently and they should have never prescribed. (Medical malpractice). Needless to say that I never went back.

They are very good about putting on a front of being accommodating, but they don't actually follow through.

There's not very many people I can find that have a disability, and I think that's in part because it is so inaccessible. One one hand their argument (that is completely wrong) is that they don't have to comply with the ADA law, it's not their job and they can be choosy. But if they are going to accept people with disabilities they have to accommodate them. And if they don’t want to accept people with disabilities, that is blatant discrimination. They want the minority points without putting in the work.