American with Disabilities Act compliance: Students address campus accessibility

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When talking to students with mobility issues about the Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, ADA, on the Pacific Force Grove campus there was some uncertainty as to whether the mobility issue is temporary or long-standing.

Students who have dealt with mobility issues long before they came to campus seemed able to navigate the obscure building obstacles such as lips at the bottom of doors and uneven sidewalks. Students who developed mobility issues after they came to Pacific had a different experience.

Senior Jerry Barriga, who developed a lung disease over the summer break, found that not all areas of campus follow ADA compliance. To be ADA compliant, commercial and public entities have to ensure equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities and transportation.

Barriga had trouble getting to a class in Scott Hall on the second floor because of her heavy oxygen tank. The elevator that is in Scott Hall is an old freight elevator. The elevators existence does not seem to be common knowledge. Three of the students interviewed for this article didn’t know there was one in Scott Hall. This was one of the reasons the Learning Support Services for Students with Disabilities office, LSS, moved from the second floor of Scott Hall to the second floor of Clark Hall.

Clark is a building built for the ADA compliance. The LSS office is at the other end of the hall and requires a key to access it.

“Once I was trapped in the LSS office because there was a problem finding the key for the elevator,” said Barriga.

There are certain tricks to getting around campus as freshman Rachel Taketa, who has dwarfism, can attest to. Finding doors with handles at the right height and other maneuvers to help her travel around campus.

Taketa discovered these tricks on her own though she took a tour of the campus, the tour guide did not explain to her ways to get around.

Students without disabilities when asked about compliance said they didn’t know what accommodations were available and where these accommodations are located on campus.

There is specific parking for wheelchair vans directly across the street from the health center and other necessary buildings for new and visiting students. There is also a ramp to get registration and take a tour. Yet, this ramp also poses a problem. When someone gets out of a van in this parking area there isn’t an easily accessible way to get onto the sidewalk to the ramp. When Rachel toward the campus the tour guide did not know where accommodations were. This seems to be another communication issue. There are things to assist students with mobility issues if they can figure it out on their own.

When a potential student with mobility issues visits the Forest Grove campus there is little to let them know they’re welcomed here. When Taketa visited campus the tour guide did not know where accommodations were. Students like Taketa and Barriga said signs to inform people with disabilities of where they can find certain accommodations would help.


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