Braille labeling is being considered for vending machines across campuses.
By Kimberly Caballero
The Alamo Colleges continue to show overall improvement in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a slideshow presented at the May 8 board of trustees committee of the whole meeting.
Vanessa Vance, facilities management administrative assistant, presented information on the district’s ADA compliance for students with disabilities.
ADA “provides broad nondiscrimination protection in employment, public services, and public accommodations (including many areas of colleges and universities), for individuals with disabilities,” according to the Higher Education Compliance Alliance website.
The presentation included the district’s ADA yearly work order summaries since 2013 and compliance issues and ways those issues have been or will be resolved.
The presentation showed that between 2014 and 2016, a total of 544 work orders were submitted for the district and its five campuses. There were 92 submissions and 147 work orders completed in 2017.
Common submissions include ADA access buttons requiring too much pressure to open the door and manholes.
ADA-compliant doors with buttons are functioning at a majority of the colleges a majority of the time, Vance said.
The ADA-compliant doors have large buttons to open doors; however, some of the doors have a button with an on-and-off switch at the top of the door which is sometimes switched off, she said.
Strybos listed power surges or being dated as a couple of the reasons on-and-off switches can malfunction.
If buttons on ADA-compliant doors are switched off, access for students with disabilities can be restricted or prevented.
“I would just like to continue to try to educate students in finding the importance of those buttons and their overall need to those of us with disabilities,” she said.
The location of restroom trash receptacles presented an issue because trash receptacles were on a wall far from the toilet, making it difficult for some students with disabilities to reach it.
The issue is in the process of being resolved districtwide by placing receptacles on the same wall as the toilet, Vance said.
The trash receptacles in stalls for people with disabilities are being moved from one side of the stall to the other, said John Strybos, associate vice chancellor of facilities operation and construction management, said in a May 10 interview.
Strybos said all of those receptacles will be moved, but he does not have a date the process will be completed.
“It’s an on-going process. Some are already done, but a lot of them are across the district so it’s just going to take us time to do that.
“We’re doing most that work in-house, so it’s labor that we have on the payroll doing the work,” Strybos said.
Safe travel has improved across all campuses, Vance said.
However, an issue that is still found on campus is manhole or utility covers that are raised too high and can trip up wheelchairs, Vance said.
Some buildings have “floor obstacles due to folding-door tracks or raised/sunken valve covers that present a safe-travel issue for wheelchair users as well as for individuals with visual impairment,” according to the presentation.
These issues are addressed as they are encountered, according to the presentation.
Vance presented a solution for the absence of Braille on vending machine buttons.
“It was brought to my attention that our vending machines do not have Braille on the buttons,” she said. “But my thinking was, vending machines often trade out what’s in them.”
A solution needed to be found that is not “extremely costly,” Vance said.
“There is actually a label maker with Braille type,” she said. “I am working on getting those labels made, again districtwide, so they can be interchanged when items that are available change,” she said.
Strybos said it is about working with college presidents, Vance and the administrative team, along with everyone else who is part of the Alamo Colleges, to decide what mobility issues need to be addressed.
While a specific ADA compliance budget does not exist, all ADA compliance expenses fall under the facilities operational budget.
“For the fiscal year period of September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2018, the total facilities operational budget is $8,877,007,” Strybos said in a May 16 email.
In May 2017 the Alamo Colleges was approved for a $450 million bond package to fund building construction and renovation.
The new construction must be in compliance with ADA, Strybos said.
District’s goal is to exceed compliance, he said.
District 7 trustee Yvonne Katz commented on door hooks in restroom stalls used to hang belongings.
“It is extremely difficult to get into stalls with our purses, our computer bags, and to try to turn around with all the things that are in there and take care of our business,” Katz said.
From the hooks that are placed on stall doors, some of them are missing and some are “so small that you can’t even get one thing hooked up on those,” she said.
Katz proposed current and future hooks on stall doors be larger for computer cases or purses because “it’s really bad putting all that stuff down on the floor.”
To report incidences of facilities being out of ADA-compliance, call 210-485-0111.