Student frustrated by wheelchair accessibility at Malcolm X College

CHICAGO (WLS) -- College students who use a wheelchair should not be stopped from getting education because of their disability. A Malcolm X student said she is frustrated by the challenges she has faced.

Ever since she was shot in the head 10 years ago, Ryann Brown has been determined to live on her own. The 28-year-old has limited use of the right side of her body and a wheelchair is how she gets around.

Pursing a degree in mortuary science, Brown was excited to start at the brand new, state-of-the-art Malcolm X College until she says she could not access the classrooms, computer labs and bathrooms.

"I can't access them without assistance," Brown said. "I worked hard to gain my own independence. That to me is a slap in the face."

While the doors from the outside have powered door openers, Brown says nothing inside does. Her cell phone video shows how she struggles to keep the bathroom door open long enough to get her wheelchair through the door.

"I can either catch someone coming out of the bathroom and tell them to hold it for me, or I have to push door with my wheel chair," Brown said.

Brown emailed the college president. He rectified the situation by putting door stoppers on her classroom and a nearby bathroom, but Brown says when she tried gaining access, the doors were still closed.

According to the Great Lakes ADA Center, Malcolm X meets the minimal accessibility requirements under the American Disabilities Act. However, because it is a public school, the law may require the college to go above and beyond.

"While the standards say you don't have to put a powered door opener as part of accessibility requirements, there may be requirements to program access requirements," said Peter Berg, Great Lakes ADA Center.

In a written statement, Malcolm X College says through City Colleges Disability Access Centers, it is committed to providing access to all students. The center offered Brown an aide to help her gain access to classrooms and bathrooms, but Brown turned the offer down.
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