College administration and disability support services are working to fix issues caused by campus construction.
By Jakoby West
Changes have been made to the campus this semester to help students’ mobility, such as removing some walkways constructed of bricks.
“I think that the biggest problem with using bricks was that when it rained, we have dirt under it, and they would sort of spread apart and you could easily trip over it or get stuck in it,” Dr. Stella Lovato, vice president of college services, said in an interview Feb.17.
Walkways are now being changed to concrete stamped to look like bricks, allowing for smoother surfaces. This is part of a long-tem project to move away from bricked walkways and install fully stamped concrete on outdoor walkways.
An added benefit of using stamped concrete is that it better complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Vanessa Torres, director of public relations, said in an interview Feb. 17.
Most changes made to Moody Learning Center were in response to being more ADA compliant, Torres said. These changes include the covered canopy leading up to the east side entrance of Moody Learning Center.
“The canopy was for the students because it is a VIA Trans stop. Before, when it was uncovered, if there was inclement weather, they were just out there,” Torres said.
Another of the additions is a ramp leading to the first floor of Moody where the office of disability support services is located.
Disability support services, known as DSS, provide services to students with documented disabilities. Students who use the services often bring up issues to DSS they have seen about accessibility on campus.
“Students will bring issues to our attention, and then, of course, we in turn let our administration know that that has been brought to our attention,” Delia De Luna, senior generalist-student success with disability support services, said in an interview Jan. 30.
The college administration is working to maintain the appropriate signage, planning for issues and making sure students are able to get to their destinations safely despite construction, De Luna said.
College administration is patrolling campus to find out what needs to be done to accommodate for obstructions caused by the construction, Lovato said.
“We’ve been walking around and looking at the different areas that have been indicated to us,” Lovato said.
Administration is also reaching out to groups to get feedback on what needs to be done.
“I’ve met with the Staff Council safety committee in addition to meeting with DSS on an ongoing basis as things come up,” Janae Johnson, coordinator of risk management, said in an interview Feb. 17.
“Any time we become aware of an issue that is access-related, we talk to DSS to make sure they are aware of it so that the student, visitor, faculty member or staff can get the sort of immediate support,” Johnson said.
Although there is no estimated end date of the construction, Lovato and Johnson have been working together to make sure that students can make it to their classes on time and safely, Lovato said.
“When the construction is coming about, that’s one of our first concerns: making sure that we don’t obstruct, making sure that somebody with a disability has a path that they can go, and if not, we’re going to find a path and help them,” Lovato said.
Several construction companies are working on projects around campus and have been helpful in working with administration to accommodate students, Lovato said.
If students encounter an issue on campus, they are encouraged to visit DSS on the first floor of Moody Learning Center or Johnson and Lovato’s office in Room 207 of Moody.