Access Denied

“No, you have to go down the stairs,” the hall security worker at Wolfe Hall claimed. “The elevator doesn’t run after eight.”

I could barely walk from hobbling around all day on a sprained ankle and crutches. All I wanted was a decent meal from T/W to get some of my lost energy back. But I was forced to crutch my way down the slippery steps of Wolfe.

The elevators in Travers and Wolfe halls do not descend to the basement floor after 8 p.m. for fear of someone sneaking into the dorms at night.

So, here I am crutching my way down the steps just to reach some food. One wrong move and everyone walking in front of me would have broken my fall. My only other option was to hobble to the back of T/W, but I wasn’t up for it.

What would have happened if I couldn’t get down the stairs on my crutches? What if I did fall? What if I was stuck in a wheelchair and did not have the energy to go to the other side of the building?

I called the office of Residential and Community Development, which had no idea why there was not another way to get into T/W. My call was redirected to Terry Yamiolkowski, the disability coordinator of the College, who said that Residential and Community Development should have been able to take care of my call.

Apparently, I could have worked my way into getting a temporary access pass to use elevators on campus. If I happened to be permanently handicapped, I could receive full access. The problem is that no one ever told me this. Yamiolkowski agrees that Residential and Community Development should have alerted me to this when I went to T/W in the first place. They obviously saw I was in crutches and should have at least redirected me to their manager.

So how do we correct this problem? Something needs to be implemented in the training of hall security workers so they know where to direct a person who may have trouble getting down the stairs. Yamiolkowski agrees that people in those kind of positions should go through comprehensive disability training.

I was injured on campus in the Student Recreation Center playing in an intramural basketball game. The Lions’ EMS service and the Recreation Center staff should also be taught that this kind of access exists and should be able to alert me to it.

In a perfect world there would be handicapped access to all sides of a building, but for now, the College, as it stands, meets all building codes and in most areas surpasses these codes. The codes, unfortunately, are not 100 percent convenient, just accessible.

Yamiolkowski alerted me to the difference between being handicapped at high schools and at colleges. High schools are required to provide aides and assistants whereas colleges are only required to provide access, not success.

Until there are handicapped ramps and entrances on all sides of buildings, I’ll be hanging at the top of the steps, bad ankles and all.