ADA compliance is not always convenient

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Chassis Walker photo

A car is parked, blocking a wheelchair access point to the sidewalk, on Troy University’s campus beside the Trojan Dining Hall on Wednesday. Ricky Treloar, a student from Montgomery, Alabama, who is wheelchair bound, said this is a common sight for him on campus. 

 

Sarah Mountain

Arts & Living Editor

Disabled students at Troy University are finding Troy’s campus does not always accommodate their needs, despite being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“There’s a huge shortage of automatic doors in most buildings,” said Autumn Parrish, a freshman music education major from Selma, Alabama. “It may seem like a convenience, but for people with mobility aids they’re more of a necessity.”

The ADA, a civil rights law passed to ensure non-discriminative measures against disabled citizens, has requirements of every public university. At Troy, these accommodations are overseen by the disability services coordinator and director of human resources.

Many of the older buildings on Troy’s campus, mostly dorms, are missing automatic doors with buttons. However, according to the ADA, buildings constructed before revisions were made to the law are not required to come up to code.

The 2010 Guide for ADA Funds explicitly notes that dormitories and all student housing take second to last priority for ADA funds, and shouldn’t use grant money unless it comes “from a housing agency or (the grants) specifically spell out that purpose.”

Therefore buildings, such as Clements hall dormitory, won’t be given accessibility upgrades unless renovated and fall into the 2010 amendments to the ADA. However, even dorms built post-2010 such as the Newman center, pose accessibility issues for disabled students. 

“The only way up to campus from Newman is either a tall set of stairs or a long ride around the nursing building and up past the practice field,” said Anna Shaw, a junior elementary education major from Alexander City, Alabama. “We make everything within the building accessible to physically disabled students, but as for getting out and about, it’s a different situation.”

“It can be a challenge placing handicapped students in the dorm,” said Housing and Residence Life Coordinator Sabrina Foster. 

“We might not have a lot of them (disabled students), and every dorm has handicap rooms to accommodate their needs, but when you take a deeper look at it, placing them in a dorm that can adapt to what they need isn’t as easy as it seems.”

According to Dean of Student Services Herbert Reeves, who also coordinates with the ADA, it has been a very long time since the university has received ADA funds. 

“Upgrades and renovations are done as needed to the campus in general,” Reeves said. “Funds for these projects usually come out of university budgets.

“The university continues to make significant improvements to make the campus completely accessible. As buildings are constructed and/or renovated they are brought to 100% compliance.”

Outside of dorms, access to some buildings is out of the way for students with disabilities.

“Getting to TC is strenuous for students who can’t use stairs,” Parrish said. “You’d have to walk all the way around Bibb Graves and past Patterson to get in.“Meeting requirements isn’t the same as adjusting to our needs.”

Ricky Treloar, a freshman music education major from Montgomery, Alabama, who is wheelchair bound, commented on additional issues he has experienced on campus. 

“One of the biggest problems I see though is with the handicap parking spaces,” Treloar said. “Specifically, the striped zones between the spots being consistently used by university vehicles.

“Even if they are there for only a second, I can’t use the ramps if they’re even remotely blocked. I see more university vehicles than student ones.”

Treloar encourages students and staff to be aware of handicap accommodations around campus including handicap stalls, buttons and parking spaces. 

Blocking or using these areas is extremely restrictive to disabled students. 

“If you should see a student having difficulty accessing a building or area of campus please have them report the issue,” Reeves said. “There are multiple departments dedicated to addressing these issues.”

Students can contact the Office of Student Services with comments or find an ADA grievance form on troy.edu.

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