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Accessibility Studies

Student Investigations Featured at Diversability Day

Students in ASP 305 Accessibility & User Experience have investigated local venues for accessibility. Several of their reports will be featured at Diversability Day, an event highlighting the importance of barrier-free design in everyday environments. Posters of their  photojournalistic efforts will be displayed during th event Monday May 15 at Dean Hall 430-600PM.

Several projects focused on CWU's main campus, such as Brittney Windsor's description of the Randall Clay Room. Humberto Avila shared his experience visiting CWU's Barge Hall from the perspective of a blind person trying to visit Student Accounts. His account included more than the architectural analysis for he explained the compound effects of physical obstacles, the lack of adequate signals, and the common anxieties all students have when trying to sort out financial difficulties. Joey Thornton focused on Mitchel Hall, nothing that "Though recently upgraded to include automatic door operation on the east end of the building, the west end still does not have push-button door assistance, which is an issue for the outward-opening doors throughout the building. Additionally, the second floor doors do not have push-button access, leaving the doors difficult to open. Often this is ameliorated by leaving the entrances to the second floor propped open during business hours. Sadly, this isn’t a permanent fix, and someone simply forgetting to prop open the doors is a reality every day." 

A more ambitious investigation of CWU's campus was reported by Cheyanne Manning who analyzed the whole campus from the perspective of a wheelchair user: "Even the newest built building on CWU’s campus (Science II) isn’t easily accessible for someone in a wheelchair. The only entrance/exit that can be used is by a long ramp on the west side of the building. The building enters right off of a main mall on the east side, but there are stairs leading up to that entrance creating a barrier for someone who travels by wheelchair. There are many other examples of buildings on the campus that do not have easily accessible routes for wheelchairs. One building that has been concerning is Michaelsen Hall. This is a large two story academic building that does not have an elevator. If you are in a wheelchair and have a classroom on the second floor of Michaelsen you will have to enter through Randall Hall and take the elevator up, then travel through the Breeze Thru Café to get over to Michaelsen. Not only is that a far travel distance, it isn’t safe in case of emergency. Exterior issues have to do with campus inclines that are not to ADA code, so would be dangerous in a wheelchair (ex. Angled sidewalk on the northwest side of Bouillon Hall). Other issues pertain to bumpy travel, curb cuts missing and extended travel distances from parking spaces. There are more problems that are specific to weather changes; ice, snow, and large puddles creates hazards to PWDs."

Love's Truckstop in Ellensburg was also analyzed for wheelchair accessibility. Courtney Mohan found "As you drive up the building you notice that there is no handicap parking in front of the building. All of the handicap parking is located behind the building and not near any doors. Then the next challenge is getting over a ramp built into the sidewalk and is nearly non-existent. Not to mention the sidewalks and narrow and not wheelchair friendly. Next you notice that doors are not automatic and hard to open. If you are in a wheelchair and visit the Subway inside Loves, you learn that is a real challenge because the counter is so tall that you cannot see the menu boards very well because the counter is in the line of view. Next you can’t really see past the counter to order a sandwich and it is a struggle to order a sandwich because you also can’t see the product that you are ordering. Also if you proceed to the restroom though the store the aisles are very narrow. Once you enter the restroom, it’s very crowded and hard to enter the stall. Once in the handicap still it is not very use friendly. The bars are nowhere near the toilet neither is the toilet paper dispenser."

Patricia Dailey shared an experience common to many parking lots: other drivers who do not allow enough space for a wheelchair to be maneuvered in and out of a vehicle, and the great frustration in getting people to comply. An interesting aspect to these investigations is the responsibility of the property owner to guarantee access but also the customs of the store managers enforcing (or not) these requirements on other customers who may violate them. Parking was also an issue in Brittany Francis' article on Rotary Park in Wenatchee where "There are only two handicap parking spaces for the entire park. They are also the farthest spots from the park entrance trail."

An elementary school in Entiat, WA, was also found to be inhospitable. Deb Porrovecchio reported that "There is no signage to help guide those in need of these services. PWODs have no problem directly entering the building from the few parking spots in front or on the side of building. Once in the building PWD need someone with access keys to use the elevators. Making PWDs dependent on others for mobility. This unnecessary dependence to participate in a basic child related activity discourages PWDs to be supportive, and be considered typical, ordinary people."

The students in this online class may live far from Ellensburg, so they are spotlighting many different locations.Camille Grove found McNary Dam in Umatilla, Oregon, located on the Columbia River on the border between Oregon and Washington State, "surprisingly in such a small town, is a very disability friendly park.  Other investigations included Foss High School entrance in Tacoma which Sandi Gruberg found to be a mountain of inaccessible steps. In Yakima, Brittney Deaton analyzed Northtown Coffeehouse from several perspectives of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and found it welcoming. Hannah Spero visited JUMP-Jack’s Urban Meeting Place, in downtown Boise, Idaho and interviewed people with and without disabilities and found it "stimulating and creatively engineering/constructed."

In her analysis of a Fred Meyer store in Bothel, Olga Selezneva provided a good description of a person without disabilities in order to make the point of contrast for a person with disabilities: "When I am the person without disability, I see a store as a well organized place. I can easily move around, and if necessary reach for that pack of salt on the very first floor row or that one special candy set that I crave for often on the very top row that is above my head. Basically, I have all the physical freedom of bending and reaching that eases the trip to a grocery store and results in me buying whatever I wanted, but when I see people riding in carts while shopping - a thought slips my through my mind, “lucky person, doesn’t have to walk when so tired”. In the freedom of PWODs, we see the world more acceptable, more welcoming, and more caring. However, there is the other side to the coin. Being a person with physical disability, you don’t see store trips as easy."

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