I was so impressed when my online program made sure all students were aware that they could still ask for accommodations for such things if needed. I attended both BYU and BYU-I and never once heard a professor mention to students that such resources were available.
The biggest challenge in being in a wheelchair/crutches/a cane was how long it took to get around campus. I don't know if the school can change this, but it's worth mentioning how those with impaired movements need to expend an extra amount of energy getting around campus. On the other hand, I found this aspect of University life enjoyable even though I was impaired. One plus to BYU is that unlike most campuses, most of the buildings with classes are fairly close together. Benches and places in between building to sit made things easier on me. I'm so grateful for that.
In addition the lack of parking makes it very difficult for me to make it to classes. They continuously build new things and take away more parking access. It’s frustrating
I wish that more students knew about the process for getting accommodations, and that there wasn’t such a stigma about asking for accommodations. It would also be nice if the website had more specific examples from REAL STUDENTS (they don’t have to say their names) about how the UAC has helped them.
Between these two elevators, however, there is another elevator for faculty members which only gives access to students on a certain floors or card access is required in order to use it. During this time, I thought that it would be nice if disabled students can have access to this elevator, since there is less traffic than other two elevators.
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 wish could say I had a better freshman experience than I did. I was living in on-campus housing and was taking more credits than I should have. At first, I could handle the challenge. Then my anxiety started to creep in. I would have depressive episodes that lasted for days, skipping classes, sleeping in, not being able to eat. It was terrible! My grades and my mental health suffered greatly.
I have been able to go to many campuses across the country and I have to say BYU is probably one of the least accessible campuses I have been on. It is also the one that I have been on the most so I have more time to notice things that would be helpful if available.
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.
BYU also does not have enough handicapped parking. When I had a torn ACL and when my friend was in a wheelchair, we learned that we had to be at campus bright and early if we wanted to get a handicapped spot. There simply are not enough spots to accommodate the students that need them. While a handicapped pass at BYU qualifies students to park in any parking spot, parking on the far end of a parking lot is completely disheartening when you know you have 8 minutes to make it to class, and a whole lot of ice and snow to crutch over.
I originally didn’t know that there were accommodations for people with mental illness until my friend at BYU-I suggested it, because she got some for ADHD. I made an appointment, but it took me weeks to get in. By the time I got in my mental health was a wreck. I came in crying and hyperventilating with doctors’ notes and he still tried to push me into having less accommodations. I was at a breaking point, and I finally got the accommodations that I so desperately needed.
The stairs are also something I never want to deal with again. I am grateful I have the ability to walk up the stairs, but during days of fatigue, aches and pain, and general brain fog attributed to the fibromyalgia condition, stairs and inclines were just the daily torture. The hills were sometimes worse than stairs. I remember trying so hard to rush to my classes, and being in just a lot of pain. And the pain wouldn’t go away right away.
I applied for an emotional support cat fairly early last semester, in about September. I was able to get a doctor's note very quickly and submit my request, and within about 2 weeks it was approved by the campus disability office. However, I still needed to get permission from housing, and that is where the problems came.
This meeting I asked if I could receive any testing accommodations as I had recently had a panic attack in the Testing Center. This meeting was not as productive. When attendance was brought up again she said something to the effect of "I don't know exactly how this works but from what I can understand you can get yourself up if you try so keep trying" in response to continuing my attendance accommodations.
Probably the most frustrating thing about trying to go to BYU as a disabled student is how hard it is to feel normal. Laws and ramps and elevators are great and all, but if the professors aren’t willing to help, it can be so difficult. I’m here at BYU because I want to learn, because I want to be a good student. But I can’t do my best because things happen.