• Alexa

Accessibility Services & Health Services

I had my meeting with accessibility services seventeen days after handing in all of my paperwork "proving" that I have food allergies. The lady I spoke with during this intake meeting is the head of disability services. She is the nicest person and I ended up talking to her for a full hour.

We talked about everything. She was just so nice and understanding. Every time either one of us mentioned my allergies as a "disability" we used air quotes (I love this). As much as I do not consider myself disabled, I still have to go through accessibility services (which actually used to be called disability services). It is an office designed for students with disabilities to get accommodations.

With my situation however I am not in need of accommodations. Instead the office designed a notification form for me. It has my name, student ID number, and says that I had severe allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and legumes and that I carry my own epi-pen. This is almost identical to the emails I sent to all of the professors. This notification form is a sheet of paper that I have to give each professor at the start of each semester (can you even still call this the start, its week four) and then they sign off that they received my form.

Most students have an accommodation form, not a notification form. I think I may be the only student with a notification form.

Once all the professors sign off that they received my form, I have to bring the signing sheet to accessibility services. This helps protect the school, the professors and me, now no professors can claim that they did not know about my allergies.

For the next semester I have to email my professors two weeks prior and this time mention that I will be giving them a notification form within the first few weeks, go back the accessibility services on the first day of the semester, fill out paperwork requesting for print outs of my notification form with the current semester date on it, return to the office two or more days later, pick them all up and then give them to my professors, have them sign off that they got it and then bring it back to accessibility services.

I have to complete this process every semester here at this school. This notification form has no information about what to actually do in case of an allergic reaction. To create an action plan the head of disability services asked me to go speak to health services.

I waited until I finally got my notification forms, which was today, twenty-two days from when I first handed in my paperwork. They were not ready until about eleven o'clock this morning, so I had to go to the accessibility services office twice today. Each time I had to wait about ten to twenty minutes on line to be helped. It was a long process.

Then with my nine copies of my notification forms I went straight to health services. I spoke to the nurse in the office about my allergies and was able to present one of my notification forms to prove that I actually have allergies. She kept the form, of course was completely not thrilled about my major (later said she was sorry) and then answered my question. What happens if I have an allergic reaction?

So when handing each professor a notification form, I must also tell them in case of an allergic reaction they are to call the security number and ask for the nurse. All security personal are trained on how to give an epi-pen, which is good to know. If the professor does not tell them to ask for the nurse, the security will come first without her and will waste time. She also said it is better if I somehow get myself in her office which is no where near any of my classes because she thinks its better if I get to her because she may not be able to leave her office to get to me (after a few minutes speaking to her I think I convinced her enough that she better come to me).

She also said that my epi-pen could misfire and most people do not understand why you have to hold it for ten seconds and basically she seemed pretty convinced that the liquid in the epi-pen is going to be everywhere except for inside my body. This way when she comes she said she has spare epi-pens and will use hers. Except I think by the time she gets there it will be too late, so lets just hope I can just use it myself.

I was also told that I would leave in an ambulance and that they should hopefully give my car special permission to stay on campus overnight so I do not get ticketed for that. She said I am not allowed to drive during an allergic reaction.

The nurse also told me that many professors may not want to give the epi-pen. She said I can tell them if they would like they can stop by her office and she can show them. Basically I should expect that most of the employees cannot do it and do not want to do it.

I guess all of this is supposed to make me feel better, but now it feels like I have more work to do and if I have an allergic reaction let's just hope I can give the epi-pen to myself.

#foodallergies #accessibility #health #college

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