Letter to the Editor: I Have Sustained Injuries Because This University Isn’t Handicap Accessable

As a student at the University of the Incarnate Word, I have encountered many obstacles while going to class, and people have confronted me about how I would change or notify others to make the campus more handicapped-accessible.

I often wonder why they don’t speak up themselves if they know the campus is not accessible.

Once I was going into the library and I encountered a young woman who asked me why I don’t write or deposit a letter in the comment box. I don’t know why they don’t speak up. The library needs two door openers because they have two doors that have a ramp that make them handicapped-accessible.

There is only one accessible van and they are supposed to all be wheelchair-accessible,  according to the ADA. But there is only one. So I often have to wait for them to get the bus down there by the grotto. One time I was going to Java on the Hill with my sorority sisters, and they had to wait with me because they didn’t want to leave me behind because there is only one handicapped-accessible bus with a wheelchair lift. And I was also late to class coming back because there is only one handicapped-accessible bus with a wheelchair lift. If all the buses were handicapped-accessible, I would not have to wait. Make all the buses handicapped-accessible; no discrimination!

As a college freshman, it was finals week. I had a presentation on Albert Einstein for my Prayer and Spirituality class. My class was in the AD Building so I had to go to the second floor.  I had my crutches and a backpack, and was walking to class. I was late, so there was nobody around to open the door for me. Walking to class I opened the door, went across the breezeway and opened the second door. My crutch got stuck in the doorway and I couldn’t move out. I fell and hit my head on the concrete. I was lying there, screaming. I knew my head was injured because I had a burning sensation. I screamed, I screamed, and eventually people showed up. I don’t know how long I screamed, but it was a while. I didn’t know what was going on because I didn’t see the blood until they moved me up. They told me, “Don’t move!  Don’t move!” They wouldn’t let me go to class after that. I had to go in the ambulance and get my head stapled with three staples even though I pleaded with them that I looked fine because I looked like Albert Einstein. My grandmother, who lives in San Antonio, was distressed. If the building were handicapped-accessible, I would not have had this accident. That’s why I roll around in my wheelchair all the time.

The Student Center has a doorbell. Why do I have to request access to the building if other people can just walk in? Right now, it’s broken. Get a door-opener, Ding-Dong!

The University of the Incarnate Word mission statement, adopted in 1996, reads, in part:

“The University is committed to educational excellence in a context of faith in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God. It promotes lifelong learning and fosters the development of the whole person … The University is open to thoughtful innovation that serves ever more effectively the spiritual and material needs of people. The curriculum offers students … an emphasis on social justice… The University of the Incarnate Word is a Catholic institution that welcomes to its community persons of diverse backgrounds, in the belief that their respectful interaction advances the discovery of truth, mutual understanding, self-realization, and the common good.”

The U.S. Catholic Bishops’ 1978 Pastoral Statement on Disability reads, in part:

“[All members of the Church] engaged in [a] program [to provide services for people with disabilities] should help the [community] by developing policy and translating it into practical strategies for working with individuals with disabilities. They should serve as advocates, seeking help from other agencies. Finally, they should monitor public policy and generate multifaceted educational opportunities for those who minister to and with people with disabilities.”

If the university would make the changes that I mentioned in this letter, it would be more in line with the mission of this university. I know they are more than willing to accommodate me as well as others to follow their mission statement.

Trudy Lettunich


One thought on “Letter to the Editor: I Have Sustained Injuries Because This University Isn’t Handicap Accessable

  • November 30, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I am a student at UIW, McNair Scholar, and the mother of 18-year-old twin boys with Cerebral Palsy. I will be graduating December 2010, and both of my boys will be graduating from Churchill High School, with honors, in June 2011.

    During the Summer, I had to take two courses in order for me to graduate in December, but I also had major surgery on both of my feet, which left me wheelchair-bound for months. The inaccessibility of the campus, for someone with a temporary disability, is just as frightening for someone who has been disabled for a longer period of time. The complications are many, and the anxiety of not being able to successfully attend my classes or even access the buildings in which my classes were, which was something I only had to deal with for a short time. In having a temporary disability I realized that students with disabilities on campus have to deal with many issues most people do not even consider.

    One of my boys, who is dependent on his power wheelchair, is looking at attending UIW after he graduates, but with the state of the campus and its lack of safe accommodations and accessibility compliance, I am really concerned for my son’s welfare if he does choose to go to UIW. The laws, rules, and regulations, set forth by the federal government, which have been put in place to protect people with disabilities, seem to be things that are very much overlooked at UIW.

    What will it take for UIW to fully comply with providing and maintaining the equality of all individuals they serve? It should not take a student with disability to sustain a major injury for this issue to be of the utmost importance. Students with disabilities are just as important as those without disabilities, and the accommodations and accessibility toward their own success, on all areas of the UIW campus, should be put in place, no matter what the cost.

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