What Does Accessibility Mean to You? Three Scotties Tell Their Stories in Recognition of Disability Awareness Week
Learn from these Scottie Stories
A future college student ponders many important questions during their college search process.
What scholarships can I qualify for?
Does the college have my major of interest?
How easily will I find my friend group on this campus?
Will I be homesick?
Most of us at one time also wondered “Is this campus community one I will feel welcomed to be a part of?” In Admission, we often find that, though a prospective student doesn’t necessarily ask this question right away, in the end them feeling the warmth of a welcoming, accepting campus community is very important in their college decision.
But what if your “Is this campus community one I will feel welcomed to be a part of” question comes from the perspective of a student with a disability?
Will I be able to keep up in a college class and will my notes make sense?
What if I need more time on my exam?
Will I be allowed to record a lecture?
What if my diet is a bit different?
Just as there is no single way to teach, there is no single way that people learn. Agnes Scott recognizes this, along with the fact that a “welcoming campus community” may mean different things to different individuals depending on their life circumstances. We work tirelessly throughout campus to improve access for all students and to ensure that the sense of welcome is ever-present.
Our Office of Accessible Education (OAE) works with the campus community to help create an inclusive environment for students with disabilities. Types of accommodations and services offered through the OAE can include student note-taking programs, extra time on quizzes, tests or exams, assistive software to aid in reading and organizing materials/texts, and a variety of assistive equipment for students with hearing, mobility or visual impairments, among other things.
During the week of Monday, Oct. 14, through Saturday, Oct. 19, the OAE and student organization A.C.C.E.S.S. will host Disability Awareness Week, a series of events aimed at educating the Agnes Scott College community about the wide variety of disabilities, bringing awareness to the barriers faced by many.
In recognition of this awareness campaign, and in solidarity with the many college students who live (and thrive) with a disability, we’ve partnered with the OAE to include the accessibility stories of three brave Scotties this month. If your college search process involves looking at your top colleges through the lens of a student with a disability, may their words here give you hope and the motivation you need to persevere – you, too, belong here.
Thank you for sharing your stories with us, Scotties, and we are proud to have you as members of the Agnes Scott community!
What Does Accessibility Mean to You?
By Alder Beck ’22
Hometown: Kennesaw, Georgia
Intended Major: English-Creative Writing
For the longest time, accessibility has been a crucial part of my education. As someone who is open about having a multitude of vision disorders, ADHD, and anxiety disorders (among other things), I require accommodations to be able to keep up in class work and thrive in an academic environment. This includes things such as needing larger font, extra time on tests and assignments, using fidgets and gum in the classroom to concentrate, etc. Without these, I am unable to succeed.
The Agnes Scott College campus does a good job with reaching out to students and making sure they have everything they need. I find the staff to be diligent and compassionate toward our needs, and dedicated to making sure that we can thrive in this environment.
This grants me a sense of community at this college, and I hope this continues as I slowly ascend toward graduation.
Outside the Agnes Scott bubble, a lot of people don’t seem to realize how important accessibility is for both a person’s achievement and self-esteem. I have been in environments which have been very negative toward other people’s differences, be it because of disorder/disability or otherwise. I am glad this mentality has not spread to Agnes Scott, and hope to improve the environment and spread my pride. I will do what I can to help out my Scottie Siblings when it comes to daily tussles and obstacles, and I will lend an ear to any possible solutions and aid in getting them through it.
When it comes to my status as a neurodivergent individual, I try to look at things more positively; I feel that my disorders have caused me a good bit of trouble, but they also help me in a variety of ways. I am able to be more intensely involved with class work, strive toward my goals, and shoot for high marks. With the additional aid of my accommodations, I feel comfortable in class, participate actively in lectures, and complete my work on time and with pride. If any obstacles occur in my path to success, I make sure to inform my professors and find solutions to the problem.
I share my experience through my passion for writing of which I am working to get more neurodivergent positivity into the mainstream with underrepresented individuals. I am looking for places to publish my work, but in the meantime I am honing my creative talents to try and help create a better environment for everyone to feel accepted. I feel that Agnes Scott has helped me to be able to develop these necessary skills, and I hope to contribute to the legacy of published Agnes graduates in future years.
By Alex Fallon ‘20
Hometown: Marietta, Georgia
Major: English Literature
Accessibility is the celebration of disabled bodies.
The celebration of the different: different states of embodiment, different perspectives of the world, different ways that our bodies exist in the world. Without access, these states of embodiment, perspectives, and ways of existence would be forever silenced, their narratives unpublished and unread.
The loss of these stories is unfathomable because, when disabled bodies are granted access into society, through elevators, wheelchair ramps, closed captions, elimination of fluorescent lighting, or the millions of other types of accessibility, the world thrives.
Accessibility is the key to a gate you built years ago. However, though we haven’t been let through this obstacle until recently, and even then not fully, we were not waiting for your permission to begin our lives. We created community, defined innovation, and wrote our own stories into existence on our side of the gate.
We used the scraps you had thrown over the gate to fashion success on our own terms. We have redefined childlike wonder, imagining a world most of you have never allowed yourself to even theorize. Knowingly or not, you have been sharing your world with us all along.
Accessibility is just an offer to share ours.
Letting us into your workplaces, schools, homes, and lives is a privilege we are extending to you. You’ve never met willpower, creativity, or compassion until you’ve met us. We embody these traits, we can teach you. All you have to do is let us in.
Accessibility makes the world stronger, kinder, and smarter. Come to our side and see how we make the world a better place.
By Angelica Martini ‘21
Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee
Double Major: Economics and International Relations
I have a disability. I don’t talk about being visually impaired often. Mostly because for a long time I disregarded this as a part of who I am – and I don’t blame myself for it.
Everyone (in my opinion) wants to escape a little bit of their inconvenient reality to be accepted and sustain themselves. As I’ve grown older, I’ve accepted that who I am is something I can’t escape. An essential part of my growth has been an acknowledgment of the challenges associated with this facet of my life. It is a part of my every day, and it can really discourage me at times.
However, often I am reminded of those around me who work to make these challenges manageable and help me live more comfortably in my every day.
Particularly, the Office of Accessible Education (OAE) and the greater community at Agnes Scott College welcomes me as a student by adhering to my specific needs, having low vision. This is evident through seamless processes allowing me to receive extended time on exams or access course materials in alternative formats. I am never questioned about my methods; rather, I am supported in pursuing a learning style that works best for me.
The percentage of those earning a masters or doctorate is even less, yet I still aspire to earn a Ph.D., and I accredit this ambition to the encouragement of Agnes Scott professors, faculty and, specifically, the OAE.
This support is one of the many reasons I chose Agnes Scott College as my undergraduate home because Agnes Scott continues to put the needs of its diverse group of students as the priority.