Archive | December, 2011

ADA Compliance at UK

11 Dec

UK’s ADA Compliance

                Those who are disabled and cannot get around with a little help are a priority when it comes to access to buildings. There are many standards that must be met to build things. These include the following: ramps, elevators, listening devices, allowing service animals, parking, another things. Although there are regulations for the up keep and the number of these accessibility tools, things such as time and money can greatly affect the ability of the up keep. These flaws can reflect badly on a place or business or in this case the school.

The ADA(Americans with Disabilities Act) is used to protect the rights of disabled people and to help them live normal lives. The ADA also protects people who are looking for education, jobs, housing, and much more. On their website they tell of all the regulations and their updates. They also have ways of contacting them to propose new rules for the act to include.

Ramps are the first thing I would like to talk about. People who use wheelchairs, both electric and non-powered, and people that use walkers, use ramps to get to places that they need to go. The RCRV (Rockwell Collins Retiree Volunteers) and WRAP (Wheelchair Ramp Assistance Program) contributed to an article about ramps. They say that a standard ramp should be one foot of elevation for twelve feet of ramp, making a twelve to one ratio. Some ramps are on a ten to one ratio due to space limitations. The maximum allowed ratio is eight feet of ramp for one foot of elevation.

Another type of ramp is a curb ramp. These are used to allow people to get up curbs from the street so they do not get ran over by cars. The ramp for a curb has specific rules as well. One rule is that the ramp must be at least thirty six inches wide, or three feet wide. Curb ramps must have flared sides unless pedestrians would not normally walk across the ramp. Flared sides are sides that ramp out instead of there being curbs surrounding the ramp. For corner ramps the minimum distance between the end of the crossing walk on the diagonal from the ramp must be at least forty eight inches, or four feet.

One more type of ramp is a build-up curb ramp. A built up curb ramp typically consists of asphalt or concrete that is poured and shaped into a ramp that runs at a 90 degree angle away from an intact curb down to the roadway. These ramps are not allowed to obstruct the path of a car. The path of a car includes anywhere cars are allowed to drive, including roadways, parking lot driveways, parking spaces, and access aisles.

In an interview with my sister’s husband, who is a construction worker, I learned how much ramps can cost to build. He told me that an eight by three foot ramp that elevates one foot kind of ramp would cost around eight hundred dollars. This is because the labor for three to four workers and would cost around five hundred dollars and three hundred for supplies including bed rock, concrete, and any other supplies they could need.

A while after the interview I asked him how the ramps are made. He told me that the first thing they have to do is dig down to set bed rock to allow water to drain and not break the ramp. This could be easy if there was not a sidewalk but if there is they must first break it away with jack hammers. Next they have to set a mold of the ramp. This is done with wood. Normally they take particle boards (because they are cheap and light) and make a ramp out of that. Once that ramp is made it becomes a negative of the final ramp. they set it in place and fill cement into a drilled hole in the board on tip. They use this because it lets the concrete set at an angle. If the angle wasn’t there then it would not be a ramp.

This seemed a little weird to me. I thought that building a ramp would be easy but with some looking around the internet I found a video that showed differently. This video is of some workers making ADA compliant ramps for a building. As the video shows, there is a lot of work to do to build ramps. They have to break out the existing sidewalk, dig down to place stones to prevent sink holes, and then fill over the area multiple times to finish the ramp. So what I was told and this video are similar. Ramp building is not an easy task as I once thought.

Some ramps have problems around campus from my own view. Some ramps have potholes in at the end of the ramp. Because the pot hole is in the street, not on the ramp, this is viewed as okay. I’m sure that we can all agree that these potholes should be fixed. However, a pot hole could easily cost twenty five to fifty dollars or more to fix. This is tax payer money that is usually used on other things rather than minor road repair. So to pay for the materials to fix the pothole and to pay a company to fix the potholes would cost more tax money then the school cares to spend.

Other than potholes, there are more problems with ramps. I have seen some ramps that are cracked, or uneven, due to breaks in the sidewalk. To fix these problems you would likely have to re do the ramp and fill in all of the cracks. Once again there is a cost of materials and labor that is not seen as a good use for tax payer money for minor damages.

So how does this make the school look? Students with disabilities see these problems more than ones without. A person in a wheelchair could fall over if they hit a pothole and get injured, or they could lose all momentum of their movement and be stuck out in traffic. This could lead to serious injury or even death. These problems are seen as extreme dangers to be avoided. So if the school has bad ramps then they can be seen as bad from the view of the disabled.

The next thing I would like to touch on are elevators. Elevators are big, mechanical things that can move you up and down a building to get from one floor to another. These are vital to many people, especially the disabled.

A very common problem seen for elevators is that it can be “out of service” a.k.a. broken. For nondisabled people this is not a problem, just take the stairs. For a disabled person it’s a whole different story.  Without an elevator to get you upstairs in a classroom building then you could miss a class for a week easily. This can also be related back to a person who is not disabled. If a student is injured, whether it be a sprained ankle or broken this or that. All of these injuries would prevent you from easily going up and down stairs so you would be forced to use an elevator.

Elevators must be inspected at least once per year. Having a person inspecting an elevator could easily cost hundreds of dollars. While looking online I found that an inspection usually costs around four hundred dollars. Also when the elevators break down it could cost much more to fix them.

From The ADA regulations in section 4.10 It outlines that elevators need to have call signals for when the elevator reaches your floor, buttons to call the elevator to your floor, lights to know where the elevator is, elevators must be able to move and stop on their own (sorry elevator operators you’re job is gone), they must also have brail for blind people, and the normal letters must be raised as well. The light that tells what level the elevator must be at least 53.8 lux which is as powerful as five candles. The buttons in the  elevator car can be no higher than fifty four inches from the floor. As for the doors, they must have safety equipment that keeps the door open if something is obstructing the way. Also the minimum time the door can be open for must be at least three seconds.

Around campus this doesn’t seem to be much of a problem from what I have seen. All of the buildings I have been to have multiple elevators around the buildings for easy access and in the event of one breaking down then there is always another to get you up and down the stairs so you are not late for class or a meeting.

However, if more than one broke down and the building only had two elevators then the question becomes, how long until the elevator is fixed? This is an important question relating to class, dorms, and safety of students. If a student is unable to get to his or her class room then what can they do about it? They will lose out on learning in class with fellow students. If a student couldn’t get upstairs in their dorm then they would have nowhere to sleep. Also if a dorm caught on fire and they had no plan for disabled students then very very bad things could happen, possibly death. This would reflect harshly on the school if break downs were common. Break downs could cause major problems.

From ramps to elevators getting around can be hard. But what about in class? Speakers are used in lecture halls to allow students in the back to hear better. Tower style speakers are usually located on both sides of the white or black boards. In the lecture hall that I go to for math in White Hall, there are six tower speakers, three on each side.

Using these speakers allow students in the back of the room to hear the professor more easily. There are students that are hard of hearing that can use these to help hear the teacher better. If a student had a hearing aid but it breaks then these speakers are necessary to their learning.

Also students in wheelchairs can use them to hear better because there are no ramps in the lecture halls. Wheelchairs are stuck in the back of most lecture halls so speakers help them hear their teachers.

These speakers can fail though. The other day in my chemistry class the speakers were not working at all. We had a guest professor teaching the class so he did not know how to fix the problem with the speakers. What this meant for the class was grim. I sit in the front row of the class and it was hard to hear him from there. So teachers are so reliant on the speakers that they don’t use loud voices in class. I am sure the students in the back of the room could not hear at all.

On the flip side of this problem, some teachers do very well in the event of broken speakers. My math teacher has not used the speakers in White Hall all year. The reason for this is because he spent a year in a room that had no speakers and bad acoustics (acoustics are basically the rating of how well sound travels in a room). This meant he had to use a loud and clear voice to allow students in the back to hear. Because of the years spent like this he learned that you can’t always trust the speakers and you have to do without at times.

Now, we can all agree that these speakers are useful and should be necessary. Sometimes teachers don’t use the speakers and other times they could be broken. Both of these problems have happened in my classes in the past. The easiest way to fix this problem would be to make sure all lecture halls have good speakers. However these speakers are not cheap. For good quality tower style speakers you could easily play eight hundred dollars each. If a lecture hall has six of these that would be a total of four thousand eight hundred dollars for one room. This is a very large sum of money. In White Hall alone there are six lecture halls. That would be a total of twenty eight thousand eight hundred dollars for one building. The school does not have the money to continually buy new speakers when old ones fail so teachers have to adapt and students, disabled and nondisabled, can be harmed by this lack of funding.

Now, the real question here is “what does this mean for the school?” The answer to that is very easy. If the University of Kentucky does not have good accommodations for disabled students then they will have a bad reputation. Also students who are not disabled but who are injured could also be affected by bad accommodations. So students who are in sports, like foot ball, and get hurt easily think about how easily they can get around too.

The school needs to make sure they have enough money set aside for repairs, ramps, and new necessary equipment. The disabled student community would be much less likely to attend a school that does not care about how well they can get room dorms, class, or other places on campus. In contrast the students would be more likely to go to a school that welcomes disabled students such as the Northern Kentucky University. For the University of Kentucky this will still take some time because it is a very old school. But in time it will become better and better.

Thankfully these are not big problems around campus from my view. However my partner did cover this from the view of a disabled person. That was probably pretty easy for him because he is disabled. A link to his side of the paper can be found at http://dallaswilloughby.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/disability-access-on-uks-campus/

Works Cited

ADA. “ADA Accessibility Guidelines.” United States Access Board. ADA, 1 Sept. 2002. Web. 11 Dec. 2011. <http://www.access-board.gov/adaag/html/adaag.htm&gt;.

Artist wheelchairs. Examples of 1:12 Ramps. Date unknown. Date accessed: 16 Nov. 2011.<http://www.newdisability.com/wheelchairramp.htm&gt;

Handicap Ramp Design and Construction Guidelines. Handicap Ramp Design and Construction Guidelines. Rockwell Collins Retiree Volunteers and Wheelchair Ramp Assistance Program, 2010. Web. 8 Nov. 2011. <http://www.rcrv.org/WRAP/rampguidelines.pdf&gt;.

HappyPlace. “Signs – Broken Elevator.” Wish I Didn’t Know — WIDK – Things I Wish No One Would Tell Me. I             Wish I Didn’t Know, 8 Oct. 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <http://wishididntknow.com/2011/10/08/signs-broken-elevator/&gt;.

Hasbro. “File:Twilight Potted Plant Crash Wheelchair S1E15.png.” My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic Wiki.             Hasbro Inc, 3 Sept. 2011. Web. 21 Nov. 2011. <http://mlp.wikia.com/wiki/File:Twilight_potted_plant_crash_wheelchair_S1E15.png&gt;.

Karnes, Jake. Personal interview. 10 Nov, 2011.

Nichol, Allison J. “U.S. Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act.”ADA Home Page – Ada.gov – Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act. U.S. Department of Justice, 26 Oct. 2011. Web. 08 Nov. 2011.<http://www.ada.gov/&gt;.

Richie, Josh. Personal interview. 29 Nov, 2011.