How Do I Talk to My School About Improving Accessibility?

May 11, 2019

Anonymous asks, quote:

How do I go about telling my high school that the little bit of accessibility they have isn’t fucking good enough? Like, you need someone to be at the bottom of the elevator to open the door for you or you’re stuck there until someone comes. And that’s only one example. I’m tired of this bullshit of teachers insisting I’m not really in pain, the lack of accessibility, etc.

end quote.

Step one is get a diagnosis. You will need one in order to move the conversation forward.

Step two is to get an IEP or Individualized Education Program. This is an agreement between you, your parents/legal guardian, and the school that dictates what the school is going to do to make sure you have equal access to the same quality of education that the other students have. Usually, IEPs are used for students with cognitive or learning disabilities, and cover things like alternative educational materials, variations in how a test is delivered, etc. However, IEPs are not limited to educational materials. They also cover modifications that make it easier for student to move throughout a school. For example, letting a student in a wheelchair leave a few minutes early in order to not have to navigate a large crowd between classes.

An IEP is a legal document. Meaning, once you are qualified to receive an IEP (i.e. , you have a diagnosis) teachers won’t (legally) be able to refuse you access to any of the accommodations that are listed in it (e.g., a key to the elevator so you can open the door yourself).

Without a diagnosis, it’s going to be very difficult to prove that you qualify for an IEP. So, I would focus on that first. Then, meet with your school.