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Editorial: Accessibility isn’t just a niche issue

The newest building, the Business and Engineering Convergence Center is mandated to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and it has done so. However, new issues with the design have developed, requiring the university to take additional steps to ensure the building’s accessibility.

The ADA mandates that any public building constructed after 1992 comply with certain regulations to ensure that disabled Americans can access the full scope of services, assistance, and opportunities as their abled counterparts.

The convergence center has many double doors throughout the corridors. Intended as a fire safety measure, with additional security benefits, the doors have inconvenienced students with mobility issues since the building opened this fall. The doors have no automatic-opening system, making it difficult for some students to get through them.

In addition, almost all the bathrooms in the building have a double-door system. The location of the bathrooms ensures that, to access the toilet from anywhere else in the building, a student would have to go through both the corridor doors and the two doors to the bathroom.

Bradley has done its legal duty, but, as the university itself has acknowledged, additional steps will need to be taken to adhere to the spirit rather than the letter of the law.

Many buildings on campus were built before the ADA requirements took effect, ensuring that temporarily and permanently disabled students cannot access many facets of student life. The second floor of the Garrett Center, for example, is utterly inaccessible to anyone who cannot use stairs.

We urge the university to make the planned adjustments to the new building, and also to seriously consider the accessibility issues in the other buildings on campus.

Disabled students may be a minority, but they are as entitled as any other student to the experiences and services Bradley has to offer.

Doors may seem like a small issue, but they represent a larger problem that cannot ethically be ignored. The university cannot “close the door” on this issue.

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The Scout is published by members of the student body of Bradley University. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the University.