Last updated on November 13, 2019
MS: Welcome back to another episode of Yo, is this accessible? I’m Matt
MD: I’m Matt
MS: And on this episode, our podcast member, Carter Todd interviewed his friend, Ryan Scanlan about accessibility at SJU
CT: Yea guys, so I got the opportunity to interview a good friend of mine, Ryan Scanlan. He’s been on a scooter all semester long. We got to a lot of different topics, we got to talk about Saint Joe’s and just getting around as a whole and got to hear his thoughts on dealing with the University and making the most out of his situation. So, hope you guys enjoy the interview.
CT: Alright so we now move on to our interview portion of this episode where we have a Saint Joe’s Junior, he’s studying Finance and Economics, Ryan Scanlan, Ryan welcome to the show
RS: Hey thanks for having me
CT: You’ve been in a boot and for most of the semester been in a scooter navigating around campus, is that correct?
CT: And how long were you navigating campus in that scooter?
RS: I was in the scooter for six weeks starting at the beginning of February
CT: Okay, so pretty decent amount of time you had to kind of get used to it, you know wasn’t just a couple weeks long thing, you had to adjust your paths getting around campus and stuff I’d imagine
RS: Oh for sure definitely altered my paths completely and saw different people on my routes and stuff
CT: So when you first got on the scooter, what kind of issues did you encounter on a regular basis that you had to adjust for?
RS: Around campus, definitely the biggest issue was my class in the second floor Barbelin, there’s no elevator there, I had to talk to my professor about meeting outside of class and making up for me completely missing class when I had the scooter. I talked to disability services to see if they could move the class and they were helpful, but the class wasn’t moved.
CT: Okay, so you just basically had to go to class at a different time, essentially?
RS: Yeah, I just met with the professor in office hours, for those six weeks. It was a Tuesday/Thursday class so we’d meet twice a week and I just had to meet with him twice a week instead in office hours
CT: So did you get an explanation as to why you weren’t able to have the class moved, or anything like that?
RS: As far as I know, the process was started, and they just couldn’t find a classroom because I guess they had to find another classroom to get my class into an accessible building and I guess the process just never happened, I didn’t really get an update, I knew they started it and there was no completion of it.
CT: OK, so other than just not being able to get to one of your classes, was there anything else that you hadn’t really thought of that would be an issue that ended up being more of an obstacle for you than you anticipated?
RS: As far as going around campus, I just really had to change my routes, I had to utilize public safety a lot to get around, because I have a lot of classes in Mandeville, and to get to the library or Campion, I’d need to call public safety to give me a ride a short distance, or I’d scoot up City Ave but then I eventually figured out the route going around Bellarmine up the wheelchair route by Gompers, just kind of a roundabout way of getting where I needed to go, but it worked out.
CT: So I remember, in the past I used to work for the TSC on campus and we’d move computer carts around campus all the time and I just remember we’d do a lot of – we’d go from the Science Center to Merion and back and we’d take the most convoluted routes to go back and forth between different buildings, you’d pass buildings that you wouldn’t even consider on the way to point A to point B
CT: Was there any time you were surprised by something that Saint Joes already had in place in preparation for someone in your situation?…you said you were inconvenienced by having to meet your teacher in office hours and having to take weird routes/public safety help you out. Was there a time that something was already in place to help you?
RS: Yeah, I guess. My best answer to that is the ramp by Bellarmine because as far as I know that was not there 5-10 years ago and without that it would be difficult to go anywhere. Also, public safety was a nice thing I could use because getting to and from class/between buildings..if you don’t have friends who have cars, without public safety you would be screwed and would have to plan ahead to get where you are going.
CT: Do you live on campus…the Overbrook area or Manayunk?
RS: The Overbrook area. The Point Apartments near the train station.
CT: Well, you don’t have to get too specific. This is going on the Internet. So, do you have someone to drive you around?
RS: Luckily, I had really helpful friends that had cars and could give me rides and the scooter didn’t let me walk with two feet or stand, so O had to hop around. They were very helpful with getting it into the trunk and getting it out of the trunk and dropping me off closer to class. So, if I did not have friends that were so helpful, it definitely would have been a lot tougher to get around for sure.
CT: Well, shout out to Ryan’s friends for all of those listening. Out of curiosity, as far the Point goes, how would rate their accessibility offerings to someone who can’t get around on two feet?
RS: The elevator was basically all I needed. I didn’t have trouble getting around the Point. In the room, small things like navigating a small kitchen is harder with a scooter. I was lacking on household contributions. My roommates had to help out with laundry and dishes. I was holding them back, I guess. Just navigating like getting in and out of the shower was hard. The little step is hard when you are hopping around. I realized it is dangerous hopping around with one foot on that slippery area. That was also tough to navigate.
CT: On the topic of bathrooms, when you have to use the bathroom at Saint Joe’s, how would you rate that accessibility level of getting out of the bathroom on campus?
RS: I definitely realized the small bump on the bottom of the door, I was aware of those. People using the wheelchair stall because they want more space was an issue. Besides that, it was fine. The bathrooms are spacious enough.
CT: So, there were times you would encounter someone in the accessibility bathroom? Would you just go to a different bathroom?
RS: Yeah, different bathroom. That was not that much of an issue.
CT: Yeah your right, it’s definitely something different to see the convenience of little extra space in the bathroom but you don’t really consider it until you have only one available stall. Then in terms of experience in the last six weeks, if you had a family member that could only get around in a wheelchair in a more permanent condition would you want them to come to St. Joe’s? Is there a more accessible university?
RS: I think there are probably more accessible universities. I do not think it has been a priority for St. Joe’s. Consider the vast number of amble body walking people compared to wheelchair people. I guess it’s understandable, looking at pure number points but I can not say that I would recommend St. Joe’s for someone in a wheelchair. The little things you don’t even notice like uneven sidewalks or elevation and this can make real tough if you are on wheels and navigating that way. It can also be real dangerous, if your not careful. St. Joe’s can definitely do a better job, Barbelin could have a elevator, less steps but I do not know if other colleges levels of accessibility either so I can’t say, it would better to go to this school or that school because I didn’t look into it that much. I will say having Public Safety running all the time and calling them for a ride is a really nice asset the school provides.
CT: In terms of experience, were there times when you were on campus and trying to meet a group, class, eat but then shit I can not make it.
RS: One mandatory fraternity event in Barbelin event second floor. I ended up going and I had my friends with me holding my scooter. I hopped on the steps on one foot, I do not recommend it because it highly dangerous because you get sweaty and it’s not fun. Especially from the people that were watching me it can be really embarrassing because people are really looking at you more. That was one time, when it was tough to get around because you’re aware that there are more eyes on you. Other times I was late or had to plan ahead. If I have to call public safety, you have to give them 30-40 minutes, it could be earlier but you have to be more prepared for the day and think of where your going more (ahead). I have a 8 a.m. class and then a huge gap in between my next class Tuesday/ Thursdays. Normally, I would go get something to eat then head to library and hang out but I found myself staying in the building more. It was a hassle to go all the way down the hallway, get into the elevator, go down then go another 10-15 minutes to go somewhere. Now, I am packing snacks and just staying in the same building for 2 or 3 hours. Little things like that cause your schedule shifts and you know your shifting it but it kinds of become the new normal.
CT: What I was going to ask you before, was kind of on the same tune as that. Obviously, there are inconveniences like you mentioned like personal, and it doesn’t make sense for you to put back and forth the effort. You know you have to be on the scooter and that is a lot of effort for you. Would you say on your time on the scooter, there were a lot of times like you were a burden because you had to have so many extra accommodations made for you. We have a lot of buildings that are suppose to make more accessible entrances and exits. The building is handicapped accessible but only way to do so is to come in the back door where the dumpster is. Things in that nature, would you say a lot of the accessible stuff that is already in place is designed to have you enter and exit building the same way as if you were walking around on your own two feet.
I definitely had to find new routes. I found elevators I didn’t know existed. The handicap buttons that open up the doors for you, I know which ones work and don’t work on campus. I definitely took different routes. I would go in Bellarmine, I’d have to go through the basement on a ramp and take an elevator upstairs. And the elevator is really slow, so I’d have to plan ahead for class. I started seeing the people who work in the pod and seeing them on a daily basis and I started saying hi to them and be able to recognize part of my day. It was also kind of tough because the career fair was right after I got injured, I tried to use it as a talking point as much as possible. So i had to navigate the career fair on a scooter, interviews on a scooter. Getting around was tough if i’m off campus and everything.
CT: Just real quickly before we go, in terms of St. Joes, if you had to rate it on a scale of 1-10, 1 being everything is a staircase and a bumpy walkway to 10 being seamless transition from scooter to walking… what would you rate St. Joes in that level of accessibility?
RS: I guess I would give it a 7, I think i’m a big believer in the situation is what you make it. As far as my injury level, I knew it was temporary and i kinda just accepted the fact and made it my new normal. I tried not to let it bother me, which I don’t think it did very much. But definitely if you’re in a permanent situation where you are in a wheel device, you would probably feel the toll more. I think it really just depends on the mindset a lot more than you think. Having friends around definitely helps. St. Joes does the best they can. You cant really change the elevation of the land where you are, so that’s always gonna be tough. The infrastructure and sidewalks, I don’t think St. Joe’s controls .. that’s on the city. SO as far as St. Joes, in terms of their control, I think they do as best as they can. They could have an elevator in Barbelin. But then again how many wheel chaired people do you see on campus? Is it worth it? Different discussion but 7/10 I would say.
Thanks so much for your time, great to see you moving on two feet now. Hopefully you get out of that boot soon.
Thanks for having me Carter.