SIUE has a long way to go before it's truly accessible

Via Unsplash. 

Accessible services provided for disabled students often break or don’t serve the students adequately, which creates difficulty in their day to day lives.

 

The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures that SIUE’s campus has accessible buildings for every student. However, SIUE’s campus leans more toward having the bare necessity for its disabled students, rather than having a functional environment.

 

Doors are an example of this. SIUE’s buildings have doors that with the press of a button, will open for several seconds. When the button is pressed, some doors on campus will make a sound and stay shut. This can make it significantly harder for a disabled student to navigate campus, as they would have to either find another accessible door or use the non-accessible doors. 

 

Since the doors are for bathrooms as well, there could be an issue where an accessible bathroom door breaks and won’t open with the button. In this case, the student may have to try and find another bathroom or try and push on the accessible door ­­–– which takes significantly more force to open than normal doors on campus. 

Some halls, such as Peck, only have accessible bathrooms on the first floor of the building. This means that any disabled student on the third floor of Peck will have to go all the way down to the first floor to be able to easily use the bathroom.

 

Housing is also subject to some of the pitfalls of SIUE’s accessibility. Accessible rooms for students are typically in the back of dorm buildings and may not even be on the first floor. In Evergreen, every accessible room is on the fourth floor of the building. This isn’t ideal for students with disabilities, as the room being on the top floor makes leaving the building much more difficult than if they were on the first floor.

 

The size of the campus also introduces difficulties. There are many steep hills, and there are no alternatives to campus paths besides driving. If you don’t want to take the long paths to class, you’ll have to drive. Having to drive every day to class, especially if you live in a dorm, is costly. If you don’t own the right parking pass, you may have to pay for parking each day, as well as pay for gas for driving each day. While there may not be a way to make SIUE’s paths fully safe and accessible, there could be ways of making alternatives cheaper and better for people to take, such as allowing disabled students to park in the green lots on campus.

 

SIUE has made attempts to make its campus more accessible to its disabled students, but to be a truly accessible campus for students, it needs to provide accessible services to its entire campus. This includes giving every bathroom an accessible door and making sure that those, as well as every automatic door on campus, function consistently. They also need to make sensible decisions about where its accessible rooms are, such as having all the bottom floor rooms be accessible to create less difficulty. 

(2) comments

Dominic Dorsey

I appreciate the spirit of advocacy in this post! We too share a vision for a fully accessible SIUE and realize that movements of any nature typically happen incrementally and never overnight. Anyone who has experienced or witnesses a barrier to accessibility on campus is encouraged to contact us directly via our online Disability Access Response Tool (DART). The DART form can be found on the ACCESS website on the contact page at https://www.siue.edu/access/contact/.

Once there you can report on the date and time a particular issue occurred, in what physical space, building or general area of campus, even if it's online. You can also indicate if you would like for someone to follow-up with you on your concern. So if you see a malfunctioning automatic door button, any potential barriers to those with mobility challenges, or accessibility issues in an online class; please contact us so we can work with the key stakeholders to remedy the issue in real time and keep respondents abreast of any updates.

I can also share that ACCESS does approve parking accommodations for students who qualify. I urge anyone who is experiencing issues related to their ability status, regardless of whether it is intellectual, physical, sensory, or mental health related, to contact our office to see what types of accommodations and resources are available. We look forward to hearing from you! You can visit our website at https://siue.edu/access or via email at myaccess@siue.edu.

Michael Schultz

Your facts are not correct about all accessible rooms in Evergreen Hall being on the fourth floor. There are accessible rooms distributed throughout the building and all floors. The assignment process can be used to place students with mobility issues on the entry floor. Accessible rooms are used for more than accommodating mobility issues. The building was designed that way so that students may participate in special interest communities or be accommodated as an RA and not be excluded because of a disability. With options like this it makes the building more universal. The building was designed to exceed ADA requirements, such as the front doors being sliding doors with touch less entry.

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