Wheels of misfortune, the ever so slight incline

Daniel Malgren
Editor In Chief

College, for most, is a series of uphill battles experienced primarily on the emotional and academic level. Yet there are some, who face these struggles on the physical level every day.
When walking between buildings on Pierce Puyallup’s campus, most of us do not take note of various climbs and dips that encompass various points of the college.
We walk these inclines hardly beading a sweat, but for those who must maneuver the campus in a wheelchair, the road is not as smooth as one may think.
To test the accessibility of our campus for those with disabilities I spent the entirety of one day of classes in a wheelchair.
Starting at 7:30 a.m. till 3 p.m. I navigated my walk with wheels; strapping my feet to the chair to prevent any urge to suddenly get up and walk when I accidentally rolled off the sidewalk.
My day began in The Post office, quickly learning how to navigate the chair before taking the elevator down to begin my trip to reach my 8 a.m. class.
The first elevator, located in the College Center, was spacious enough that I was able to maneuver the chair into it and successfully access the controls without much difficulty.
The CTR, being a spacious building, proved to cause no hamper to my progress until reaching the doors to exit the building.
When I arrived at the double set of doors exiting the CTR, I was thankfully assisted by a courteous gentleman who was able to open first door; however, when it came to opening the second door for myself, I found it rather difficult to maneuver the chair to the button and then make my way through the door.
By the time I exited the CTR, my arms were already beginning to feel a steady burn as I had no previous experience in a wheelchair.
At first I was grateful, for the slight downhill leading from the CTR to the Arts and Allied Health building, but I found myself speeding out of control as the chair took off at an unprecedented speed. I had to frantically exert myself more to slow down than I had to move myself forward.
Upon reaching the front of the AAH, entering the building was far simpler than exiting the CTR. The handicap buttons were located far enough from the building that I was able to maneuver with little hassle.
My class was located on the second floor, requiring the use of the elevator to reach my destination. I found the elevator less accessible, as my futile attempts at maneuvering my chair out of the elevator door resulted in bruised fingers and a bloodied knuckle.
After my class was done, I renewed my exertion of maneuvering through the elevator and exited the AHH through the back; knowing I would never be able to proceed up the front of the building due to the steep incline.
Unfortunately, taking the back way did little to improve the scenario. The back route leading through the trees contained only the slightest hint of an uphill, but in a wheelchair, you feel the exertion exponentially as your arms try and compensate for the sudden shift.
The trip to the LSC, for my 9:00 a.m. class, was the longest of my trips. The strength in my arms ebbed away in minutes while I tried to adjust to the sudden vertical shift.
By the time I reached the LSC, I had less than two minutes to reach my class. The only reason I was able to make it in time was due to people kind enough to hold the doors open for me.
My route to my final class located in the ADM offered little comfort to my arms, as the path between the LSC and CTR offered a slight incline, followed by a hill to get the ADM.
Upon reaching the ADM building I faced the same problem as I did when exiting the CTR in the morning. The door buttons were placed in such a manner that I had to angle my chair to press them. Then resulting in a mad scramble to get into a position that allow me to enter through the door before it closed.
By 11:00 a.m. I had completed my classes and made my way back to the office. By this point there was a steady flow of rain making it harder to maneuver my chair.
This problem increased exponentially when I had to go down the hill exiting the ADM building. The combined factors of the rain and downhill slope resulted in me losing control of the chair and running off the sidewalk.
Since I was doing all I could to simulate my own body being crippled, I could not do anything to get myself off the grass and back onto the sidewalk. Thankfully, one of my friends was able to lend assistance and get me back on course to the office.
While the Pierce College Puyallup campus is indeed a beautiful sight to the eye, its charming scenery does little to those who cannot navigate the premise.
Within the buildings, getting from place to place is quite enjoyable as the floors are smooth to the point where you can comfortably cruise; however, this is little comfort when getting between buildings jeopardizes any chance of getting to class in a timely manner.
For those in possession of an electric wheelchair, the layout of the campus is hardly a factor as the level of exertion would be at a minimal.
But for students who are injured in accidents and cannot afford the expense of an electric wheelchair, the campus layout is tedious and sometimes dangerous if the individual has little experience in navigating a wheelchair.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Wheels of misfortune, the ever so slight incline

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