Palakiko Chandler

At BYU, I am a program director for elementary students with various disabilities. I have also dated a deaf person. From these experiences I have realized that BYU needs to move more resources for accessibility to its student and the community. We play with children at the pool and at the gym, every Thursday and Friday from 11AM-11:50AM. At the pool, we have a girl in a wheelchair that loves the water. When she first came in January, we put her in the lift that allowed her to get into the water. The problem was that the chair couldn’t bring her up. The chair was broken. Me and a couple of the other volunteers would help her every Thursday, getting in and out of the pool. We would prop her out of her chair, maneuver her to the side of the pool, and would help her get in and back out. It took two whole months to fix the lift chair. Although we are grateful it was fixed, and the lifeguards were very important in helping that happen, for two whole months we allowed a young girl in a wheelchair to think that the lift not working was okay. BUT IT IS NOT. I would tell her every time I carried her to the pool, that she deserved the chair to work. Accessibility is not for the rich, it is not a luxury, nor should it be “a special arrangement” it is for everyone.

Friends who have depression have gone to the Accessibility Office gotten notes for late homework, and I know teachers who have right up told them that they are “fine” to turn things in on time. BYU needs to change. For being part of a religion who has faced persecution for being a religious minority, we sure do a bang up job recognizing and providing access to other minority groups, other than religion. Because believe it or not, those are the people are called to serve.

Back to the issue at hand. Accessibility allows us to be more inclusive because it helps people who have a disability feel like they can participate like everyone without being singled out.