Personal Statements on Disability at BYU
The Equal Access and Disability Rights Commission has collected personal statements from forty-three students, alumni, and others in the BYU community about their experiences with disability at BYU and put these in the report sent to administration. This online database now includes more than the 43 given to BYU as we continue to bolster disabled voices.
We encourage you to read through these statements to get a better sense of the experiences disabled students have had while at the university. These statements represent the experiences of their authors and any individual statement may not be representative of the experiences of others. Truth Commissions are a valid research technique and do not require individual statements to use legal jargon in explanations of their experiences. Some exaggerations are to be expected. It is not reasonable to expect disabled students to speak as in a court of law. If you would like to share your own experience please submit below. This page will be continually updated with statements as the come.
Collecting Student Statements
Statements were collected through many channels including in-person interviews, audio recordings, e-mail, and social media. On social media, students were urged to contact the Commission if they identified as disabled, temporarily disabled, invisibly disabled, had disabled family members, a chronic illness, a mental illness, or were connected with disability in any way. When students or alumni reached out to the Commission, they were asked to speak about their experience at BYU and if they had any solutions they felt would benefit BYU. Participants were advised to avoid demeaning the university. Other disabled students were contacted on campus by commissioners. With the student’s consent, they would either email their statement to the Commission or participate in an in-person interview. Interviews were recorded and commissioners transcribed each recorded statement before emailing the transcription to the students for clarification. All participants were informed that their statements would be published. They were given the choice to remain anonymous or to have their name published with their statement. All statements consist of both current students and alumni. These statements are alphabetized by first name for an unbiased organization.
An Important Note About Student Statements:
It is important to recognize the strength and spirit of those sharing their experiences with the Commission. In conducting interviews and gathering statements, we often ran into the issue of fear. This was a fear that speaking out and asking for equal access- a right students should already have- would lead to academic and social repercussions, including having accommodations revoked. Therefore, several students have preferred to remain anonymous. This is indicative of a culture that has been unwittingly created- a culture that says disabled students are a burden, that BYU is a perfect institution, and that asking for improvement at BYU is unjustified. Many of us are familiar with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s statement that: “imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with,” yet too often, the actions and policies of BYU and its employees are equated with the perfect teachings of Christ’s gospel. This mistaken belief has profound effects on faithful students who see BYU as completely infallible because they have faith that Christ and His gospel are perfect. Thus, expressing a desire for change at BYU causes guilt for these students as they feel they are criticizing the gospel and the church. Part of the Commission’s goal by sharing these statements is to transform BYU into a more loving environment. The statements help us see the specific issues that need to be addressed in order to assist BYU in giving more Christlike treatment to their disabled brothers and sisters. We seek to uplift by spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging and building character at BYU. We hope that our efforts will result in a BYU environment where disabled students feel safe participating because they receive the access and accommodations they need without having to fight for them.