Daily Egyptian

Wheelchairs and worrisome weather

Sidewalks and snow — transportation barriers wheelchairs users deal with in the winter — don't mix. Carrie Mulderink, a graduate student in communication studies from Chicago, crosses the West Grand Avenue railroad tracks in a motorized wheelchair on her way to class Monday morning. It takes her about 30 minutes to get from her apartment on West Grand Avenue to Morris Library. “I feel that it’s largely unsafe for people with disabilities to cross a railroad that is often uncleared of snow and ice,” Mulderink said. She said she often gets stuck on the tracks, even if there is no snow. When this happens, Mulderink said she usually has to wait for someone to come find and help her. In the past, she said people have approached her thinking her wheelchair on the tracks was a suicide attempt, so now when she can’t get her chair over the tracks, she has to yell for help. Each time she leaves her apartment, Mulderink said she has to consider the safety and potential consequences of traveling to and on campus. Last year, she said she missed about a week of classes because of winter weather conditions. However, she said her teachers are typically accommodating of her situation. “I’m always trying to give more attention to accessibility issues,” Mulderink said. “It’s something that should be talked about more. But it isn’t.” - Feb. 15, 2016, Carbondale, Ill. Photo by Aidan Osborne | @aidanosborne —Caption by Anna Spoerre | @annaspoerre

By Anna Spoerre, @annaspoerre

Sidewalks and snow — transportation barriers wheelchairs users deal with in the winter — don’t mix. 

Carrie Mulderink, a graduate student in communication studies from Chicago, crosses the West Grand Avenue railroad tracks in a motorized wheelchair on her way to class Monday morning. It takes her about 30 minutes to get from her apartment on West Grand Avenue to Morris Library.

“I feel that it’s largely unsafe for people with disabilities to cross a railroad that is often uncleared of snow and ice,” Mulderink said.  

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Mulderink said she often gets stuck on the tracks, even if there is no snow. When this happens, she said she usually has to wait for someone to come find and help her.

In the past, she said people have approached her thinking her wheelchair on the tracks was a suicide attempt, so now when she can’t get her chair over the tracks, she has to yell for help.

Each time she leaves her apartment, Mulderink said she has to consider the safety and potential consequences of traveling to and on campus.

Last year, she said she missed about a week of classes because of winter weather conditions. However, she said her teachers are typically accommodating of her situation.

“I’m always trying to give more attention to accessibility issues,” Mulderink said. “It’s something that should be talked about more. But it isn’t.”

Anna Spoerre can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.

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