Disability and Accessibility with GSU Student, Kayla White
Written by: Isaac Taylor
Kayla White, a multimedia communications major at Georgia Southern University, begins her Wednesdays by waking up at 5:30 a.m. for her 8:00 am. class.
White uses this block of time before class to get dressed and mentally prepare for the day.
At 7:05 a.m. she catches the bus to go to her first class.
Herein lies her first struggle of the day.
“I have a spinal tumor which they found at the age of three,” White said. “It was the size of a baseball. It hindered me from walking. I’ve been in a chair for about 15 years now.”
White is one of many disabled students at GS. Although the Student Disability Resource Center provides services to 624 students across the campus, some areas of the campus are difficult to traverse for chair reliant students.
When attempting to take the bus, White has to wait for the bus driver to lower the bus, let down the ramp, lift up the seats and safely strap her in.
If there are too many people on the bus to comfortably accommodate White’s chair, she has to wait for another bus to come and hope there will be enough space available on the next one.
“To be honest, I feel kind of bad because I always have to make them stop what they are doing just to strap me in to make sure I’m safe and everything,” White said. “If I had a choice, I wouldn’t take the bus to be honest. I would walk there.”
Georgia Southern offers a wide variety of accessibility options to disabled students.
"Our staff members work to assist students in implementing approved accommodations and to support them in their academic endeavors while here at Georgia Southern," Deborah Pérez-López, director of the Student Disability Resource Center wrote. "Eligible students are able to utilize their accommodations, with the support of our dedicated staff, which are designed to ensure equal access to the course material, content and facilities during their Georgia Southern academic career."
Multiple academic buildings on GS’s campus provide accessibility options for students.
For example, The Zach S. Henderson Library has sliding glass doors to allow an easy entrance and exit to the building. The four-story building also has an elevator that goes to all floors so that disabled students can avoid the stairs.
Also, the football stadium provides special seating arrangements for students who need wheelchairs.
The majority of the buildings on campus are accessible, but a few are frustrating to get into White said.
Getting into the Public Safety building poses a particular problem for White. The sidewalk ends prior to the building’s entrance.
“You have to find another way to get there or you have to go into the street; the Public Safety building isn’t really safe despite the name,” White said.
Overall, White is pleased with Georgia Southern’s disability options.
Different students have different needs White said.
The Student Disability Resource Center is housed on the second floor of Cone Hall and has business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
-Kayla White, mutimedia communications major at Georgia Southern University
After her classes conclude for the day, White grabs a snack and takes the bus to meet one of her friends.