New permit policy provokes criticism, calls for increased access for students with disabilities

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Attending a large university is challenging. Making it to campus from an off-campus home or apartment, getting from class to class in the set 10 or 15 minutes and finding a place to park that’s not across town is hard, but for students with disabilities, a lack of access and appropriate accommodations can make these everyday tasks impossible. 

Students with disabilities at UT are struggling, physically and mentally, to navigate their campus. Tedious paperwork, long waits and lack of information often hinder students who need accommodations to succeed academically and protect their physical and mental health. 

However, even when students receive accommodations, they are often not enough. 

The discussion about accessibility and inclusivity on campus recently came to a head this past summer, when Parking and Transportation Services created the D+ parking permit after the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration found the former D parking spaces were not compliant with the Texas Accessibility standards. 

Rather than launch a construction project to render the parking spots compliant or create new spots, UT created the D+ permit, a non-ADA compliant label. The new D+ spots — though unchanged in every respect — are reserved exclusively for students with disabilities, but they come with a hefty $300 charge: an effective price tag on accessibility. 

Students felt as though UT was cashing in on their disability and adding to a long history of failing those most in need of assistance.

In this forum, English senior Allyson Stephens describes her experience attending UT while managing Type 1 diabetes and her difficulties obtaining accommodations for her disability. 

Ivy Hester, a speech and language pathology junior, details similar trials in navigating the accommodations process. She argues that students with disabilities are denied mobility and equal treatment within academic spaces, urging the University to fulfill its promise to all students. 

As always, if you have any thoughts on this topic or any other, please feel free to reach out to us at thedailytexanforum@gmail.com.