My Quantum Power Wheelchair Goes to College

Maddie tours ASU in her Quantum power wheelchair

I’ve started my second semester as a high school junior, which means I need to pick up the pace when it comes to touring colleges and universities. I’ve already decided I want to stay somewhat close to home, so that has narrowed down the options quite a bit. I really need to decide what I want to study so I can figure out which school is the best fit. So far, other than staying in Arizona, all I know is that I want to include art or design in my studies, and obviously my program must be accessible. One of my mentors and friends who is also a wheelchair user majored in industrial design, and she thought it would be a good fit for me. I decided to explore it further.

Visiting Arizona State with My Quantum Power Wheelchair

My mom helped me arrange a one-on-one tour with the new director of the industrial design program at The Design School at Arizona State University, or ASU. Last month, we loaded my power chair into our van and headed out on my first college tour. We arrived maybe 30 minutes early, and it took us that whole time to find the right building on the map. I was glad I had my Quantum power wheelchair and not my manual chair, because I would have been exhausted!

Accessibility and Inclusivity

Eventually, we found our way and met the program director. He was really friendly and encouraging. After chatting for a few minutes, I asked him for his personal observations about the accessibility of the design school building and facilities. He pointed out that although it’s an old building, another wheelchair user told him she has only observed one issue regarding a bathroom door, but that it is being addressed. He also told us that it was really important to him to receive personal input from people with multiple perspectives to ensure that the building was entirely accessible. He said that ASU’s charter emphasizes inclusiveness and he takes that value very seriously.

Touring the Design School

He then showed us around the entire building where the architecture and industrial design students attend classes and work on projects. I saw classrooms where some students were working independently and attended a live lecture. By far, the coolest areas we saw were the spaces where students could design, build and create prototypes. There were a variety of machines, some of them enormous, for a variety of uses, like working with materials such as metal and wood. Another area was entirely dedicated to 3D printing. They had 3D printers everywhere. Some could print up to 24 inches in height. We also saw the printers in action and chatted with one of the staff members who assists students with working on projects.

Our tour was around one hour long, but we got to see much more than I imagined. I even met a student who was a power wheelchair user. We just happened to run into her. Everyone we met was welcoming and extremely inviting, almost like one big family. From that experience, The Design School at ASU is high on my list!

About Maddie Kasten: Maddie is a Q Roll Model for Quantum Rehab. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and enjoys participating in adaptive sports, playing video games and watching anime. Click here to learn more about Maddie.

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