Issues on HFC Campus

Photo by Marcus Olah

When starting a college experience, it is the first major step for every individual into independence. Such is even truer for handicapped students. Speaking from my own personal experience, we strive for independence to prove that we are not beings meant to be sheltered. Upon entering college, we can choose our own classes, our own time schedules, in a sense we are finally the masters of our own destiny, but there are certain issues on the Henry Ford College (HFC) campus that make it difficult to grasp such freedom.

Some of the challenges are those pertaining to bathrooms. The bathroom stalls for students with power wheelchairs or walkers are inappropriately sized. Every day while on campus, I have been privy to the struggles of getting into the abovementioned stalls. It is difficult to get in, and then once in, due to inaccurate size, the door will not close, because power wheelchairs cannot fit in completely. This leaves the door open to any passersby.

Moreover, whilst in a bathroom in the Liberal Arts building (Building K), the sinks have pedals to generate water. While some in wheelchairs have the physical capability of being able to swing their legs out after moving out of their chair, hence turning the water on in the sink, others, like quadriplegics cannot. This makes the latter dependent on others to do so, creating a huge bump on the path to independence that college is supposed to offer.

Furthermore, in the Liberal Arts building, which is one of the most heavily trafficked buildings on campus, the main entrance, which utilizes a ramp on one side, has one handicapped accessible door on a different entrance. Whereas most people can enter via the main doors, people with wheelchairs or walkers have to go around to another side to go in. Additionally, if a handicapped individual were to enter like most other people, they could find difficulty opening the doors because they are heavy and require both hands; one to open the door and the other to move the chair. Such a challenge may be magnified when people have multiple materials to carry to their classes.

On campus, there is an area with flower plots and a fountain, used for both relaxation and club events. This highlights the beauty of the campus, creating a relaxing escape for students. It cannot be enjoyed by the handicapped student body due to the fact that there is no ramp for wheelchairs or walkers. This effectively creates a cut off zone for one portion of the students who go to HFC.

This is in no way saying that HFC is not handicap accessible, but that it has some problems. The HFC campus has done much to provide for handicapped students, but these issues still should be brought to light because it hinders the path to independence and for many students, this is the first step to that.

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