Elevators pose problems for students with disabilities

By | February 26, 2013 | Arts & Entertainment (3)
There are many areas on campus that journalism student Matthew Jimenez can't access due to faulty elevators.

There are some areas on campus that journalism student Matthew Jimenez can’t access due to faulty elevators.

Journalism student Matthew Jimenez, on occasion, struggles to reach the second floor of the McKee Fisk Building to get to his classes because of faulty handicap buttons and elevators that are not always in service.

Jimenez is in a wheelchair, and the only way to get to the second floor is by elevator. Every day, he fears not being able to get to class on time.

“Just last week, I missed one of my classes because the elevator was broken, and last semester I had a lot of problems at McKee Fisk because the elevator was broken half the semester,” Jimenez said.

If a problem occurs, Jimenez has to call for assistance, which can put him even more behind schedule.

“Sometimes I have to call Plant Operations on campus, and they’ll call somebody to fix the door or elevator, but sometimes that can take a while, or I just wait around and see who is available to help me out,” Jimenez said.

He feels Fresno State does not take into consideration students in wheelchairs, as the elevators are often out of service.

Disability Management Specialist Jeanette Johnson said there are roughly 600 students registered in the Services for Students with Disabilities program per academic year. Of those students, about 100 have mobility impairments or other conditions that may limit their ability to use the stairs.

Johnson said when the elevators or buttons do not work, students in wheelchairs must call the disability office.

“We contact Facilities Management and place a work order and keep the student up to date on the status of the work order,” Johnson said. “If it is requested by the student, we contact his or her instructor, notifying them of the situation and why the student did not attend class that day.”

Johnson said facilities management only receives two to three calls per semester from students with disabilities regarding broken handicap or not-in-service buttons.

The mission of the Students with Disabilities program is to promote opportunities for students with disabilities to achieve their academic, cultural and social interests by ensuring that campus programs, activities and facilities are accessible.

“When I call, they usually take 20 minutes or more because they always seem to be busy,” Jimenez said. “Sometimes I just get frustrated and tired of waiting, so I just head back to my dorm.”

Jimenez said he feels his grades have dropped in the past because of not being able to attend classes on the second floor.

Program director Janice Brown said additional assistance is available for specific accommodations to best serve the students in the program.

Jimenez said it frustrates him and wished Fresno State was more accessible and would more funding to provide better services for students in his situation because he pays tuition and other fees and does not feel enough is going toward him.

Other students on campus can help those with disabilities by calling the Services for Students with Disabilities office or going through the website and making a report through the accessibility link on the website.

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