SLU is one of many colleges in the country dealing with accessibility issues for students with disabilities. With the ongoing construction on campus, many students feel that accessibility should be considered a priority.
ADA regulations, which were enacted in 1990 by the US government, protect against disability discrimination. Colleges like SLU must take all necessary action to assure that students enrolled and living on campus with disabilities have the resources necessary to successfully complete their college obligations. SLU, and many colleges throughout the country, work to help disabled students with everything from getting in and out of the buildings to working in the classroom. SLU has directors of student disabilities who work with the students individually and directly to assure this happens.
Some students have spoken out about existing issues with disability access in particular locations around campus and the inconvenience that such problems have caused.
“I had a friend who lived in the hall next to Fusz, and I couldn’t get into the residence hall because they didn’t have an elevator” student Tim Gruensfelder said. “Right now I’m living in the village, and any of my friends who live on the upper floors of the village can’t get there” Gruensfelder said.
Some locations on SLU’s main campus are accessible, but the locations of accessibility are less than ideal. For example, the Lindell Blvd. side of O’Neil Hall is not accessible by elevator, and a student needing access must do so through a secondary entrance on the back of the building. Some doors are automated, but others are not. The terrain on campus is relatively flat, though some slope does exist on some of the main walkways, and that can be a hassle for disabled students. During the winter months, ice and snow can cause many headaches for students with disabilities having to battle with slick conditions and the risk of injury. SLU grounds workers are responsible for the maintenance and treatment of walkways and buildings during snow and ice to ensure that students can walk the campus safely.
Policies for buildings in SLU’s sports complex, even when vacant seating is available, have also caused inconvenience for friends and family of disabled students.
“I went with people to Chaifetz Arena and they’d only let one person sit with me [in the handicapped spots]. And no one else was sitting in those spots” Gruensfelder said.
SLU is amidst two separate construction projects on its campus. Each of the buildings will be used as student housing.
“I know housing is very excited because it will bring in units that are very accessible and will have accessibility features built in. So it will increase the number of residence hall options for students with disabilities” Student Disability Director Heather Stout said.
Facilities management also feels that they are indeed making a lot of improvements when it comes to accessibility. For them, knowing is half the battle, and when problems are brought to their attention, they work to make sure that they are fixed as quickly as possible given the time and funding available to make those necessary improvements around the campus.
For students with disabilities, it is a much better situation to decide upon a university that offers them the greatest opportunity to succeed given their limitations. Moving forward, disabled students, given ADA guidelines and an improving attitude of importance and awareness for disability access and regulations, feel hopeful that their colleges will comply and provide more attention to fixing any pre-existing access issues.
If students notice, they feel that the university should also take notice of the issues that having a lack of accessibility can cause for the students and for the university.