‘Our world is not made for people like me’: Ms. Wheelchair Wyoming advocates for more accessibility in Riverton schools

    Ms. Wheelchair Wyoming 2024 – Harlee Speyer of Riverton – paid a visit to the Riverton School Board this week to discuss strategies for making school facilities more accessible to all community members.

    Speyer has used a wheelchair since 2014, when she was severely injured in a car crash at the age of 17.

    The accident “changed my life forever,” Speyer said, resulting in the loss of feeling in her legs – and the loss of “most of my independence.”


    “My journey with disability has opened my eyes to the disparities that exist within our community,” Speyer told the School Board. “Our world is not made for people like me. My goal is to help change that.”

    Accessibility isn’t “merely a luxury,” Speyer said – it’s “a fundamental right,” and it needs “to be addressed, especially in government entities like the school district.”

    “For far too long, individuals with disabilities have been marginalized, their needs overlooked, and their voices silenced,” Speyer said. “This is why it’s important to talk to disabled people and get their input on accessibility.”

    The school district has done “a great job” adhering to federal Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, she noted, but those rules represent the “bare minimum” for accessibility and don’t address the “little things that able-bodied people don’t even think about,” like the location of paper towel dispensers and toilet flush levers, or the presence of area rugs, which can get “stuck” in wheelchair wheels.


    As the district moves forward with reconfiguration, Speyer suggested “engaging with individuals with disabilities and listening to their needs and implementing solutions that foster inclusivity – not just for employees, but for students and visitors alike.”

    “To make our campuses better than the bare minimum, we could form a committee of advocates from the school district and people in the disabled community to come together to talk about how we could make it better for everyone,” Speyer said. “Every student, employee and guest should feel welcome at any family night, community gathering or sporting event.”

    School Board Member Lori Morrow called that a “great goal” and thanked Speyer for “bringing that to our attention.”


    “I thought that this would be a great place to start educating people about accessibility, since we’re based on education,” said Speyer, who works in the district. “I’m hoping that maybe I could work with you guys and just bring those little things to mind.”

    For more information, call Fremont County School District 25 at 856-9407.

    Click here to support Speyer’s trip to the Ms. Wheelchair America National Competition this summer in Michigan.


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