I asked two of my friends about their experience with having me, a physically disabled student, in class with them and if it has been any different of an experience than having anyone else in class.
Alexi Mchugh (sophomore, studying Public Health, South Carolina Honors College)Grace Zimmermann (sophomore, studying French, South Carolina Honors College)
How has your classroom experience changed when there is a student with a physical disability?
Alexi: There’s no change. I’ve got friends with disabilities in my classes and you see the accommodations the professor makes for those students, but that’s it.
Grace: It’s not really different. I see a regular, if not more sassy (referring to me, Julia Rodes), individual and to me, being in a wheelchair does not affect someone’s ability to learn or be kind.
Do you think a student with a physical disability is able to be socially successful at USC?
Alexi: Oh, absolutely. My friends have had no trouble having fun, hanging out, becoming popular or any of it. They’ve had just as much fun in the dorms as I have.
Grace: Yes, I definitely think they can. I think it may be more difficult to navigate campus, but being limited physically does not mean you are in any way limited socially.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for incoming students with disabilities?
Alexi: Student Disability Services is a great program; the people there are very friendly and helpful. They’re the best thing to utilize on campus to get notes or record lectures or really just anything you need to do well in classes. The office has some really great people.
Grace: My suggestion is to be kind. People can be nervous/not know how to behave around individuals who have physical disabilities. They do not want to offend and some do not know the appropriate response, so be patient with them. They’ll figure it out.