As a result of misfortune, I am disabled. I was not born missing my left eye, nor was I brought into this world with a left hand that does not function, but life’s unforeseeable occurrences have subjected me to some of the cruelest treatment.
From being ignored, skipped, and verbally insulted while trying to process my vocational rehabilitation voucher at the campus bookstore, the maltreatment goes on and on. Disabled students seem to be viewed more as lepers from the Bible rather than ordinary individuals like anyone else.
I’ve had college professors refuse to interpret my ACCESS services accommodation letters, which allow me legally binding accommodations such as extended time on tests, use of a digital recorder and note-taking assistance. Despite the obviousness that I was having difficulties in class while exerting unyielding effort, they did not budge.
For those who have been in my shoes and have been denied accommodations despite obvious disabilities, do not make the same mistake I did by staying quiet and continuing on with the completion of course materials.
Disabled students should not be shocked or surprised by maltreatment, because we do not have an elected advocate in the Student Government Association.
As a result, many of my peers’ complaints have landed on deaf ears—no offense intended to students with hearing difficulties.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the plethora of students, professors, and administrators that go above and beyond to display the best characters that humanity has to offer. Many of them have adopted these principles not for reward or credit, but because it is simply in their kind nature.
However, those who are carrying out acts of maltreatment by depriving students of needed accommodations can’t be ignored.
The negative experiences I have endured are preparing me for the world in one aspect—by toughening me up for the type of treatment I can expect.
Occasionally, a kind spirit will assist me by opening a door, or with even entering a building or classroom as some facilities are not handicap friendly. At times, when the elevator at the metro mover station is not working, someone assists me with using the stairs.
Ironically, the able-bodied community has a variety of commuting options such as rental scooters and rental bicycles. On the other hand, disabled individuals, like myself, have it hard.
With no type of auxiliary transportation assistance, like an intercampus or campus-to-campus trolley, one has to wonder whether the disabled community is even considered at times.
It is sad to say, but these practices will continue because they have become social norms around all the Miami Dade College campuses. For real change to occur, students, professors and administrators will have to agree that these transgressions exist.
Admittedly, there is a lot of blame to go around, because there are some students that exploit their disabilities, thus contaminating the well for the ones deserving human empathy. Yet, I plead that before you throw the baby out with the bath water, please examine the context of individual cases. In other words, in an attempt to reject the unfavorable, we can’t make the mistake of taking it out on the favorable too.
It is crucial to acknowledge the very real instances of maltreatment that exist toward members of the disabled community. If we ever want things to change, then we must speak out and show others the reality and gravity of the issue at hand.