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What's It's Like, #10

Posted by Communications, Marketing and Creative Services on December 5, 2022 in Community Highlights

What It’s Like is a series for Dalhousie Accessibility Week, one that provides members of the Dal community with an opportunity to share their first-person perspective on living with a disability. People are welcome to share with their name or anonymously.

Submitted by Anonymous:

Tell us a little about yourself and your role here at Dal.

I am a Law student at Dal. 

What do you wish people knew about your disability?

What I wish people knew about my disability: Not all disabilities are visible, and disabilities don't just affect older people. When I use a walking aide around campus I am stared at, told I'm faking or too young to have chronic pain or too young to have mobility/walking difficulties. I've even been asked by security upon parking in an accessible space if the accessible pass in the window belongs to me. While people may abuse accessible passes from time to time, to automatically assume that someone is abusing an accessible pass is to discriminate against (perceived) ability/disability.

What accessibility changes would have the biggest impact on your experience here at Dal?

Two major changes required to impact my experience:

First and foremost, the Accessibility Center's approach to requests requires serious review. They ask for irrelevant and detailed medical information in making assessments that doctors are unwilling to provide without additional forms from Dal. They treat students with disabilities as if they are difficult employees rather than people seeking help. Ultimately, if someone's family doctor provides a form or note that states the person requires an accommodation of some form, the accessibility center has no right to disagree; they are not physicians.

Secondly, across Dalhousie's campuses is a lack of automated/accessible doors. Take a look around at the washroom facilities. One might think a washroom is accessible if it has a stall designed to accommodate wheelchair users. But ask yourselves this: if the door to the washroom only opens manually, could you possibly open it while sitting in a wheelchair? The answer is "not without great difficulty." The same goes for users of walkers, canes or other walking or visual aids. Imagine walking with a cane in one hand and a coffee or book in another, only to approach a door in your building that only opens manually. These issues are throughout the entire campus and seriously inhibit upon the accessibility of the campus.

Previously in this series:

You can find all entries collected here.