On March 24, Archer O’Brien (C’ 16) sent a proposal to Mount St. Mary’s University expressing concern about the university’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the Mount is currently compliant with Titles 1 and 2 of the Act, students have noticed that there might be room for improvement.
O’Brien requested that the university move “in a new direction regarding compliance with the Americans with disabilities act and a vision for full accessibility that goes beyond the constraints of the law where possible.”
Bill Davies, Vice President for Business and Finance, agrees that the Mount should be more aware of the needs of people with disabilities, and welcomed O’Brien’s proposal.
“I don’t have those eyes to see what is needed. You can learn so much from someone who has to go through those challenges. I’m so respectful of that,” Davies told the Echo.
The proposal mentioned four main areas of concern: the library, science building, Student Affairs office suite in McGowan and most of the elevators on campus.
Since receiving the proposal, Davies has worked with the Physical Plant to organize full building inventories and assess the needs of campus for efficiency and effectiveness. Davies explained that since many of the buildings on campus are so old, many are not suited to the present needs of those at the Mount.
The library is currently only handicapped-accessible through a tight door on the southeast side. Davies explained that three different companies have assessed the current elevator and have determined that there are possible and necessary improvements. Handicapped access to the Niche, the only part of the library open 24 hours per day, has not been determined yet.
The science building and Knott Academic Center pose similar problems with regards to the elevator and accessibility.
In McGowan Hall, there is no handicapped door button for easy accessibility. In his proposal, O’Brien explained that while the Americans with Disabilities Act does not mandate additional door buttons beyond entrances and exits to the building itself, there should still be a button to “facilitate independent and consistent access to the offices and meeting spaces in the upper McGowan area.”
Davies explained that these doors present a difficult situation, since they are fire doors and therefore have their own set of regulations. The Physical Plant is still determining the best way to proceed.
“We are always in continual assessment, the ‘how-do-we-make-it-better mode.’ Archer’s info was extremely helpful to make sure we have appropriate priorities,” said Davies.
Photo courtesy of Haley Phelps.