By Johanna Calderon
Attending school in a power wheelchair, especially during a rainstorm, is very difficult. I’ve used a wheelchair since I was 14 years old, because when I was one year old I sustained a brain injury that affects the left side of my body.
When it’s raining really hard, it is very difficult to drive the wheelchair because one must hold an umbrella while trying to see and drive, all while also trying to avoid tipping over. Another issue is the power-chair battery. Sometimes the battery dies too quickly, even if the chair was left to charge all night.
If the battery needs to be replaced, a doctor’s prescription is required. The doctor then has to fax it over to the vendor, which makes the process very time-consuming.
Students sometimes need to have a spare battery on hand in case it needs to be recharged, but what if you are in a place with no outlet?
If you are stuck, then you are forced to ask somebody to help push the wheelchair. Unfortunately, there is the possibility that there’s nobody around.The worst part is waiting for a insurance to approve a repair. It makes it very difficult to get another wheelchair since it isn’t always covered by insurance.
The next option is to use a broken wheelchair with precaution. If the insurance company approves the repair, it might take two weeks to get the wheelchair back. In addition, disabled students might not have someone to take them to school.
Disabled students can’t call Uber or Lyft because they don’t have ramps to enter their vehicles.
The app says these services are available, but upon request, they never are.
It can be very frustrating. One solution is using Access Services to get picked up at home. Students have to make a reservation a day before and check if the time they need is available. There have been a couple times where drivers have left me. A shuttle for students to take them from the South Gate Campus to the main campus is available, but the major problem with this is that the shuttle keeps breaking down, and the company often sends another bus with no ramp.It is frustrating when disabled students aren’t provided with a ramp. What is concerning is that the owner knows that disabled students are using it.
Recently, it happened again, the shuttle didn’t have a ramp, but this time the owner of the bus company kindly came to campus and took me home.
Another option is taking the bus, but when it rains it can be dangerous because the chair can slide and tip over.
I would have to know what the bus schedule is and if there’s space for a wheelchair in it. Sometimes if there are two wheelchairs one student will have to wait for another bus. Not all professors understand the situations their students are in. For example, some professors only allow three absences.
When students max-out available absences, most professors deduct points. There was one occasion where I failed my final, because I missed class due to the rain. There are solutions, like a power wheelchair that folds so that it can be put in the trunk of a car. But, those cost a lot money, money that I do not have. There’s a company, EZ Lite Cruiser, that has a Deluxe Regular DX12 chair. The cost of this type of wheelchair is $2,595. Disabled students find it difficult to save up for the cost of this wheelchair if they are receiving Social Security benefits and cannot have more the $2,000 in their bank account.
ELAC needs to improve ways for disabled students to get to school so that they don’t get injured during crazy weather. One solution can be increasing the number of outlets on campus for disabled students, this would give them more places to charge their batteries.