Two and a half weeks ago, I broke my foot. Though I was put in a walking boot, I was quickly banished back to crutches because I don’t know how to take it easy, campus is HUGE, and I do a LOT of walking in a normal school day. I have quickly found that, while I’m pretty sure the campus is technically accessible, I have to go way out of my way to find ramps or elevators. I’ve been late to pretty much every class, even leaving earlier than normal, because it is so hard to navigate with crutches. My classes tend to hop from the HFAC to the RB, a trek for even the most able-bodied. Teachers say they’ll work with me, but they also kinda don’t. I spend most evenings exhausted, frustrated, and in so much pain— just from going to all my classes. I’m sure you already know this, but like half of the handicap buttons to open doors just straight up don’t work! It’s like YOU HAD ONE JOB.
I am registered with the accessibility office because I have moderate-severe progressive hearing loss. I have found them to be so helpful, and have tons of options for me. I don’t use many at the moment, because I generally just use my hearing aids and try to get a front row(ish) seat in my classes, but as my hearing gets worse it is nice to know I have options and support. My favorite part about having a registered disability with the university is priority registration. Most people don’t know I have this hidden disability, and though I make it work, plenty of things slip through the cracks and can be really hard to recover from. I don’t even think my employers know about this disability, though I wear my hearing aids to work. I can’t really have a job The relies on my answering phones because I rely so much on reading lips and facial expressions.
Last semester, I was diagnosed with Mono. Which SUUUUCKED. Not only was I tired all the time, I also became very depressed by how tired I was all the time. I was able to get a medical petition to lower credits signed, which was really nice because that way I could take fewer classes and keep my scholarship. That being said, I have really struggled with depression and anxiety in general and I know I’m not alone. I know you can be granted accessibility resources through the university, much like my hearing disability, but mental health is so much harder to document and prove to the system. I feel like I am unable to take care of my mental health needs without seriously harming my academic record, and as a student fully supporting myself financially, scholarships are pretty important. I wish there were better ways to communicate such things with teachers, that don’t take months to years of medical documentation and jumping through hoops.