Addressing access

Accessibility audit finds flaws on campus

An audit conducted by Ferris seniors on six buildings shows some services are not up to date with Americans with Disabilities Act Standards. Photo by: Megell Strayhorn | Torch Photographer

An audit done by Ferris seniors show many areas of campus are not up to the accessibility standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). 

The audit, which was performed by nine facility management seniors, focused on six different buildings on Ferris’ campus: Business, the Rock Café, Starr, Swan, Johnson Hall and the Ewigleben Sports Complex. 

Ferris program coordinator and professor for the architecture and facility management program Diane Nagelkirk helped oversee the audit process and said that, of the six buildings, the biggest issues were with Business and Ewigleben. 

“There are numerous level changes in Wink arena that need to be fixed. Ramps that have been installed to address these level changes are not in compliance with ADA. In addition, the lower level of Wink is not accessible via an interior elevator and exterior access to the lower level and non-compliant and potentially dangerous,” Nagelkirk said. “Many of the Business building issues such as door knobs could be easily and quickly fixed but the auditorium presents limitations for access and would be a major cost to renovate—but we feel it is very necessary and should be high on the list.” 

Issues ranged from doors being too hard to open to problems with the slopes of ramps and wheelchair accessibility. In Ewigleben, access to goods and services did not meet ADA standards in 26 percent of the areas examined. In Business, 31 percent of areas examined for approach and entrance failed to meet ADA standards. For the additional access to the building, there was a 64 percent fail rate. 

“To find out some entrances only have one of the three qualifications to pass for ADA standards blew me away,” Ferris business administrations sophomore Spencer Sucharski said. “I think Ferris should get the entrances up to standards. I mean, if they can only audit six out of the 90 buildings, they can at least start somewhere.” 

While there is no certainty that this audit will cause Ferris to update areas that didn’t meet code, Nagelkirk is hopeful it will influence change. 

“We would hope to see those changes made in the near future. More complex problems will likely occur in years to come in that they require more time in terms of planning and resources,” Nagelkirk said. 

Some of the more minor and easily fixable issues include signs with poor contrast and that lack braille. More major issues, like wheelchair accessibility in the Business auditorium, which has no ramp to allow for movement throughout the room, could mean major renovations. 

One proposal for Ewigleben includes removing doors and even sections of walls to create new entrances. Overall, proposed changes to the sports arena alone totaled more than $57,000. 

As of now, despite only a small fraction of Ferris’ buildings being audited, there are no plans for additional audits. However, Nagelkirk said that this is something they would consider doing again in the future.

Click here for more from the Torch’s News section.