Four out of 37 buildings at Eastern are fully accessible

Weller+is+the+least+accessible+because+of+its+cracked+sidewalks%2C+step+up+backdoor+entrances+and+no+outside+push+to+open+button.+

Rob Le Cates

Weller is the least accessible because of its cracked sidewalks, step up backdoor entrances and no outside push to open button.

Madelyn Kidd, News Editor

Out of 37 buildings on campus, The News discovered through research that only four of those buildings passed the inspection for being accessible for students with disabilities to navigate the buildings.

Editors from The News examined several aspects to determine whether each building is accessible: doors with ramps and automatic door openers, elevators, wide hallways, handrails, accessible stalls in bathrooms, access to campus offices or services, etc.

The main consideration was whether someone in a wheelchair would be able to travel throughout the entire building.

The News found that 33 buildings on campus, including academic halls, residential spaces and others, were inaccessible to some degree.

The four accessible buildings are Ninth Street Hall, Tarble Arts Center, Blair Hall and the University Police Department office.

Many other buildings were almost completely accessible, but either one or two accessibility features were missing or needed maintenance.

The Thomas Hall entrance next to the dining hall does not have accessible door operators. (Ashanti Thomas)

Residence Halls:

Thomas Hall

Thomas Hall does not have any accessible entrances with automatic door openers, but the southwest entrance does have a ramp. The elevator in Thomas Hall works, but there is only an elevator on the north tower and not the south. This makes it difficult for everyone to be able to get to their floors as they move in or out each year as they have to carry heavy objects up and down several flights of stairs. There is an accessible bathroom in the basement.

There are three laundry rooms in the basement with either four or five washers and dryers in each room. To enter two of the three rooms, students must go down steps. If a student with a wheelchair is able to go to the basement, they are faced with a problem of getting into the room. The student still has to get through all of this with a hamper or two filled with clothes. 

Andrews Hall

Andrews Hall has two accessible doors both on the side facing Taylor Hall. However, one of the buttons to open the doors at the entrance facing Thomas does not work. There is an elevator and laundry accessible on each floor.

Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall does not have accessible entrances with automatic door openers, but has two ramp entrances on the south side and main entrance into Taylor. The south side does not have an elevator, and Taylor has one accessible laundry room.

Lawson Hall

Lawson Hall only has a ramp entrance on the back side with a broken automatic door opener. Some bathrooms do not have handicapped showers or stalls. There are still some areas that are accessible for students. There are large unisex bathrooms in lobby area. Lawson has an elevator and accessible laundry on each floor.

Lincoln Stevenson Powell-Norton Halls

Lincoln Stevenson and Powell-Norton Halls are completely inaccessible from the north side parking lot. There are handicapped spots. There is a ramp that leads to a locked stairwell with no elevator. The south side has handicapped parking. There are ramps that lead to and from those spots, but the only way into the building is the ramp that leads to the dining hall on the Lincoln side. This ramp was fairly steep and difficult to navigate in a wheelchair. Once inside Stevo dining, you can travel by elevator. During hours Stevo dining is closed, someone from inside the building would need to open the door for anyone needing to use the accessible entrance. 

Pemberton Hall

It is impossible to get into Pemberton Hall with a wheelchair without going through the Pine Honors College. The entrances into the Pemberton Lobby are inaccessible and there are stairs to get to the front desk. Some entrances have a ledge or stairs. There is an elevator in Pemberton as well as in the Honors College. The bathrooms/shower rooms are inaccessible because they have a ledge at the entrance. The east and west entrances of the honors college have the automatic door openers.

A wheelchair cannot go over the ramp to enter Weller Hall. (Ashanti Thomas)

Ford, McKinney and Weller Halls

There are several concerns in the Triad. For each building, there is a ramp with automatic doors but the doors only open from the inside or via a remote control “garage door opener.” McKinney and Ford both have a main entrance with a ramp, one side door accessible by stairs and one by ground level. Both McKinney side entrances are accessible for wheelchair users. The pavement for the ramp at Weller Hall’s entrance has crumbled away and is too steep. This was the only accessible entrance into Weller and with it inoperable, handicapped students cannot get in.

University Court

The University Court office includes a ramp but no door opener. Every residential building in U Court has three stories, none of which are wheelchair accessible; the first floor is one flight of stairs down from the entrance and the second and third floors are upstairs. 

U Court has two accessible apartments with their own entrances which include ramps. 

University Apartments

Every apartment, office and even the laundry center for University Apartments has about a three-inch step at the entrance. There is at least one accessible apartment with a ramp. Most of the sidewalks to travel between buildings also include steps.

Greek Court

Each building has at least one accessible entrance with at least a ramp if not a button. The main office is also accessible, though the entrance is very far from parking lots.

For students who are physically disabled, the two Yorkshire accessible apartments are the only ground-level options of the 11 housing buildings. The disability-friendly apartments feature things like lower countertops and appliances, wider hallways and grips and railings in the bathrooms. (Rob Le Cates)

Academic Halls:

Coleman Hall

With Coleman Hall, all entrances have stairs except one facing Taylor Hall in an arch near the bottom. In that entrance, the left side has no button but the right side doors do. On the third floor of the men’s bathroom there is not an accessible stall. There is a stair lift on the second floor to the third floor but it requires a key.  

Klehm Hall

For Klehm Hall, the east entrance has a ramp to the door but no button. It does have a ramp leading to an elevator on the inside. The inside door operators work. There are also many signs leading you to an elevator. Everything else seems fairly accessible. 

Lumpkin Hall

For Lumpkin Hall, the west entrance doesn’t have a door operator. There is an elevator with a tight fit and quick to shut door. Someone in a wheelchair or with slow mobility would be hit by the elevator doors trying to close when entering and exiting the elevator. The elevator seems to reach all floors in the building.

Life Sciences Building

When it comes to the Life Sciences Building, it’s extremely difficult for handicapped people to navigate, mainly because there are stairs everywhere. There are doors that have buttons to help open the doors, but, other than that, there was no elevator in the building. As for the outside areas leading to it, one entrance does have a ramp. 

Physical Sciences Building

The Physical Science Building was fairly accessible. There is an elevator which accesses all floors and each floor has accessible restrooms and drinking fountains. There are only two automatic door openers and accessible doors on the west side of the building. No other sides had accessible doors. The outdoor button for the northwestern door is broken. The button still functions, but the blue handicap accessible sign is missing and the button is detached.

The entrance leading to Buzzard Hall has huge cracks and many rocks on the ramp, deeming dangerous and inaccessible for wheelchair users. (ASHANTI THOMAS)

Buzzard Hall

Buzzard Hall bathrooms seem to be accessible. The northeastern door has automatic door openers. The main entrance door is accessible. The door nearest to HitMix 88.9 radio studio does have a ramp, but it doesn’t have a button. The doors near the TV station do not have buttons and are very heavy. Doors in Buzzard are heavy, including some classroom doors. There is one elevator in the middle of the building. The restrooms have handicapped stalls. 

Blair Hall

Blair Hall is fairly accessible. There are handicap buttons at each entrance and the bathroom has a handicap stall. The elevator is spacious.

 

Services and Office Buildings:

Old Main

Old Main seems to be the least accessible of all the buildings. The main front entrance has a handicap button but only opens the first doors coming into the foyer and not the giant wooden doors. The only accessible entrance is a back entrance that has a wide door and a button at the end of the ramp. However, this door is only unlocked during the office hours for the cashier’s office, and is locked during lunch from noon to 1 p.m. This means if someone needing an accessible entrance has a class which starts or ends in this time frame, they would have to exit from an inaccessible entrance. 

The other entrances are not accessible at all. The elevator is hard to get to, and there is a mailbox that causes a very narrow path to get through. The bathrooms are accessible. The entrances to the staircases block the way for the bathrooms and to get into the main hallway. 

Martin Luther King Jr. University Union

The Martin Luther King Jr. University Union is fairly accessible as long as you have a guide or knowledge of where to go. There are two accessible entrances, on the east and west buildings. The main accessible door is on the west side of the east building, which leads to the Panther Food Pantry and the hall with the east side elevator. The main bathrooms on the east side are inaccessible due to tight hallways. However, there is a family, gender neutral, and accessible single bathroom in the vending lobby on the first floor. There is also an accessible telephone, microwave and water fountain. The east elevator is operable and takes you to each floor on the east side including to 7th Street Underground.

On the west side, the only accessible entrance is the southeast entrance into the Dining and Housing offices. There is also a ramp into the southwest entrance, but the hallway is too narrow to fit a wheelchair or crutches safely into. The bowling lanes have a ramp to go down to the lanes. The elevator is tucked into a corner near the bowling lanes. 

The elevator is operable and is next to the Food Court where the west staircase is. The entries to the Food Court could be a concern for those who cannot physically push the turnstile. The self-serve drink station is also a concern due to the height of the fountain drink buttons and where drink supplies are stacked. While the bathrooms on the second floor across the Food Court might be a tight entry, they are fairly accessible, but no other bathrooms on the west side seemed to be. With the MLK Jr. Union services, all the entrances remain unlocked late into the night, so the west entrance does not rely on the Dining and Housing office hours.

Booth Library has only one accessible outside entrance on the South side of campus. (Rob Le Cates)

Booth Library

The north entrance of Booth Library is completely inaccessible with multiple sets of stairs to get into the library. The south entrance is accessible, though, with an elevator to all of the floors. 

The main challenge throughout the library is navigating between bookshelves. Most have just enough space to fit a standard wheelchair through, but some appear too narrow. 

Fourth floor bathrooms, marked as gender-neutral and accessible, have doors to get to them which are not button-operated. Gendered bathrooms are accessible, though.

Student Services

The Student Services Building is accessible at bare minimum. There is only one automatic door opener, which is conveniently by the elevator. There are five floors that make up this building with only eight stairs for each one and the elevator has two sides for doors because it alternates depending on which floor you go to. There was only one men’s restroom and one women’s restroom on different floors, and while the men’s restroom was accessible the women’s was not. First the smallest hallway is the opening for the women’s restroom, which could not fit most wheelchairs. The space between the doors for the stalls and the wall is also very slim.

University Police Department 

The University Police Department building has one accessible door at the main entrance on the west side of the building and handicapped parking in the lot on the south side. The emergency phones across campus are at an accessible height that someone in a wheelchair would be able to use in an emergency.

Gregg Technology Center

Gregg is accessible with a spacious ramp and handicap bathroom stalls. There are buttons on the inside and outside doors. Weller Hall’s sidewalk to get up to the ramp has ridges and is broken. Weller’s side doors are only accessible by stairs.

Health Services

The Health Services building has a ramp on the west side leading to doors but doesn’t have a door operator on the outside. There is a ramp on the side facing Thomas Hall and a ramp in the back, but no door operator to the back doors.

Hand rails are needed on steep ramps or slopes for people with mobility disabilities to hold onto for support. (Rob Le Cates)

McAfee Gym

McAfee only has one accessible entrance. However, the ramp is very steep with no hand railing. Plus, the automatic door opener is at the bottom of the ramp, creating a race to the door before it closes. This ramp was difficult to go up on in a wheelchair. This is the only accessible door without stairs in the way to enter the building. McAfee is also the building which houses the Students Disability Services office. 

Traveling in McAfee is dependent on the elevator to and from the basement and second level floors. The ground floor is cut off. There are multiple accessible bathrooms in the basement. Another automatic door is landlocked by stairs. Water fountains are a little high for someone who is wheelchair bound. There is a ramp that leads to the accessible door to the parking lot by the reserved spaces.

Ninth St. Hall

This building is fine. The main entrance off of the parking lot is completely accessible. 

Textbook Rental Service

While the entrances are accessible and this building is only one story, navigating between bookshelves with mobility aids may be challenging. The shelving holding the textbooks are tall and without the ability to stand, students might not be able to access certain books. Visitors may want to call ahead and request help gathering books. 

 

Athletics:

Lantz Arena

As you walk through Lantz on the lower level, the hallways are steep and slanted without railing along the walls, imposing difficulties to those who are wheelchair bound. There are also no working accessible doors on the bottom level. The bathrooms on the lower level have handicapped stalls, but the entrances are tight because of how close they are to the sinks. There are no designated handicapped seating in the Padovan Pool or the field house for indoor events. There are some designated seating across spaces in the upper level, along with working doors. There is an elevator, although it is difficult to get to.

O’Brien Stadium

O’Brien Stadium has multiple handicapped parking spots, but only one entrance into the stands. There is the one ramp on the South side of the stadium seating.

Fields

The baseball and softball fields have accessible paths, but the only places a wheelchair user could be able to watch games have an obstructed view. Any of the grass fields for soccer, tennis, golf, etc. have no pavement pathing to them for a wheelchair user to easily access the fields to watch games or practices.

Cracks on the sidewalks around campus which are dangerous to wheelchair users. (Ashanti Thomas)

Arts:

Doudna Fine Arts Center

The Doudna Fine Arts Center has a few doors that don’t have buttons, but most have them. There are also two elevators in the building. The door nearest the art and design area does not have a button, as well as one of the doors near the Mellin steps. The bathrooms seem to be wide enough for students to be able to get into, and the elevators are easy to access. 

The main south entrance has a high door frame along the bottom of the doorway. A wheelchair may get stuck on the frame going in and out and leverage from the side of the doors was needed to get the wheels over the frame. 

Tarble Arts Center

The Tarble Arts Center had doors wide enough for those in wheelchairs to get access to. They also have functioning buttons, and the pathways leading up to them seem pretty safe. 

Burl Ives Studio Hall

The Burl Ives Studio Hall had two entrances with ramps leading to the doors. However, there were no visible automatic door opening buttons if any.

 

Luke Taylor, Autumn Schulz, Kate Stevens, Rob Le Cates, Ashanti Thomas, Cam’ron Hardy, Adriana Hernandez-Santana and Ellen Dooley contributed to this article.

Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]