Wheelchairs and storms don’t mix

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By PAULA CHRISTINE SCHULER

sac-ranger@alamo.edu 

On Oct. 26, a heavy thunderstorm sent students trotting, hopping and ducking between buildings.

The library was full of warm bodies seeking shelter, but just outside at the drop-off point nearest disability support services about 3 inches of deep water and pouring rain proved too much to manage with a wheelchair.

DSS assistant Lolly Espinoza said a student she did not wish to identify called the office to report her challenge during the worst part of the storm.

Fifteen minutes after the call, VIAtrans driver Jerry Crandall got soaked through shoes and shirt while assisting liberal arts sophomore Charlie Shivley, who uses a wheelchair, with boarding.

The VIAtrans is a public transportation service that can be used by anyone with disabilities seeking access to events or classes on campus. About 15 students registered with the office of disability services use VIAtrans regularly.

The VIAtrans drop-off point nearest the new DSS quarters on the first floor of Moody Learning Center is at the main second floor entrance on the east side of the building in parking Lot 16.

Shivley is usually accompanied by his wife, Sherrie Shivley, and they both said they have consistent problems with the new location.

At least four to five times weekly, she said they arrive to find the drop-off point blocked by cones, construction materials or drivers.

She said she asks people to move their vehicles, but they do not always make room.

Charlie Shivley said, “They (faculty) get mad because we are not in class or late.”

He said consistent delays accessing the drop-off point in good weather frustrate him so much he now chooses to arrive at 6:30 a.m. and wait for buildings to open.

Shivley said he prefers the old DSS location on the first floor of Chance Academic Center because it had a broad doorway, open view and short, level distance between the doorway and VIAtrans drop-off point in Lot 19.

Limited shelter is available for those who must wait in wheelchairs at Moody. To access the VIA trans, students must pass through concrete pilings, yet another hurdle for wheelchairs. Other students have difficulty maneuvering stairways to the drop-off that have been overgrown with ivy and often littered.

TV broadcasting sophomore Anthony Cavallini said he does not use VIAtrans for access to campus because he has other transportation resources.

Access to the VIAtrans drop-off point near the new DSS office doesn’t affect him, and he doesn’t mind the relocation.

“Things are bigger now, more space I noticed,” he said. “I mean we’ve got to have change at one point.”

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