Students On The Move Despite Various Injuries
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
This is the final installment in a three part series on student disabilities at Boston College.
No Boston College student is invincible. Accidents happen to everyone, which is evident by the number of casts and slings that can be seen around campus at various times. Though temporary disabilities are relatively short-lived for the students that have to deal with them, they still have a major impact on an injured student’s college experience.
Paulette Durrett, assistant dean for students with disabilities in the Office of the Dean for Student Development (ODSD), is tasked with aiding students who have temporary disabilities as well as permanent disabilities.
“People with temporary disabilities aren’t really covered under legislation, so what can you do if somebody comes in with a broken ankle?” she said. “It just makes sense to accommodate them, and it shouldn’t be that big a drain on resources because it’s a temporary disability.”
BC students who have gone through the experience of being temporarily disabled agree that accommodations are necessary to help deal with some of the complications a temporary physical ailment can bring about.
“From Edmond’s to the B-line, it seems like it’s right there, but when you’re on crutches it’s like a mile in your eyes,” said a junior who has recovered from a knee injury.
Physical mobility is obviously an issue for students with temporary physical disabilities. Offering accommodations that target this issue is one of the major ways in which Durrett aids temporarily disabled students.
“A person may come in with a broken ankle,” Durrett said. “I would work with BCPD and the Eagle Escort van to make sure they could pick them up here and take them to the library so they could study, or the Bookstore so they could buy books, because if you’re on crutches it’s hard to carry the books and walk on your crutches.”
The junior, who wishes to remain anonymous, took advantage of this accommodation, but still felt constrained by her injury.
“[Dean Durrett’s office] worked with Eagle Escort and BCPD to let them know that I was on the medical list and had a hard time moving,” she said. “That increased the amount of times I could call Eagle Escort. You should only use Eagle Escort twice a day, but sometimes they were a little more lenient. I’m the type of person that’s always on the go. From 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. I have meetings, meetings, meetings, so that was very hard.”
The student also noted the problems that BC’s large population can create for students with temporary disabilities.
“Eagle Escort was supposed to work only at the beginning of the day and the end of the day,” she said. “Once I got to middle campus, if I had time between classes and wanted to rest, I was supposed to go to the infirmary and wait there until my next class if I was tired, which you are with crutches. I could only go there if there was an available room, which they didn’t always have. That was a flaw in the system.”
Offering handicapped parking to students with temporary disabilities is one other way in which Durrett’s office attempts to combat the issue of students’ decreased mobility
“If you have frequent doctor’s appointments for physical therapy, or a follow-up from some kind of surgery, you might request a parking permit,” she said. “You would have to go through handicap parking, whether it’s temporary or permanent. If your doctor says you can only walk 100 yards, then you would be eligible for a spot closer to campus.”
Though traveling long distances is a major problem for students with temporary disabilities, many of the problems they encounter limit their ability to engage in average daily tasks.
“Getting food was very hard,” the junior said. “You have to go either with a bag or a friend. Showering was a little hard because we have a common bathroom, and you can’t just easily get over there. ”
A temporarily disabled student’s academic life can be more or less negatively impacted depending on the nature of his or her injury. Those who have lost the ability to write can receive a variety of accommodations.
“Some people come in for note takers because they have a temporary condition, like breaking their wrist or something like that,” Durrett said. If a student has the proper medical documentation and is approved to have a note taker, he or she will receive notes for any class that he or she takes.
“We also have scribes, people who actually write for students who have, say, a dislocated shoulder or some kind of wrist injury,” Durrett said. “Students can come to my office and take their exams with the aid of these scribes.” Although students also have the option of typing up exams on a computer in Durrett’s office if typing is easier for them, students who are unable to both write and type can dictate all of their answers on an exam to a scribe who will write their test for them.