The absolute worst time to be handicapped on campus is during the winter!! I can’t count the amount of times I’ve slipped and fallen on ice while walking to class. In addition, I often slip when I walk into buildings where there’s no mat or anything and the floors get wet from students walking around with wet shoes. Sometimes on especially snowy days, I can’t get to campus at all and I’m forced to miss class.
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.
Occasionally there would be semesters that were so bad health-wise that after a while, it just got so embarrassing to email to professor that I just stopped. I felt so ashamed. And then even when I did feel good, sometimes I couldn’t get myself to go because it had been so long since I’d been to class. I was ashamed and embarrassed and afraid. My accommodations letter stated that the professor needed to be lenient with absences and that the student and teacher needed to decide on a specific number of absences that would be appropriate. However, when you have a disease that makes you so sick you are bound to your bed for hours, and sometimes days, you just can’t pre-determine how many days that semester, for that specific class you’re going to be healthy. That’s just not how it works.
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.
My daughter, Kendra Muller, and I had a very difficult time working with the BYU Accessibility Center. We were surprised in the lack of willingness to work with us to give accommodations for her. We went to several other state universities and were given much more personal attention and willingness to work with us on different needs for her accessibility. This was ironic considering the fact that BYU’s mission centers around Christlike love and service
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.
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.
I am a student athlete at BYU and I spent 10 weeks on crutches last year. I ultimately stopped going to class for the rest of the semester because of the amount of anxiety it gave me to go up those stairs.
A door closed on me too fast and it broke my foot when I was going through in my powerchair.
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.