“But you can’t expect it for all doors,” he said.
On one Friday, Jones sat with friends in the Graduate Life Center Plaza, drinking a peach smoothie from Owens. He started up the hill past Squires Student Center but a truck on the path stopped him in his tracks. On this occasion, he evaluated the path and saw that he could still take the path in his wheelchair.
This is a normal occurrence for Jones, as the biggest challenge for him is the unpredictability of the campus — sometimes vehicles on the path or construction will completely prohibit him from taking his normal route and he has to find another way to class.
He can get from Hahn Hall North to Squires in seven to 10 minutes, but if his route is blocked by construction, it can throw that off considerably.
The record-breaking winter Blacksburg experienced this year occasionally left Jones without a way to class. One time he even got stuck on ice, and someone had to help him out.
SSD’s temporary location in Kent Square made the winter harder for Jones.
“I called the SSD office and said, ‘So, are the sidewalks cleared?’” he explained. “They said, ‘I’m not sure, since we’re off-campus.’
“It’d be nice if they had a system to gauge sidewalks,” Jones said, adding that he makes sure to discuss with all professors the possibility of missing class during bad weather.
Angle agreed that bad weather is “particularly difficult” when it came to maintenance. She said maintenance staff tries to clear the busiest access points and then bases other decisions off the students’ schedules.
SSD will move into the future Academic and Student Affairs building behind McBryde Hall when it’s completed in 2012.
The most common accommodation for students is for tests. SSD will send official accommodation letters to professors to allow for extended test-taking times or for tests to be taken in a different room or with a special desk.
In addition to requesting a special desk, Jones uses the office to extend his test-taking time, because it takes him so long to write.
At first, SSD also found students in Jones’ classes to take notes for him but it was “kind of a hassle” to pick the notes up from the office. Now he can write quickly enough to take notes on his own.
SSD can also help relocate student’s classes to buildings that are accessible. Once a student’s courses are chosen, any classes that aren’t accessible are moved.
Jones recalls one time when a professor wasn’t aware why his class moved from Whittemore Hall and tried to move it back. Jones had to talk to him about his disability and explain the move. But usually, Jones said the instructors are aware and accommodating.
Jones and his friends had signed a lease in Terrace View when he had his accident, and he still wanted to live off campus.
“I checked it out, and there were no curb cuts,” he said. “I asked, ‘How do I get up on the sidewalk?”
The apartment complex paid to install a ramp from the parking lot, widened doors and installed a passcode device on his door since he can’t turn locks.
As for downtown, the 22-year-old Jones says the Cellar and Sharkey’s are fairly accessible bars, and he added that the bouncers at Hokie House usually help him up the handful of steps.
“But obviously, I’ve never been to Top of the Stairs,” he said with a laugh.
Accessibility would have been more of a factor for Jones had he come into college with his disability. Knowing what he knows now about Tech, “I would’ve still come regardless.”
SSD has worked with 72 families and prospective students in the 2008-09 year who had questions about Tech’s accessibility. The university also created College Bound, a summer program where high school students with disabilities and their parents can spend time on Tech’s campus and experience the more independent lifestyle a college student would have.