Until I spent two days like I was in a wheelchair did I understand just how difficult and inconvenient it was to get around campus. I have seen students in wheelchairs and had some in my classes, so I was surprised just how difficult it is to get places. For one, I tend to take the bus since it’s convenient; however, that’s where the first problem arises. The buses don’t have any wheelchair access, at least not the U and RU, so the bus is no longer an option. The next problem is actually getting into classes. Most of the wheelchair accessible entrances are not immediately seen. In fact, most are on the sides or back of buildings. This is true for both Howell and Bingham. But getting into Phillips is probably the most annoying. You can either go in through Chapman and take the bridge to Phillips and take the elevators or you can take the ramp that is hidden on the side of Phillips. Once through that door, you then have to take an elevator to get to the classrooms. Getting into Murray is probably the easiest since you can just enter through the doors and stay at the back of the room or take an elevator down to the first floor and get in that way. Although the doors at the top are not automated with a wheelchair button. Again, since I’m not actually in a wheelchair I don’t know if it is easy to open up a normal door, but I feel like it requires some finesse and wouldn’t be easy. That is why automated doors are the next big problem. While there might be entrances that don’t require stairs, some of the doors are not automated with a wheelchair accessible button. This is the biggest problem for Hinton James, in fact, you couldn’t live in Hinton James if you were in a wheelchair. First off, the only way to enter the building is to go around the side and use one of the doors to enter into the lobby and take the elevator up. But getting to the elevators requires going through at least two doors, none of which are automated. Finally, I wouldn’t even be able to use the bathroom since there is a step to enter the bathroom. Now, when it comes to eating, Chase is on the ground floor and no stairs are required. Lenoir isn’t that bad since there is an elevator in the back but it’s still not that convenient since you can only enter through the back. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen someone with a wheelchair in Chase or Lenoir and now that I’m aware of what actually is wheelchair accessible I can see why.
It just seems odd to me that a lot of buildings are either not accessible or have poor accessibility, considering I do see at least one person a day in a wheelchair. It makes getting to class more of a hassle and you really have to plan out your route. Only after looking at the disability map did I even realize that some buildings had elevators or ramps since I had never seen them before. Doing this opened my eyes to how the age of this campus makes it hard for much-needed innovations to be made. The fact that most of the campus is not accessible for people with disabilities shows that it’s not a priority to the campus, even though there are students that it affects. Especially in this day and age, it seems that a school would be conscious of how they affect their student’s ability to learn. I’m sure if everyone did this exercise some changes would be made; because otherwise, it is easy for people to ignore something when it doesn’t affect them personally.