Students on crutches face accessibility challenges

By Winnie Yoe, The Dartmouth Staff | 11/7/12 6:00am

Dartmouth can be a difficult place for students on crutches to navigate, especially for those who have not been on crutches before, according to students interviewed by The Dartmouth. Not all buildings are accessible, and the ones that are have accessible entrances that are far away from the main entrances.

“I have been on crutches in many different places, but being on crutches at Dartmouth is definitely the worst," Marina Moschitto ’14 said.

“The campus lifestyle is not suitable for crutches whatsoever," Moschitto said. "It's like having all of your personal independence and free taken away from you. You’re forced to rely on others because you can’t carry things, open doors, walk quickly, et cetera, especially at Dartmouth where people are always in a hurry to get to the next place."

While students and staff are helpful to students on crutches, many students said they do not wish to rely on others all the time. Getting food presents a challenge for students on crutches. Some students have creatively attached the bottom of a plastic bottle to their crutches to serve as a cup holder.

This term, the Class of 1953 Commons introduced EZ trays, a tray specially designed with straps for students on crutches to use in dining facilities. The trays were designed byEdward Fitzgibbons, a student at Middlebury College.

Students on crutches can request courtesy rides from Safety and Security. While some schools have golf cart services for students with physical disabilities, since the town of Hanover owns the streets, golf carts would have to be modified in order to be used on the streets here.

While physical tasks are challenging for students on crutches, ultimately it is the culture at Dartmouth that affect students most, students said.

“Before it was a physical thing — carrying food , sleeping with a cast in bed, standing up quickly," Anna Pasternak '14 said. "Now it is culture — everyone is overwhelmed and makes themselves so busy, but I can’t. Hence I feel very disconnected."

Winnie Yoe, The Dartmouth Staff