The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

The Student News Site of Simmons University

The Simmons Voice

Accessibility at Simmons through the eyes of first-year Aaron Mitchell

The Director of the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS), says there has been an uptick in the number of students with medical accommodations this year, particularly in students with EDS. 

About an hour before his class begins, Aaron Mitchell stands outside the Main College Building of Simmons University, holding his cane and bracing himself to pull open the heavy wooden door. He holds his cane with his right hand and, with his left, grabs the handle and throws his weight back, swinging the door open.

Mitchell is a first-year history and psychology major from High Park, New York. He also has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a group of rare connective tissue conditions. This means Mitchell is aware of and directly affected by accessibility issues on the Simmons’ campuses. 

JoJo Jacobson, the Director of the Office of Accessibility Services (OAS), says there has been an uptick in the number of students with medical accommodations this year, particularly in students with EDS. 

“I think one of the biggest issues is the doors on both academic and res campuses,” Mitchell says. They explain that Simmons Hall has a reputation for the accessible doors turning on and off. “Some days, I can’t wait 10 plus presses of a button to get inside my room because other people are behind me.” 

Laura Brink Pisinski is Simmons’s Vice President of Real Estate and Facilities. “If there’s ever an issue, students should absolutely put in a work order with our facilities team. And they can do that at fixit.simmons.edu,” says Pisinski.

Pisinski says that she has gotten “a lot” of requests to make the front door of the Main College Building automatic, but that it’s not possible due to the size and the weight. “What we’ve done is we’ve increased the time that when you pull the door open, it closes more slowly,” she says. “We’d rather not replace it in the future due to the historical perspective of the building. We would rather direct students to another location that they can use to get into the building.”

Another issue Mitchell mentioned is that many of the dorm doors are too heavy for students with disabilities. They say they were told not to bother going through OAS to get their door lightened because “it took my friend several tries and submitting documentation to prove they actually need it lightened.”

However, if a student puts a work order in through facilities, they will do it for you, says Pisinski. Mitchell plans to do that. “I’m going through facilities for my door because why bother OAS? They’re just going to be like, ‘prove it.’ Do you want me to send a picture of me on the ground after I open it? I can do that,” he says. 

Jacobson says that door lightening requests were a first for OAS this year. “The door lightening, like many other requests that come up, was a matter of the OAS office advocating for the student when working with other departments on campus.”

The One Simmons Project is working to make Simmons more accessible for all students. So far, it has brought all academic campus buildings up to The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, installed wave door openers on at least one bathroom on the first floor of each building, and all the new bathrooms are spacious single-stall, says Pisinski.

The Living Learning Center (LLC) will be the most significant accessibility change. It will bring the residential campus to the academic campus, so students will no longer have to make the 10-minute trek. There will also be elevators throughout the building, so every student with an ID can access every floor. There will be 31 ADA-compliant rooms for students who need those for turn radius, but all of the rooms will be more accessible for students, adds Pisinski.

Mitchell is especially excited about the LLC. “It might make getting to class on bad days easier, and I won’t have to miss classes as much because I won’t have to use all that energy. I just have to go down a building and then out and figure out which building I go into next.”

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About the Contributor
Sophie Caulton, Staff Writer
Sophie Caulton (2026, she/her) is a Journalism major and Writing minor from East Bridgewater, MA. She is also a member of the Honors Program and Comm Liaison. She is passionate about addiction recovery, mental health, good books, and tea.

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