When a blind Fresno State student, Jordan Fitzpatrick, first informed the administration of the lack of braille signage in the social sciences building, he was told the project would be completed by early March 2020.
Fitzpatrick’s request was granted two years later after numerous email exchanges and committee meetings.
“Without braille it was really hard for me to find my class, and I brought it up when I first noticed it and it was so hard to get someone to make changes, c So that’s kind of what inspired me to try to find out if there were other buildings that had issues,” Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick, who goes through him and them, worked with his social work peers 222 to inspect 76 buildings on campus. Buildings were checked for braille signage on all floors, elevator access, automatic doors, and ramp access where there were stairs at the entrance.
The report, titled “Accessibility Barriers on the Campus of California State University, Fresno,” found that more than half of the buildings inspected had not been updated to address accessibility issues. accessibility.
Of the buildings inspected, 39% had no Braille signage, 38% of multi-storey buildings had no elevator, 61% had no automatic doors or buttons, and 34% had stairs with the entrance. without access ramp. The report focused on the impact of these accessibility issues on student education.
“These are really important things that can make it difficult for a student to just be a student on campus and navigate it safely. It’s hard enough being a student without worrying about that added stress,” Fitzpatrick said.
The report focused on student concerns, but many of the same issues mentioned were noticed by staff and faculty.
Professor Andrew Jones, who works primarily in the social sciences building on campus, described the building as “very problematic” due to elevator access to the second floor being in a separate building, McKee-Fisk.
Jones said he had many students with mobility aids who were late for or missed class on the second floor of either building when the elevator broke down. He himself has a disability that makes it difficult to maneuver stairs, and he is also hampered by the lack of elevators.
He also noticed vandalism to property for students with disabilities in the building.
“In some of the classrooms where I teach, desks and chairs reserved for students with physical disabilities have been vandalized or hidden. Obviously, not everyone at Fresno State welcomes students who need accommodations for physical disabilities. Such actions would make students who need these assets in the classroom feel like they don’t belong at the university, and therefore have a negative effect on their ability to learn and participate in their classes,” he said. -he declares.
Fitzpatrick presented the report to President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator Kirsten Corey, and other campus staff and faculty, and included a list of recommendations for Campus accessibility updates based on inspection results.
Accordingly, the campus will engage SZS Engineering Access, Inc. to update the campus ADA Accessibility Master Plan.
According to University Communications Public Information Manager Lisa Bell, the plan will provide a “comprehensive assessment of campus facilities,” which will include athletic facilities and the farm lab. This will be an update of the 2015 assessment that was also completed by SZS Engineering Access, Inc., and will be completed in three phases.
A total of 36 academic buildings, 15 sports and agricultural buildings, and 17 student service buildings will be inspected during the three phases. The first phase, which will inspect 15 university buildings, will be completed by the end of the fall semester 2022.
Completion of the plan “will recommend the highest priority projects with estimated total project costs” and will be used to “support future CSU capital funding requests,” according to Bell.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the State of Fresno is a Title II entity required to develop a remediation plan to comply with the ADA within a specified time frame. The work done with SZS Engineering will meet this requirement.
Professor Katherine Fobear, who previously worked with Fitzpatrick to advocate for gender-affirming care on campus and complete a report on LGBTQ2+ housing, said she hopes the updated accessibility blueprint for the ADA will be an “invitation to further dialogue” with students, staff and faculty about accessibility on campus and preventing further experiments like Fitzpatrick’s.
“I hope there will be more transparency in the future and ways to get involved. The difficulties Jordan has had in defending himself and others in similar situations should never happen. There are many work to do and only by bringing diverse voices together can we achieve our goal of inclusiveness and accessibility,” said Fobear.
Currently, students who have accessibility issues can contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), while faculty and staff can contact the university’s human resources and the ADA coordinator.
“These departments identify accommodation through program access and then work with the appropriate areas such as facilities management or public safety to resolve any physical accessibility issues and also help support any accommodations,” a said Bell.
Students, staff, and faculty who wish to learn more about accessibility issues on campus and follow the work of SZS Engineering can also attend meetings of the President’s Commission on Disability and Access (PCDA). SZS Engineering director Syroun Sanossian and her team will attend an upcoming meeting to provide an overview and status of the plan, according to Bell.
Fitzpatrick is glad their work is raising awareness of the issue and said Fresno State now has the opportunity “to move beyond [meeting minimum ADA requirements] and truly be a beacon of accessibility.
“I hope the campus makes some on-campus improvements soon, because the ADA has been in effect since 1990 and it’s long overdue for these updates. Everyone deserves to be able to experience Fresno State without accessibility issues,” Fitzpatrick said.