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.
They need to hear about that reason and see the bigger picture. Making us have to go across campus to access meetings or classes is not ok if it can be avoided.
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 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.
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.
Then I got to the point where I could drive but I still couldn't walk very well and so if I had classes in the JKB I could park in the parking lot right next to it but if I had my classes and in the Joseph Smith building I'd have to walk all the way across campus, and that was really hard.
A door closed on me too fast and it broke my foot when I was going through in my powerchair.
My main complaint is with BYU Parking. It took me over a year to figure out BYU's policy on where students with disabilities can park, because only until about a year ago was the information clearly displayed on the website. For over a year, I was never sure where I could park, even though I have a handicapped placard. Now I know that I can park in any parking lot, in any slot (excluding those reserved for service vehicles, deans, or specific placard numbers) as long as I have my placard up.
Though I was only in a wheelchair for a few months, I truly came to understand what it meant for BYU students to “go forth to serve.” There definitely needs to be some improvement to the accessibility of BYU campus, but as long as the students and faculty continue to show love, all will feel welcome.
The students need to do better though. The sentiment of ‘Enter to learn, go forth to serve’ fosters a spirit of generosity and service. However, that service doesn’t always need to be lofty. Sometimes, it is simply looking around you to see who needs help.
I’m not taking any classes right now so I haven’t been on campus for a little while, but I do know that I don’t love most of the bathrooms. I can only use some, I go to the JSB, WILK, and they took a door off a bathroom in the Tanner so that one is nice. I have found a few that work for me so sometimes I will go to different buildings to use the restroom. It didn’t ruin my life while I was there but, it did mean that I had to plan out my day.
I felt like for the most part, it was easy for me to get around thanks to BYU. One of my struggles would be the buttons for sure. I ran into the problem of them not working or having things in front of them so I could not get to them. I think for the most part the snow was pretty cleared, but I did felt like there were days I had problems with getting around with the snow.