Accessibility Push Faces Tricky Terrain

Written By: Andrew Wallender, The Georgetown Hoya

When Rachel Anderson (COL ’17) broke her leg on a spring night in 2015, she soon realized that getting in and out of the MedStar Georgetown University Hospital would be the easy part. It was navigating campus in the following weeks that proved to be much more difficult. 

On her first night with the injury, Anderson left the hospital and returned to her apartment in Henle Village in a Safe Rides van. As she limped to the area outside Henle, she realized the challenges in store for her.

“I remember getting out of the Safe Rides van and just looking up,” Anderson said. “My heart just sank because it was just so difficult.” 

She hobbled home, and what was usually a few minutes’ walk took nearly an hour. Anderson crutched up the ramp into Henle, up the two flights of stairs to her apartment and down another flight of stairs to her room.

Henle Village is one of the 11 student dormitories at the university built before the Americans with Disabilities Act took effect in 1990, requiring student housing to include accessible rooms and pathways. Although Anderson’s injury was only temporary, she said it opened her eyes to the experiences students with disabilities live with every day at Georgetown. 

Georgetown’s elevated location on a hilltop and numerous historic buildings uniquely exacerbate the challenges ordinarily faced by students with physical disabilities. Despite these built-in challenges and the burden placed by omnipresent construction, the university is pivoting toward a more accessible campus. Although the construction of the Northeast Triangle Dormitory and the Thompson Athletic Center currently obstructs easy passage of the tricky terrain, the eventual completion of these projects will aim to make cross-campus navigation easier.

 

A CHALLENGED PAST

Vice President for Planning and Facilities Management Robin Morey did not hesitate to assign the university a “C” grade for its history with accessibility because of the university’s challenging terrain.

“In the past we have not done a very good job of really trying to make the campus more accessible,” Morey said. “We’ve made some significant improvements over the past few years, but I think we do have a long way to go.”

From the time Georgetown’s oldest buildings were constructed in the 1790s to the latter part of the 20th century, accessibility for mobility-impaired students was not a major concern. Even in the 1970s and 1980s with the completion of student housing in Village A, Village B and Henle, little attention was paid to creating what would be considered ADA-compliant housing by today’s standards. 

The age of many of the university’s buildings — the average age of a building on the main campus is 70 years old — has forced administrators to play catch-up to make the campus more accessible. Features such as ramps and automatic door push buttons have been added retroactively to allow mobility-impaired students to get around more easily.

White-Gravenor Hall, completed in 1933, is the latest site of efforts to make historic buildings on campus easier to access for people with physical disabilities, according to Morey.

“[White-Gravenor] is on our historic quad, and the accessibility there is questionable,” Morey said. “So we’re trying to make repairs to that to make that a more pleasing entrance to get into the Admissions Office.”

Despite the university’s best efforts to make campus easier to navigate for individuals with mobility impairments, not much can be done to retroactively make certain areas of campus fully accessible. Because a majority of the apartment units in Henle Village, Village A and Village B contain stairs or require stair usage to access, they are likely to remain partially or fully inaccessible for the foreseeable future.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do unless you demolish the facilities,” Morey said. He later added, “But we’re not demolishing Village A anytime soon.”

 

A QUESTION OF DOORWAYS

No matter how accessible the university’s rooms or exterior pathways may be, it means nothing if individuals with disabilities cannot get to them through an accessible doorway.

Disability rights advocate Taylor Price (MSB ’10, GRD ’12), who is a quadriplegic and uses a wheelchair, learned this first-hand as a student at Georgetown. He often attended class in Healy Hall at a time when the doors into Healy from Dahlgren Quad lacked an automatic-opening function. Unable to open the doors, he was forced to wait for passerby to help him into the building. 

“Thankfully, there was all this traffic, and someone would generally be coming in and out,” Price said. “But what if they weren’t? I would just kind of wait.”

Since Price’s days as a student, the historic building was retrofitted to include an automated door on its Dahlgren Quad entrance, but a number of other campus locations lack retrofitted, accessible entryways. 

Katie Lee (SFS ’16) was drawn to this topic in her Cartography and Social Justice class. For her final project, she walked Georgetown’s main campus, analyzing the number of accessible entryways. The results did not surprise her. Out of 108 surveyed entryways, 51 entrances — less than half surveyed — were fully accessible, meaning that the entryway was level to the ground and had an automatic-opening door.

Another 23 entryways were partially accessible, where the entry was even to the ground but did not have an automatic-opening door, and 34 entryways (about 31 percent) were completely inaccessible with a door uneven to the ground that did not automatically open.

“It’s admirable that the new buildings are certainly a little more socially conscious,” Lee said. “But I don’t think that’s enough. I think that when this institution is built so much on history and tradition, and you want everybody to be able to enjoy that history and that tradition, there shouldn’t be a reason why a building like White-Gravenor or Healy is so limiting to students.”

Despite the obstacles of inaccessible entryways, the university has made significant upgrades to its automatic doors, retrofitting previously inaccessible doors and installing a remote control system that allows students in wheelchairs to wirelessly open doors.

“Having the clicker is super helpful,” Pryce Bevan (COL ’17), who uses a motorized wheelchair, said. “Things would be way harder to get around without it.”

As the university continues to upgrade its network of automatic entryways, Price said that able-bodied people often punch or even karate kick the blue buttons that open doors around campus, according to Price, resulting in overuse.

“All the time, people use blue buttons when they don’t need it,” Price said. He added, “But not only do they use them, they abuse them.”

 

TOWARD A MORE ACCESSIBLE CAMPUS

The more than $130 million dollars of construction projects on Georgetown’s campus over the last couple of years have presented the university with an opportunity to attempt to improve accessibility on campus.

The addition of the Northeast Triangle will add four new ADA-compliant rooms to the university’s 53 existing handicap-accessible dorms, according to Residential Services Executive Director Patrick Killilee. The new residential building also allowed the university to make the current pathway between Reiss Science Building and Leavey Center easier to navigate, according to Morey.

The construction of the centralized bus turnaround near the McDonough Arena enabled the university to add a mini-shuttle to help individuals with mobility impairments get from South Campus to North Campus. The overall plan is to designate main thoroughfares of accessible east-west and north-south passages on campus.

“We’re doing our best to leverage our current capital and investment program to improve [accessibility] features along the way,” Morey said.

Despite the forthcoming accessibility benefits of the new infrastructure on campus, students have expressed frustration at the construction’s effect on limiting routes around the university. When the Georgetown University Student Association released a survey last fall assessing student’s thoughts on accessibility at Georgetown, about 11 percent of the 122 respondents said that construction was in some way a hindrance to accessibility.  

GUSA Accessibility Policy Team Vice Chair Ken Marrs (COL ’19) said that construction has been a major focus of his team’s discussions this past year. The team has worked in recent months to ensure that the university is providing a sufficient number of alternate routes when there are closures due to construction. 

“With the construction, that’s something we’re really aware of because it can cause some really big challenges for people who already kind of need to plan a little bit more about how [they’re] going around campus,” Marrs said.

 

TEMPORARILY DISABLED, TEMPORARILY FORGOTTEN

Dozens of students annually are injured and forced to navigate campus with temporary disabilities. Many of these students live in inaccessible dorms — such as Henle Village, Village A or Village B — and have to adjust to new styles of living.

For some students like Anderson, when walking long distances becomes too much of a difficulty, it means not being able to attend class. Anderson, who lived in Henle at the time of her leg injury, had to stop attending class in Car Barn — half a mile away — because of the challenge of getting there on crutches. She said she still remembers the first day she tried attending all of her classes with her injury. The crutches tore her skin and drew blood.

Anderson said she was frustrated the university does not provide transportation options for students with temporary disabilities. She said she thinks Georgetown should operate a system with golf carts during the day similar to Safe Rides for disabled students. 

“I felt helpless, and there was so little that I could do,” Anderson said of her experience. “And I understand the sweat, I understand the tears, but there really shouldn’t be blood to get my education here.”

A petition started by a dean in the College to bring a transportation system with golf carts to campus has garnered more than 120 signatures since its creation a year ago. The university has yet to officially respond to the suggestion.

 

A CULTURE OF NORMALCY

Disability rights advocate Lydia X. Z. Brown (COL ’15), while an undergraduate at Georgetown, tried for years to get the administration to support the establishment of a disability cultural center on campus. Brown said that after three years of working on the proposal, the university never offered any support, even after the GUSA executive branch endorsed the center in early 2015.

The center would serve as a conduit for communication between different offices handling disability issues, according to Brown. Only three universities — Syracuse University, University of Minnesota and University of Washington at Seattle — currently have such a center that works with disabled students and their allies.

The lack of action by the university in creating a disability cultural center is indicative of a larger problem with ableism on Georgetown’s campus, according to Brown.

“Overall, the biggest problem is institutional non-recognition of ableism on this campus,” Brown said. “And that covers a lot of sub-things or sub-points such as there’s no coordinated set of resources or support system for people with disabilities or for people who want to practice ally-ship.”

In October, during Georgetown’s celebration of Disability Cultural Month, the university announced the new formation of a disability studies course cluster, a move that sets the stage for a future creation of a disability studies minor.

Disability studies professor Libbie Rifkin said that around 1,000 students have taken disability courses over the past 8 years, with demand growing in recent years. The increased interest in disability studies has helped break some of the stigma surrounding disabilities on Georgetown’s campus, according to Rifkin.

“I think that Georgetown’s campus is characterized by a hyper-aspiration towards normality and perfection,” Rifkin said. “And I think that this is particularly paralyzing for students who learn differently and think differently.”

 

UNDERUTILIZATION OF RESOURCES

According to a GUSA survey from the fall, the university has failed to adequately inform students about existing resources and accommodations.

“The vast majority of complaints that we got could be handled by the resources that we already have,” GUSA disability policy team leader Dani Zamalin (NHS ’18) said. “So, it was a big problem with not knowing what’s available.” 

When Rifkin had her students pull out all of the syllabi from other classes one semester, she said that less than half had accommodation statements, encouraging students to seek support from the Academic Resource Center if needed.

“If we’re not including statements about disability on our syllabi,” Rifkin said, “how are we making clear that we have a commitment to supporting students? I think it’s a problem.” 

In the fall of 2015, the university hired Anisha Thadani to serve as Georgetown’s first access coordinator and events manager, a position within the Office of Campus Activity Facilities that handles accommodation requests for events, but Thadani said many people within the university do not know that her position exists.

“People don’t know who to contact when they have event-related issues,” Thadani said.  “Sometimes people contact the ARC because they have some resources there; sometimes they contact us.”

Because of the knowledge gap, Marrs said that GUSA has a lot of work in the coming years to communicate to students what resources exist.

“We’re going to make sure that students know [resources] are there,” Marrs said. “We’re going to make it public. We’re going to over-compensate if we have to. I think that’s what we’re trying to work for and hopefully, as time goes on, that’s how it’s framed.”

National Disability Employment Awareness Month: Meet Taylor Price

*Story was first posted on DHS Connect Internal Server

My name is Taylor Price and I have been a member of the DHS Office of Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) since October 2011. I work as a State Coordinator and serve as a primary day-to-day point of contact for governors' offices and governors' designated homeland security advisors for 15 states in the northeast. I communicate with these states on all DHS issues and have served as an integral part of the response to Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombing attacks. In addition, I work closely with a number of DHS components and offices, including DNDO, USCG, I&A security office, and OPS, as well as work on a core team to expand the "If You See Something, Say Something™" campaign.

For background, in July 2004, I suffered a severe spinal cord injury during a diving accident in the ocean that instantly rendered me a quadriplegic. While a lot changed that day, life did not end and I still wanted to pursue the life goals that I had always envisioned, including graduating from school and finding a meaningful job.

In 2011, I had the opportunity to interview with IGA for my first post college, real world job. Throughout the interview process, I felt that the Assistant Secretary for IGA was always looking at me as a person and considering my qualifications first, not the fact that I happen to have a disability. This made me happy and even more motivated to get the position in IGA, but I didn't spend too much thinking about it because that is the standard that should exist. Unfortunately, that is not always the case when people with disabilities are interviewing for jobs.

I'll never forget the day that I received the call letting me know that IGA wanted to hire me. I knew that I could be a productive and influential member of that office, but now I would officially have that opportunity. IGA utilized the Schedule A hiring authority to quickly start me working and bypass some of the typical bureaucracy prevalent in the normal hiring process. The Schedule A authority didn't provide me any favoritism during my process, but only gave me the opportunity to prove myself and start my job quickly.

Once I accepted my offer, my office and I discussed what reasonable accommodations would be necessary, and it was ultimately decided that I needed the height of my desk raised so my motorized wheelchair could fit underneath and allow me to maintain appropriate posture my desk, as well as the purchasing of voice dictation software for my computer to allow me to be efficient in my work. Finally, we created a meaningful episodic telework plan that also included the ability to telework when emergencies arose. All of these accommodations allow me to be the most productive employee that I can be and create the greatest chance of me being successful in my daily responsibilities. Some people may view these as small accommodations (and they would be correct), but they make a huge difference to me.

Last week, as part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, I had the privilege of attending a conversation hosted by CRCL about “Individuals with Disabilities and the Homeland Security Mission” for senior DHS leadership. I was thrilled that this conversation was occurring. What made me most proud was the fact that DHS Deputy Secretary Mayorkas chaired this meeting and was as engaged as you could hope your most senior leaders to be. He asked for direct input on what DHS leadership could do better and took his own notes on the suggestions that were made. While I have always been proud to be an employee of DHS, to see the deputy secretary and other leadership from across DHS participating in this conversation made me that much more proud.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate of people with disabilities is approximately 12.3 percent and only has a labor force participation rate of 20.1 percent compared to 5.5 percent and 68.5 percent of people without disabilities, respectively. Sadly, the employment figures for people with disabilities haven’t changed much since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. I know I speak for my peers in the disability community when I say that all we want is an opportunity to prove ourselves and be productive members of the workforce and society, while simultaneously breaking down preconceived attitudes that people with disabilities can only do “less”.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story and for joining me in raising awareness during National Disability Employment Awareness Month and in support of increasing the employment of people with disabilities at DHS.

Taylor Price: Comeback Kid

Written By: Maddie Donnelly

For Taylor Price, July 8, 2004 started like any other day. It was beautiful and sunny, without a single ominous cloud in the Westhampton Beach sky. He spent the morning working as a camp counselor and then headed down to the beach to babysit for family friends. At around 4pm, just before packing things in for the day, 18-year-old Taylor decided to take a dip in the ocean. He peeled his shirt off, ran down to the water, and—as he’d done a million times growing up—dove under a wave.

Unknowingly, Taylor was diving into disaster: Just below the surface hid a sandbar. One that would, upon impact, fracture his C 5/6 vertebrae and leave him a quadriplegic.

“I was fully conscious in the water,” Taylor says. “Face down, arms and legs extended out, not being able to move. The water was so clear, almost clear enough for snorkeling or scuba diving, but all I could do was move my eyes around. I thought I was going to lose my breath and probably drown in the ocean.”

Thankfully, he did not. Two lifeguards saw Taylor and pulled him ashore, packing him in the sand. His aunt and uncle, who happened to be on the beach, ran over.

“I remember everything,” he recalls. “Every sound and every word that was said. Within a minute of being pulled out of the ocean someone was holding a phone next to my ear and I was talking to my Dad.”

Unsure of the extent of Taylor’s accident—but aware it was severe—the lifeguards called 911. First responders rushed to the beach and placed Taylor on a backboard. He was carried to an ambulance and eventually a medevac, which airlifted him to Stony Brook Hospital in New York.

Taylor spent 11 days at Stony Brook with his parents, sister, and friends by his side. He had his initial surgery and, from there, spent four-and-a-half months at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta undergoing intense physical and occupational therapy. Once home in New Jersey, he started outpatient therapy.

A New Normal

Taylor was six weeks away from starting his freshman year at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. at the time of his accident, meaning that while he was in Atlanta at rehab, his contemporaries were moving into their freshman dorms. Not one to shy from a challenge, Taylor was determined to still have the college experience—albeit in his own way.

“I can go into so much detail about how common it is for anyone with adversity to say ‘why me?’” Taylor says. “It’s so easy. I just didn’t go there. I didn’t give that a chance. There was no reason…I was too busy and too focused on getting better.”

But despite the outpouring of support from his community (and even letters from public figures like Jessica Simpson, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and President George W. Bush), there were doctors, friends, and even family members that told him they weren’t sure college was still in his future.

“It wasn’t could I handle it in the classroom, it was all the other peripheral stuff,” Taylor says. “Not do I want to but can I actually do it. But I always envisioned my life as being active and doing great things. The fact that I’m living it from a wheelchair … I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about that.”

Not only did Taylor graduate from Georgetown in 2010 with a double major in finance and marketing, he went back and got his masters in sports industry management in 2012.

“Until the day I got my diploma there were skeptics, and that was fine,” Taylor says. “I knew I wanted to do it, so not only did I do it once, I did it twice, and I did it really well twice. I’m proud of that.”

Making His Mark

Taylor has done extensive work with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which contacted him shortly after his accident. Additionally, he launched one of Georgetown’s largest scholarship funds, which has raised over $8 million dollars for students to date. He started what is now an annual conference at Georgetown on the employment of people with disabilities and, lastly, works closely with NextStep Fitness, an organization working to bring progressive therapy options to individuals recovering from spinal cord injuries. He is currently helping raise funds to bring a NextStep location to D.C.

“I didn’t necessarily ask to become a part of the disability community,” Taylor says. “But I want to contribute and I’m proud to be a part of it. This community needs strong voices and needs champions—I want to do everything I can for it.”

Taylor recently celebrated the 10 year anniversary of his accident with a fundraiser in New York City. 

“I’ve done more for my life and for the lives of others than I probably would have done in that same amount of time had my accident not happened,” he says. “I’m really proud of everything that’s been accomplished … but I’m more excited for what’s to come in the next 10 years, God willing.”

To read the article online, visit: AmericaWithin.org

Get Smart about Higher Education and Disability Services: Preparing your Family for the College Selection Process

Written By: Nate Herpich on behalf of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center (PRC):

The PRC is a national resource which provides a road map of complimentary services and programs to empower individuals living with paralysis

High school seniors have a lot on their plate. In addition to class work and extracurricular activities, they also must prepare college admission applications ahead of fall and winter deadlines. It can be a stressful time to be sure, so we lend some perspective for those families who may be completing the process in the coming weeks, or who anticipate conducting a college search in the near future.

Fulfilling a Dream
Ridgewood, New Jersey native Taylor Price's dream was always to attend Georgetown University. But in the summer of 2004, six weeks before he was set to report for classes, he sustained a severe injury to his C5 vertebra during a diving accident on Long Island.

Taylor was intent on pursuing his dream, despite the injury that left him living with paralysis, and so he deferred for a year with the intent of still attending Georgetown. In the interim, he began intensive physical therapy to prepare his body for the rigors of college.

Also during that year, Taylor made a trip to Georgetown. As he cruised around campus in his power chair, he asked himself honestly, "Is it feasible to go to school here? Will all my personal needs be addressed?" After doing extensive research, and conversations with the Office of Disability Services, he decided that they would be, and so he enrolled. Now, Taylor has both a bachelor's and a master's degree to his name from the school.

"Georgetown became my home," Taylor tells the Reeve Foundation, "a formative place that help shaped who I am. A place where I built many friendships. It was the next step in the continuation of my life journey, a door opener that has allowed me to pursue other things I might not otherwise have done."

Looking back, Taylor offers a word of advice for others living with disabilities who have decided to venture into the world of higher education:

"Don't hide out at school, you're not so different from everyone else. All of us are dealing with some unique issues in our own lives. Be an active, engaged member of the university community. You're an asset, and offer a diverse perspective that can be incredibly valuable to your classmates!"

Choosing a College to Best Fit Your Needs
Taylor's process for determining if his school met all of his unique needs was unique in itself -- he had already gone through the process of finding a school before he was injured. Still, a major takeaway from his experience can be applied to all disabled students looking at schools: Visit the campus beforehand whenever possible, to determine if all of your needs and concerns can be addressed.

Leslie Jablonski of Minneapolis, Minnesota concurs. Her son Jack, a high school senior, is currently in the process of choosing a school to attend next year. They've begun filling out applications now, as many are due in the coming month or so, but she says the process really began in earnest over a year ago. The Jablonskis have visited several campuses, where they investigated campus layouts, and spoke with campus disability services.

"Be sure to ask what experience a school has in working with your specific needs," explains Leslie. "For example, have they ever had a student in a power chair, and what kind of care/ services were they able to provide for that student? You can really get a feel for a school in person, so I think it's really important to do so if you can."

Putting Together a Checklist
Michael Hoog, from Longmont, Colorado, has already been through the college selection process with his son Tyler, who is living with spinal cord injury, and is now a freshman at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Michael and his family have put together an extensive checklist thanks to their own experience in order to help guide others through the process. Here, Michael offers some key points:

First, investigate college considerations that all students will have, such as:

Degree programs offeredAdmission requirementsSize of schoolGeographic locationCost in-state v. out-of-state

Think about disability-specific considerations, and address the specific needs of your student. For example:

How is accessibility across campus; in dorms, classrooms, common areas and lecture halls?Are live-in caregivers allowed on campus and what might they cost?Is the weather conducive to your student's needs?

What offerings are available through the Office of Disability Services on campus?

Are note takers and testing accommodations allowed?What are the rules regarding relocating courses if they're scheduled in inaccessible locations?How does the office coordinate with campus entities such as dining, athletics, parking, and housing?

What are healthcare services like in the state where your student will be going to school?

Learn about the extensiveness of the state's Medicaid program, vocational rehab programs, and the proximity of required physicians and other caregivers.

Lastly, Michael says, as soon as you've made a decision on a school, begin your outreach to state services as soon as possible, if you need/want to take advantage of them. Your child will need to undergo a medical evaluation when he or she arrives, but letting Medicaid know ahead of time can help the state to locate a caregiver for you, or, begin the process of getting your own caregiver certified if they aren't already.

Financial Aid for People with Disabilities
Leslie admits that what keeps her up at night is "starting over" when it comes to Jack's care away from home. "Here in Minnesota, everyone knows Jack, and everything is in place: from his physical therapist to his doctor to his transportation. And this didn't happen overnight! Once we decide on a school, we're planning on going down there to find all of the right resources, and basically start over when it comes to setting up Jack's care."

It's a nerve-racking reality for families of students with disabilities leaving home for the first time, and one that can be compounded by the growing costs of both education, and healthcare.

The silver lining is that there is financial aid out there, and many grants and scholarships are earmarked to help people with disabilities in particular. The Jablonskis are currently hard at work looking into financial aid and grants. They've also found a specific scholarship program through the University of Southern California (one of Jack's top choices) called Swim with Mike, which offers scholarships to disabled athletes.

Above all, be creative in thinking about how your student is unique -- there is money out there for all kinds of individuals getting set to start their collegiate careers. Sometimes, scholarship funders are looking for students with very specific criteria.

FinAid: Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities is a good place to get started in your search. This award-winning site has grown into the most comprehensive source of student financial aid information, advice and tools -- on or off the web.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is dedicated to enhancing care and providing critical support to the paralysis community in the here and now. Visit the Paralysis Resource Center at paralysis.org and take advantage of the free resources available.

To read the article online, visit: PRNewswire Online

The Best is Yet to Come

Written by: Laura Connors on Simple Sort of Living Blog

This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of attending an event, of which I’m still in a state of stimulated shock. In 2004, Taylor Price’s life changed forever. After diving into the shallow ocean water at the age of 18, Taylor was immediately rendered a C5-C6 quadriplegic. This past Saturday, friends, family, colleagues and former classmates all gathered in New York City to help commend the incredible obstacles and achievements Taylor has accomplished over the last 10 years. Upon initially seeing Taylor, he conveyed how slightly overwhelmed he was with the turnout of people, but how he couldn't be more eager or excited to get the night underway. 

Between all the dancing and the drinking, the energy that filled the room that night was nothing short of contagious. Spirits couldn't be higher, company couldn't be better and smiles couldn't be bigger, as we all gathered to support and admire Taylor’s triumphs over the past decade. But it was when Taylor finally got before the crowd to make a speech, when that high intense energy quickly shifted to complete reverence. Peter Wilderotter, President and C.E.O of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation rattled off a laundry list of heroic successes before introducing Taylor.      

Taylor opened his speech by giving thanks to all of us that were there and helping raise awareness to such a special organization. The combination of his words and his humble, genuine tone quickly left the room silent. There was nothing more real, nor raw, nor heartfelt that night, than the messages he delivered to a sea of hundreds. That state of awe, he embedded in us all, went beyond the scope of mind and ego, leaving everyone grasping onto what really matters most in life.

He cracked a few jokes that despite the common belief amongst 4 year olds, he indeed, is NOT a Transformer! However, it’s that fearless stigma that’s attributed with those toy robots, that he directly correlates to the plethora of opportunities he’s had to motivate and change people. “There are a lot of things I miss, but I love that I have the chance to inspire people and lead by example.” He continued his speech, by expressing how he refuses to accept dogmas and the dogma surrounding his future of not being able to get out of his chair and walk again. “I wanna go out and play golf, I wanna walk on the beach… I’m just waiting for that day that I know will come.”

But it was his final few thoughts that left everyone in the room that night utterly speechless. He discussed how he’s a firm believer in the cliché saying, “everything happens for a reason,” furthering that thought by saying, “there is so much more ahead for me, so many more things for me to do and to see, so many more people for me to help.” Taylor expressed how his life today is drastically different from one he had ever envisioned, but that it’s a life full of beauty, happiness and love and he couldn’t have made it to where he is, without the help and support of those that have continued to stand by him. “You can never do anything alone,” he said, “nobody goes through life doing things alone.”

It was Taylor’s composed string of thoughts that night, ranging from the hurdles he’s faced, to the bright future he foresees, to the inexpressible thanks he has, that years later, despite his accident how celebrated his life really is. A life that he stresses will continue to be lived to the fullest. “I will never have the words to thank everyone for what they’ve done, but I promise to keep doing my best and being my best self, as a form of repaying thanks.”  I take this opportunity to thank Taylor, for continuing to empower individuals in every facet of life and encouraging us all to prosper our own selves, everyday, for the better.

To visit Laura’s Blog online, visit: Simple Sort of Living

Taylor Price '04 Celebrates Ten Years of Accomplishments

On Saturday night, June 14th Taylor Price ’04 invited friends and family to a celebration of a very special 10 year anniversary at the Prince George Ballroom in NYC.

In June, 2004 while diving into the ocean on Long Island’s south shore Taylor suffered a devastating spinal cord injury. Since then he has embodied the Delbarton motto Succisa Virescit (once cut down, it grows back stronger). He went on to earn a BS in Business Administration from Georgetown University, and a Masters in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown. He interned at the White House, worked for the Tiger Woods Foundation, and as a summer analyst with Merrill Lynch.

A decade after the accident he was ready to celebrate the progress he has made since the summer 2004. He has come a long way. In his e-vite to family and friends he wrote, “Some people may think it's odd to be "celebrating" such a life-changing moment, but I am proud of all that's been accomplished over the last 10 years and I want to share this night with so many people who have been integral to my happiness and success." According to Delbarton coach and faculty attendees (including Athletic Director Dan Whalen, College Guidance Counselor Sean Flanagan, Admissions Dean David Donovan and hockey/Baseball Head Coach Bruce Shatel) A Night of Celebration, Friendship and Motivation more than lived up to its name. A great time was had by all.

Proceeds from the event benefited the Taylor Price Independence Fund (TPIF), which was created to help pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance, and a portion will also go to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation in honor of Taylor’s 10 year anniversary.

The Delbarton community salutes Taylor Price '04 on his ten year anniversary. He is a young alumnus who continues to make us proud by the character and stubborn strength he displays every day. What better exemplification of Succisa Virescit than this: cut down within weeks after his Delbarton graduation, Taylor Price has grown back stronger. Ten years later, he continues to inspire the Delbarton community.

To read the article online, visit: Delbarton Online

DC Modern Luxury Magazine- The Power of Philanthropy

Taylor Price: The Advocate

Weeks from beginning his freshman year at Georgetown University, Taylor Price suffered a devastating accident. The then-18-year-old dived into the ocean in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., struck a sandbar and broke his C 5/6 vertebrae. The injury kept Price hospitalized for months and ultimately left him a quadriplegic. Price pledged to still attend Georgetown—he earned his undergraduate degree, a master’s and now works for the Department of Homeland Security. Price has become an advocate for those with spinal-cord injuries and a devotee of charitable causes. He even introduced the Employer Worker Incentive Act to expand employment opportunities for the disabled.

During his time at Georgetown, Price helped launch one of the university’s largest scholarship funds. Since 2007, the Peter F. Karches Scholarship Fund, named for a friend’s father who died of leukemia, has granted upward of $8 million. Price also works with the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation by offering the organization advice and speaking to groups about spinal-chord injuries.

Price’s latest project is to help bring NextStep—founded by a Georgetown alum—to DC. Based in California, NextStep provides exercise and rehab equipment at a low cost for mobility-impaired individuals. Price is a member of the steering committee working to raise money for the endeavor. There’s nothing even close to that caliber locally, Price says, which is why he became involved. Price says he sees his disability as happening for a reason—so that he could give back. “After the accident, I was overwhelmed with support,” he says. “I know how good that made me feel, so it’s only furthered my commitment to philanthropy.” Given the millions he’s helped raise—and the millions more to follow—it’s a good bet that Price’s passion will lead to better lives for those with similar injuries.

To read the article online, visit: http://modernluxury.com/dc/story/the-power-of-philanthropy

Georgetown Giving Website- Chain of Giving Honors Alumnus Peter F. Karches

Few alumni have given more in both service and support to their alma mater than Peter F. Karches (B’74), who died of leukemia in 2006, and his wife, Susan Karches (C’74). Peter Karches served on the board of the McDonough School of Business, the Board of Regents and the Board of Directors. He was also a member of the Wall Street Alliance.

His generosity inspired not only his peers but members of his children’s generation as well, including Taylor Price (B’10) and Matthew McBride (C’08), two classmates of his son Peter (C’08). Seeking a way to honor Karches, Price and McBride spearheaded a fundraising effort among fellow students to initiate the Peter F. Karches Scholarship.

Susan Karches and others have added to the fund over time, bringing the value to more than $5 million.

Michael Rankowitz worked with Peter Karches at Morgan Stanley for more than 20 years. When Rankowitz and his wife, Sheila, joined the Hoya community as parents of Colin (C’11) and Ian (C’15), they joined the cause, adding generously to the scholarship endowment, enabling the fund to increase the number of full-need scholarships. “It was an easy decision to support the scholarship and it’s a very appropriate way to honor Peter,” Rankowitz said.

There are currently 11 Peter F. Karches Scholarship recipients at Georgetown. “These are impressive young people who just need the opportunity,” Susan Karches said of the scholarship recipients.

“I know they will give back throughout their lives—they’ll be men and women for others,” she added. “I can’t think of a better way to honor Peter. Nothing would have made him happier.”

To read the article online, visit: http://giving.georgetown.edu/story/karches

Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation President Peter Wilderotter’s London marathon blog

Mile 22: Taylor Price

Taylor Price will change the world. Mark that down and take it to the bank.

On July 8, 2004, he was enjoying a family vacation in Westhampton Beach, NY. Life was great - he’d be entering Georgetown University in the Fall and in Taylorspeak: “life was a blast.” At the beach that day, he dove under a wave and his neck hit a sandbar, breaking C5/6.

Many people either don’t remember what comes afterwards, or everything is a blur, but Taylor recalls it all. He describes the moment of impact as a “dead man’s float” and recalls how quickly and professionally the lifeguards responded.  He remembers feeling the sensation that his legs were over his neck and he kept asking them over and over to straighten out his legs. But they kept responding that they already were.

Taylor describes the moment he was told he was quadriplegic as the time he “went from being fully independent to completely dependent. He spent the next two weeks in Stony Brook Hospital, followed by several months at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta before returning home to Ridgewood, NJ - all the while pursuing the best rehab and searching for answers.  He told his doctor, his family and friends that he was still going to Georgetown, and they were all skeptics. But dreams deferred often taste sweeter, and a year later, Taylor entered his beloved Georgetown.  And next month, he will be receiving his second degree from Georgetown, a Master’s degree in sports industry management!

When I talked to Taylor about this blog, I was surprised by his statement about dependence, as he’s always seemed to be one of the most independent people I know. When Taylor articulates a point, he does so in such simple and profound terms, equating it to today’s political discourse suggesting people make it on their own. He has an attendant, and has learned to accept help from others, while at the same time knows he has to do more by himself.

Taylor feels too many people close themselves off from that reality, and he wants to demonstrate that although the way he gets around may be different, he will reach and surpass all the goals he sets for himself. His injury has enabled him (Taylor’s words) to become more self aware and to prove that he can and will contribute more to society.  “My assets have been reallocated,” he explains, “and it may take me a little longer, but I’m going to make changes.”

Just look at the record. At Georgetown, he participated in the student government.  He’s testified on the Hill, and he served as a White House intern. His Master’s thesis is about disability access in sports stadiums, putting forth a premise that those teams that go above what the ADA requires see an increase in team loyalty, productivity and spending. Boy, do we need those arguments.

Taylor would like others to know how financially challenging spinal cord injury is. And how hard it is for family members, especially parents like his, who hope and wish they  could fix everything. His heart aches at being unable to play golf with his Dad, but when you see the two of them together, you witness a bond and camaraderie far deeper than can be achieved on the links.  I asked him how he feels today, as opposed to those early days, and his response was: “I accept my injury for today and probably tomorrow and maybe even for the foreseeable future. But I will never accept it forever.”

Need I say more?

Mile 22 - bring it on.  Any fear that it might cause me will be cast aside because Taylor would tell me to simply stay in the race, you’ve got work to do. Taylor’s motto—he borrowed it from someone pretty familiar to our crowd:  “nothing is impossible!”

Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Advocate Profile

On July 8, 2004, then 18 year old Taylor Price, was involved in a catastrophic accident, while vacationing with his family on Long Island. After diving into the ocean and hitting his chin on a hidden sandbar, he was instantly rendered a C5-C6 quadriplegic. He spent eleven days at Stonybrook University Hospital, before being moved to The Shepherd Center in Atlanta, GA, where he participated in extensive physical and occupational therapies over four months.

In the fall of 2005, Taylor began studying at Georgetown University where he majored in finance and marketing. Despite his disability, he was one of the most "active" and visible people on campus. During his undergraduate years, Taylor served as the student representative on Georgetown's Board of Directors for two years, was involved in Georgetown University's Student Association, co-founded one of the largest scholarship funds at Georgetown in memory of a friend's father, and is one of Georgetown's biggest sports fans . Taylor received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration as a member of the class of 2010, graduating cum laude.

Taylor had an amazing opportunity to intern for The White House, in the spring of 2010, as a member of The Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. His responsibilities included communicating directly with mayors nationwide regarding the President's agenda and local priorities, preparing briefing materials for senior staff meetings, and assisting with events.

On the advocacy front, Taylor spoke on Capitol Hill in 2005 to help introduce the "Employer Worker Incentive Act for Individuals with Severe Disabilities" alongside Senators Bob Dole, Ted Kennedy and Pat Roberts. Furthermore, Taylor was a co-founder of the Conference on Employment of People with Disabilities hosted by Georgetown University. The conference is designed to examine the public policy choices and the business and technological challenges and opportunities that affect the employment of people with disabilities

To read the article online, visit: http://www.christopherreeve.org/Advocate_Profile_Taylor_Price

Summer Analyst Taylor Price Challenges Paralysis to Achieve Goals (Merrill Lynch World Net)

By Laura Saunders Egodigwe

Taylor Price is a Global Wealth Management intern at Merrill Lynch this summer. In itself, that is an accomplishment for any student, but consider that for the last four years, he has been working on resuming a “normal life” after a swimming accident left him quadriplegic.

At the time of the accident — July 8, 2004 — a date he and his father, Bill Price, a 31-year Merrill Lynch employee, vividly recall, Taylor had been weeks away from beginning his freshman year at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Taylor, then 18, dived into a calm ocean off Long Island, New York, something he had done numerous times in the past. This time, he hit his head on a shallow sandbar, breaking his neck and causing a severe spinal cord injury.

After the accident, Taylor, who is now 22, spent five months in rigorous physical rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, the largest spinal cord institution for young adults in the United States. He continued his therapy at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange, New Jersey; the Magee Rehabilitation Hospital in Philadelphia; the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C.; and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis in Miami, Florida.

One year later, he started college at Georgetown.

Taylor, a senior who expects to graduate in 2010, lives on campus with the help of a caregiver who helps him manage many aspects of daily life in his changed physical reality.

The finance and marketing double major has become an active member of the Georgetown community, which now includes his 19-year-old sister, Ellie. He has served as a student senator, co-chaired the Homecoming Formal and holds a job in the university’s Office of Communications and Protocol. This fall, he will be a liaison for University Affairs to the student body president, holding seats on Georgetown’s board of directors and the alumni association’s board of governors.

Taylor has also become an advocate for people with disabilities and runs a website dedicated to his activities. Through his involvement with the Christopher Reeve Foundation and other charity functions, Taylor has worked alongside many well-known celebrities, athletes and politicians. In his freshman year, he spoke on Capitol Hill to help introduce the Employer Work Incentive Act for Individuals With Severe Disabilities, a Senate bill that aims to encourage companies to increase the percentage of their workforce with disabilities.

“I’m so happy that I’m at Georgetown, knowing that I’m continuing on a journey that I was supposed to be on before my accident and something that many people told me could not be done. I’ve followed my goal,” Taylor said.

“There have been changes in the reality of life but it hasn’t all been bad,” he added. “A lot of things are harder and I do many things differently. I may not do them as quickly as everyone else, but there have been very few things that I haven’t been able to do.”

That includes becoming a summer analyst at Merrill Lynch headquarters in New York, where he split his eight-week internship between GWM’s Global Investments & Insurance Solutions group and the Private Banking & Investment Group.

“Taylor is an extraordinary individual,” said his manager, Director Jason Rich, chief administrative officer of PBIG’s New York office. “He has a very positive outlook and brings a fresh perspective to many of the items we work on.”

Mr. Rich added that Taylor’s “analytical skills and ability to build relationships with the people he works with make him an important part of the group.”

Taylor’s parents — Bill Price, a director of GMI Institutional Fixed Income Sales in New York, and Marnie Price — remain hopeful that with a medical or scientific breakthrough, Taylor will one day walk again.

“I know the hurdles that he goes through every day,” Taylor’s father said, “but he handles them with tremendous courage and determination and always with a smile on his face.”

Constantly Fighting an Uphill Battle (The Hoya)

For Taylor Price (MSB ’09), getting around campus isn’t easy. Operating a motorized wheelchair forces him to take elevators and ramps, which are subject to malfunctioning and inclement weather. In order to access the McDonough School of Business lab in New South, Price must take the Village A elevator down to the first level. Once, when the elevator was broken, Price was stranded until it was fixed.

Georgetown’s hilly landscape can often make traveling around campus a chore, evidenced by the grimaces of those trekking up the Library Road hill. However, it’s more than an inconvenience for students with physical disabilities, who are often relegated to a series of elevators and detours.

Jenny Faenza (COL ’11), who suffers from pulmonary hypertension, a high blood pressure condition that makes physical exercise and breathing more difficult, said that frequent elevator malfunctions lead to complications for her.

“If they have the money to put number plates in Village C, the elevators could be fixed. There are all these signs, and yet the elevators break constantly,” she said.

Price and Faenza also brought up the difficulty they have with using the SafeRides services on campus. Both the Department of Public Safety and SafeRides representatives said the service cannot accommodate wheelchair-bound passengers.

Bad weather can often increase risk for mobility-disabled students in navigating campus roads and walkways.

“I’m like a car 24/7,” Price said. “An icy sidewalk is like an icy road.”

Price, however, took matters into his own hands last fall when he spoke to an administrator about the entrance to Healy Hall from Dahlgren Quadrangle. The heavy doors, he said, made it nearly impossible for him to enter the building independently. After Price’s push for change, the university replaced the doors, making them automatic – and thus handicapped-accessible – at the beginning of this semester.

Price said that university officials are, more often than not, willing to address concerns, but enacting larger-scale changes can be a challenge because physically disabled students are such a small minority.

“I would generally say that facilities are good. If there is something wrong, they tend to be receptive,” he said. “There’s no question that this group of students is a vast minority. But it would be our hope that the appropriate amount of funds be allocated even though it’s a small group of students.”

Faenza said she believes the university can do more to help mobility-disabled students get around. “I just assumed that every campus would do all that they could to help people with special needs. But I feel that the campus could do a better job overall,” she said.

Jane Holahan, director of the Academic Resource Center, admits that it is not always easy for physically disabled students to navigate the campus, and sometimes students need to point out problems in order for changes to be made.

“To say [an] assessment is going to catch every single item is unrealistic. It’s going to take someone in a wheelchair, or with a cane, to raise an issue that maybe wasn’t thought about before,” she said.

Terra Cusack, learning skills specialist at the ANC, said that the center serves as the central coordinating hub for disability services.

“Our office doesn’t work alone. Although it is our mission, what we are tasked to do, we work with other offices,” she said. “We are the first point of contact because students have personal relationships with us. The students are really listened to and respected. Our desire is to meet the needs of the whole person.”

In 1990, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, a civil rights law that aims to protect against discrimination based on disability. Title III of the act establishes regulations for the accessibility of public accommodations and commercial facilities.

Buildings constructed before the act was passed, as most of Georgetown’s were, are only required to comply with the act if they undergo renovations or new construction. Many of the campus’s buildings were erected before advancements in technology allowed for easy accessibility.

For example, Older Law Center buildings do not need to provide Braille signage as they were built before 1990.

But Holahan added that Georgetown is conscious of the difficulty that mobility-disabled students have in getting around campus.

“Georgetown was one of the first campuses to actually implement the mandates under the ADA,” she said.

Holahan said the university stringently follows ADA guidelines when designing new buildings, including the new MSB building.

“The architect is beholden under the ADA,” she said.

Different architectural teams are hired with an ADA expert on staff or with a contracted ADA consultant, according to Karen Frank, vice president for facilities and student housing.

Frank added that the university has consistently tried to improve its facilities in order to make facilities more accommodating to the special needs of students.

“There has been a lot of work done over the years with curb cuts and making restrooms handicapped accessible,” Frank said.

Although the university is taking care to plan new buildings according to ADA guidelines, Frank said that the university relies on student feedback to make changes to existing facilities. She emphasized, though, that the structural capacities of older university buildings limit accessibility upgrades. In particular, she said the varying floor heights in Ryder Hall of LXR inhibit the creation of a seamlessly accessible building.

“Not all of Ryder is accessible,” she said. “It was an existing building and we made them as accessible as possible.”

Although ARC and the Office of Student Housing work together to meet the needs of mobility-disabled students who require special living conditions, some students said that this leads to few options.

“For housing, they’re helpful, but I feel like you’ve got to jump through hoops. If you tell them you have special needs, they assign you a room and there’s no leeway. We don’t get as many options,” Faenza said.

Robert Hurtekant (SFS ’08), a wheelchair-bound student, said that although he has always been able to secure an accessible room before the lottery process, he and his roommates had problems communicating with ARC, housing and facilities last year.

“The major problem was that my apartment, in and of itself, is quite accessible, but there is a set of stairs between the apartment and the courtyard,” he said. “Georgetown was able to give me a remote clicker, which gives me an alternate access route through an external emergency door, but that didn’t happen until right before school started.”

Students have agreed, though, that though Georgetown can at times be inconvenient to navigate, and the general accessibility of campus figured prominently in their decisions to attend Georgetown.

“Of course, I wouldn’t have come here if I thought that getting around would be impossible,” Hurtekant said. “I made a visit to Georgetown in the spring of my high school senior year and spent an entire weekend here. I paced the campus and was convinced that I could get everywhere I needed to go. New South Hill was a bit daunting, though.”

Faenza said that many stairwells on campus made her realize early on that navigation would be challenging.

“I came to GAAP weekend, and it was very difficult. I remember walking up the Village C steps, and it was torture,” she said.

For Hurtekant, getting acclimated to his surroundings was a process that took years to complete.

“By senior year, I’ve got the lay of the land,” he said.

Price said that Georgetown has been accommodating for him but can always reach out to more people, students, faculty and visitors alike, to make the campus a more accessible place.

“We should be as inviting to all people, in all situations, in all walks of life, to be as facility-friendly as possible,” he said.”

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