By: RACHEL COLLIER
A petition to raise awareness about accessibility issues at Carleton University is currently being circulated by disabled student Nathan Bragg.
The petition that the first-year journalism student began circulating on March 20 now has over 200 signatures.
Bragg has a form of cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that affect the nervous system, often limiting muscle control and movement. He requires wheelchair accessibility and other accommodations on campus.
One of the reasons Bragg says he chose Carleton over other universities was for Carleton’s good reputation around accessibility on campus.
Carleton University’s accessibility guidelines state that “There are a variety of services, groups and committees on campus devoted to promoting accessibility and to ensuring that individuals have equitable access to services and facilities.”
Bragg had been in contact with Carleton’s housing department throughout the summer to ensure all of his needs would be met on residence. He was not expecting to have any issues when he arrived to his room in Stormont House last September, but Bragg said he quickly realized this was not the case.
“They didn’t take my accessibility needs into account,” Bragg said, “The one thing that I requested very clearly and the one thing I needed over anything else wasn’t there.”
Because Bragg cannot stand for an extended period of time, he requires a seat while showering.
“I can sit the ground, but it doesn’t really work and it isn’t effective,” Bragg said, “I was left trying to stand by holding a grab bar, but I kept falling down repeatedly.”
In addition, Stormont’s elevator has broken down repeatedly throughout the year.
David Sterritt, director of housing and conference services, said they do not have a means of controlling an elevator’s performance.
“Elevators do fail and when they do, we have a contract with an elevator repair company to get the elevator repaired as quickly as possible,” Sterritt said.
Sterritt recommended students facing issues such as those facing Bragg should contact attendant care services, whose role is to help student with disabilities in residence.
Bragg said that this response has not been sufficient and he has had to ask friends to him up stairs during frequent elevator malfunctions. “I understand fixing elevators is expensive, but at what point should saving money compromise accessibility?” he said.
One of his friends, Daniel Shalinsky, has come from a different residence multiple times to help Bragg up the stairs.
“If instances like this keep occurring not only does it set a bad precedent for the university, but it denies students…a service which they require to live in residence,” Shalinsky said, adding Bragg is an independent individual who would not ask for assistance if he did not absolutely require it.
Although Bragg has personal problems while living on residence, he said he started the petition to raise awareness for accessibility for all students on campus.
“Everyone is part of the Carleton community no matter how disabled or able bodied they are,” he said.
The petition itself states its mandate is “to create a long-term solution to the many accessibility issues in Carleton University Residence.” Housing director, Sterritt, said overall he believes Carleton University has done everything possible to uphold its reputation in regards to accessibility.
Sterritt stated there is “always” more that can be done but refused to comment any further.