Students stress over access van service

UW&rsquo;s AccessAbility Services has caused some stress for disabled students after failing to provide their Student Access Vans (SAVs) in the spring term and the beginning of fall term.&nbsp;</p>

In an email sent to Imprint,  a former employee of AccessAbility Services mentioned that their SAVs would not be available until this coming October, and how they failed to warn students about the lack of this service. 

“Many of the students have taken the service for years and plan to live in residence to continue to access this service knowing that the public transit system is not adequate for their needs,” wrote the former employee. “It is nearly impossible to attend their classes without this.”

However, this is not the case according to Amanda Annarilli, AccessAbility Services’ newly appointed student relations co-ordinator. Annarilli explained that there must have been some miscommunication with some students who inquired about the SAVs. 

Instead of only having SAVs  available October onwards, Annarilli claims that they are merely getting a new van and that their old ones are still in use for the time being. 

But as of publication, the SAVs have still not been in service this term for students who need them. 

“We haven’t started running it for the term because we have to train our drivers,” said Annarilli. 

According to Annarilli, once this driving training session is complete, they will be able to accommodate students who need this service. The driving training session took place Sept. 22. 

When asked why SAVs have not been historically available during spring term, Annarilli said this was most likely due to a lack of demand for it.

However, Norman Masanga, a mathematics student, disagrees. 

For several weeks during the spring term, Masanga was diagnosed with a Weber C fracture in his ankle, which resulted in him needing an SAV to transport him to various buildings on campus. 

When he called the front desk line of AccessAbility Services, he was told that such a service could not be provided in the summertime. 

“[I found] that dumb, because I’m in co-op and I have to be in school in the summertime —  that’s how my stream works,” said Masanga. 

Disappointed and discouraged from this, Masanga relied on the GRT bus services, his crutches, and his walking boot for the next several weeks to commute to and from campus. 

“Anyone who’s used crutches before knows it’s a lot of strain in your arms and it’s hard to do for a long time,” said Masanga.

However,  according to Annarilli, there are other provided options that students like Masanga could have taken when there was no SAV. 

 “If a student is registered with us and very obviously has a need, we would definitely  help somehow,” said Annarilli. 

One way that AccessAbility Services helps such students is by co-ordinating with the United Taxi service, which essentially replaces the SAV when it is not present.

When asked about this lack of communication between the students and the SAV service, Annarilli believes that the recent turnover staff could have possibly been the cause.

“We’re not trying to make this hard for students, but obviously we do need some time to train new staff every term…. Hopefully we’ll get that stuff sorted out quickly,” said Annarilli. 

Annarilli also hopes that students who need such services like the SAV would be able to voice their opinions to AccessAbility Services so that they can try as hard as possible to accommodate them. This way there is a possibility for students to have access to this van during the spring term. 

“We don’t want students to think that we’re not here to help them because we definitely are,” said Annarilli. 


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