I have this recurring nightmare. It's the first day of a new semester, and I'm nearing the end of my program and have a couple of really important psych classes.
I head to one in a building that's not very accessible -- I have to enter from the loading dock, take a freight elevator to the main floor, then get on a different elevator that actually goes to the level my class is on. The route from my dorm to my class is almost 30 minutes long, though if I was on two feet instead of four wheels, it would be 10.
Already pressed for time, I get off the elevator and make my way down the soft-carpeted hallway -- which is like walking through deep sand with weights on your ankles -- and keep my eyes on the room numbers. 101...103...105...where's 107? Then I spot it.
A flight of three steps, with one classroom at the bottom. 107. My senior seminar class. I sit at the top, anxiously trying to get my professor's attention, but he walks to the door and shuts it as if he doesn't see me. Having had classes with him before and knowing how seriously he takes attendance, my anxiety is through the roof.
Panicking and sweating, I head to the Dean of Students' office, where I'm told it was my responsibility to make arrangements for access, and it was me who'd dropped the ball. I'm only one student, after all. My advisor can't be expected to cater to such specific needs. As such, I'd be accountable for the missed time, and I'd better make my way to the disability services office to get the room situation straightened out.
That nightmare is a hybrid of three or four of actual experiences I had in high school and college. I had it last night, probably in anticipation of Arwen's first day of school. I woke up grateful that she won't have to face those barriers as long as she continues to be healthy and able bodied, and angry that I did. And angry that kids with disabilities and their caregivers still do. (CONTINUED IN COMMENTS)