FROM THE CHANCELLOR
In the interest of fostering discussion on current campus topics, I'd like to share the following message from Howard Kramer, chair of the Chancellor's Committee on Program Accessibility.
Accessibility on Campus - Past and Present
History and Background
For those not familiar with its activities, the Chancellor's Committee on Program Accessibility—also known simply as the Program Accessibility Committee (PAC)—was formed shortly following passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. The PAC committee assists the Boulder campus administration and the ADA coordinator to promote and maintain university compliance with ADA guidelines. Specifically, this means that persons with disabilities are afforded access to programs, services, and activities offered by the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Since enactment of the ADA, and due to generous funding by the state legislature from 1993-2000, the campus has made tremendous progress in improving physical access to campus buildings. During the 1993–2000 time frame, the campus spent over $13 million, most of it state funding, to make general fund buildings accessible. These funds have been used for everything from installation of elevators to curb cuts, ramps and ADA required directional signage. As a result, nearly all of the academic buildings and most of the auxiliary buildings on campus meet or exceed the requirements of the ADA.
Perhaps one of the more recent and noticeable renovations that occurred on campus has been the Mainstage Theatre renovation that was completed during the summer of 2004. This project placed wheelchair accessible seating at the back of the theatre. Though this renovation dramatically improved wheelchair access, additional construction will be required in the future to make the theatre fully accessible and compliant with federal regulations. ADA guidelines stipulate an accessible path of travel to wheelchair accessible seating. Because of the significantly uneven grade of the walkway by the accessible entrance to the theatre, wheelchair users require personal assistance to reach the seats at the rear of the theatre. An elevator will be installed in the future to allow both wheelchair access to the accessible seating and to the box office located in the lower level.
Since its inception, and even in the past few years, PAC has addressed a wide range of issues in the area of physical and programmatic access. In the last few years, the committee has also added access to electronic resources to the scope of its mission. During the past academic year, we worked on a number of pressing issues, including: accessible parking, elevator reliability, Web accessibility and ongoing funding for ADA compliance.
On a campus such as ours, where there is frequent expansion and construction, along with increased enrollment and traffic congestion, parking in general can be problematic. However, for those who require "accessible parking" (often known by its less PC label: "handicapped parking"), choices are much more limited. Though it may be an inconvenience for most of us to park a distance from our office or classroom due to parking lot closures or overflow, for a person using a wheelchair or with a mobility impairment, this may not be a feasible option at all.
To illustrate this problem, during construction of the ATLAS building it was necessary to remove four accessible spaces from in front of the new building. PAC, with input from faculty, staff and student users of accessible parking, worked with Parking Services to determine the best location to relocate the lost spaces. Due to issues such as grading, wheelchair and door clearance (all stipulated in ADA guidelines), it was determined that the area in front of Ketchum was the best location for the relocation. As a result, four accessible spaces were added in front of Ketchum in May. PAC is also collaborating with Parking Services to add another accessible space near the Eaton Humanities building and to determine the best strategies for meeting the needs of the mobility impaired community on the Boulder campus.
Continuing Funding for Renovations
As mentioned above, another issue that the committee has tried to address over the last few months is the problem of funding ADA related renovations. With the end of state support for ADA renovation in 2000 and the significant drop in state funding in general since 2000, ADA and accessibility related projects have had to compete with many other worthy and essential programs and projects to obtain funding from a diminishing pool of resources.
As a result, the funds have not always been available for projects that would increase the accessibility of various buildings on campus. The need to wait to complete the theatre renovation is one such example. PAC, as a result, is working with the administration to obtain a more reliable source of funding for ADA related projects.
To learn more about the activities of PAC, including efforts to make electronic resources on campus more accessible, visit our Web page to access meeting minutes and other resources. If you are interested in serving on the committee or providing feedback, contact Howard Kramer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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