Arlington High School has been educating students since 1915, and has seen two additional buildings built since then. Although the additions have allowed for over a thousand students to attend the schools, they have done little to help students or faculty in wheelchairs maneuver around the building.
AHS has only one elevator throughout the entire school, which makes it extremely difficult for handicapped students to travel between floors. Also, the school has a plethora of doors in each hallway that are difficult for students in wheelchairs to open.
These limiting factors make it difficult for handicapped students to travel throughout AHS in a timely manner. A study conducted by members of The Ponder Report revealed that it takes a student in a wheelchair approximately seven and a half minutes to travel from the 2nd floor to the 4th floor of Downs house. Given the fact that students are only given three minutes to travel between classes, these factors would eliminate any chance of a handicapped student arriving to class on time.
Principal Mary Villano said that in such circumstances teachers would be lenient towards students with handicaps and allow them to arrive to class a few minutes late. Ms. Villano stated “Mobility around the school is a challenge for handicapped individuals” and that all teachers should take that into account when they take attendance. While providing flexibility to handicapped students is a step in the right direction, it could possibly alienate them as well.
Entering the school itself is difficult for handicapped students, since AHS only has two outdoor ramps: one ramp is by the secluded cargo bay and the other is part of the raggedy fire escape from the auditorium.
Despite several setbacks, the school is doing its best to help students in wheelchairs enter the school. For one, the school will be lowering the sidewalk in the front of the school so that handicap accessible vehicles can more easily drop of their students.
According to Ms. Villano, the school “would not pass any construction regulations if it were to be built today.” Due to the school being so out of date, AHS will either have to be renovated or rebuilt entirely to meet the new handicap accessibility codes. Such a construction could cost millions of dollars, but Ms. Villano says the school will have to do something in the next few years.
AHS does have a program for injured or handicapped students, where a tutor is assigned to them and brings them home all of their work. These tutors also teach the students, to keep them up to date with their classwork. However, such a program does not give the injured or handicapped students the sense of belonging that being in school can.