On a typical morning I wake up, put on my calf braces and while getting ready analyze every single accessibility obstacle I will encounter throughout the day when traveling to my destination and then I walk out the door.
For you running through your mind might be does my breath smell ratchet, do i look semi decent, ugh i have to get up in front of people and talk.
For me I’m thinking about how far is the walk? Are there stairs? If so, is there a handrail? Are the stairs shallow or deep? Is the terrain uneven? What about bathrooms, are they accessible? Sweet, Im going to journalism today, they have automatic doors, me likey. Are there chairs for me to sit if I get tired? Do the chairs have armrests for me to get up? Are the tables square or round?
At 8 years old, I was diagnosed with Facioscapulo humeral muscular dystrophy. Try saying that five times fast. It is the most prevalent form of muscular dystrophy that affects primarily my face, shoulders, and humeral muscles that eventually takes over my whole body. The deterioration process is slow but it depends on the year. 7 years ago, I could run and play competitive sports, 2 years ago I could hold a dinner plate at a 90˚ angle. Next year— I could be riding dirty in a scooter Down Sanford drive— who knows. I could spend all day listing everything I can’t do, but that would be a waste of time. The things I can do: make the world a more accessible place.
Stairs and I have a love-hate relationship. When i see any form of step I make the quick decision— stairs or ramp with distance? What is the depth/width/height/handrail/terrain or the stairs? How far do I have to go out of my way to take the ramp? Sometimes the stairs outweigh the ramp because it is easier to just take the 12 steps instead of than walking that much farther and getting fatigued.
What’s the point? It’s just a curb cut.
I physically can’t afford to sit on the sidelines/ have one butt cheek on the line type of thing. So I started to take action into my own hands because I refuse to hope and pray that things will change. During my freshman year I contemplated how I would leave my mark, I then thought back on my tour of UGA.
The first stop was at the Arch— we had to walk up those 6 uneven steps. I knew in the back of my mind— given my condition, I probably won’t be able to walk down those stairs in 4 years when I go to partake in the most rewarding of UGA traditions. That was it. Thus, throughout my tenure, it has been my mission to increase disability awareness, inform the Disability Resource Center when certain areas that need ADA improvements in hopes that it reaches into the Athens community.
For the first time in UGA’s history, a temporary platform was installed on May 11, 2014 which allowed every alumnae the opportunity to pass under and through the Arch.
From the Arch project, my efforts stemmed into other minor suggestions throughout campus such as identifying curb cuts, bathroom hooks, and classroom accessibility. I’m also really excited to announce the curb cuts at the Biological Science bus stop and Boyd Graduate Studies and have been approved in the budget for the 2014-2015 year!
In the last quarter century, many individuals like myself have fought for accommodations and insisted upon equal access because let’s be honest the world is still an inaccessible place. There are stairs everywhere, few curb cuts, uneven surfaces for walking or rolling, narrow entrance ways, and heavy doors to name a few. While we are figuratively speaking are taking steps in the right direction— we still have a long way to go.
Eventually you will get old, wrinkly, and face similar challenges that I do now. Or perhaps you injure yourself and are on crutches/need to use a wheelchair for a short amount of time. Some of my constant over analyzation thoughts will begin to cross your mind.
I encourage you to open up your eyes and look. When you take a step off the curb look to see if there is a curb cut within the general vicinity or if you walk into a bathroom that is not accessible.
We need to make the world equally accessible by taking away one step at a time.
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