Last weekend. I attended a High School Fair with my cousin, who’s staying with me from the Caribbean. It’s a big change for him and myself as well. From him exploring different options to does the high school have full access for me to attend events or parent/teacher conferences? A parent/guardian shouldn’t have to put their needs before a child but in this case a balance is needed to be able to stay involved for future endeavors.
Before i started high school in 2004, I used to walk with some difficulty. Difficulty meaning walking slow. losing balance out of nowhere, and feeling tired after just the simplest distance of walking. It was hard for my parents to locate a elementary school that was at least partially accessible. I remember this one school that was so cool, the staff were really nice. It seemed like the perfect school but my parents were told the cafeteria was in the basement. Til’ this day i never really understood why. Today I confirmed with my father that the elevator led to stairs for access to cafeteria. It felt as if I was segregated from the other kids. The schools i attended before high school were good but I always had to settle for what accommodated my disability. It was not until I entered high school that I had to completely rely on my wheelchair because my condition progressed.
Now 14 years later, I’m facing the same obstacles as a guardian whereas my cousin is looking for a high school that captures his interests. I want the best for his future but it shouldn’t be decided on if the school is accessible for me. For a parent/guardian to have the ability to be involved, school must be visited on important occasions (parent/teacher night, medical reasons and etc). At the fair, there were a couple of programs that caught his attention. At each booth, a representative would discuss what the school has to offer. It was my business to ask if the school was accessible.There were two schools that caught my cousin’s attention, but both representatives had different reactions when I asked if the school has wheelchair access. The first guy left a great impression on me but then his response to my question about accessibility was vague. His response went a little something like “well we have an elevator.” So in my mind, I’m like why does the school define itself as partially accessible. A great presentation academically but not so much on the accessible part. Now, next a 9th grader presented her school to my cousin and he was intrigued. In my opinion, it wasn’t that great but it seemed promising. Soon after, a staff member came to rescue and gave a more detailed description of school plus the accessibility without me asking. Both presentations were handled differently as you can see.
New York City is a highly populated city and has so many living expenses. One of greatest cities should offer more school campuses that have full access for students or parents with a disability. Even college campuses are not so equipped for someone who has a disability to receive the experience needed for future employment and etc. A disabled college student would have the same cost of loans as another, so why not be offer the same access?