From the archives, March 8, 1985: ‘Handicapped access needs work at UAF’

Doug Schneider / Sun Star

Access for the handicapped at UAF has been greatly improved in recent years, but deficiencies still exist.

Mike Salzman, a UAF student who has used a wheelchair since a childhood accident, is displeased with the quality of access to buildings and facilities on the Fairbanks campus.

“There are a lot of minor problems that they (the administration) are not aware of,” Salzman said.

Salzman claims that the upper floors of the Eielson Building are not accessible through the elevator in Signer’s Hall because of the concrete curbs at the Eielson entrances to Signer’s Hall.

The university’s solution to the problem of inaccessibility to the Duckering Building’s second floor bathroom was the removal of a door on a stall, the installation of a ramp and the hanging of a shower curtain for privacy, according to Salzman. He called this solution, “jury rigged.”

The Gruening Building’s bathrooms are also not accessible to the handicapped because of the position of the doors and door jambs. If the doors and jambs were removed, the bathrooms would be accessible, Salzman said.

Salzman said there are also problems with the elevators. The elevator in Bunnel [sic] Building rarely functions correctly and the Duckering Building elevator is too small, he said.

Terri Yeley, an administrative assistant with the university Employee Relations/Affirmative Action Office, feel that access to the university buildings and facilities is very easy.

Terri, who is confined to a wheelchair, believes the university has been “very cooperative” in efforts to make the campus more easily and safely accessible.

Even the pool at the Patty Building is accessible to handicapped people via a special chair lift that can lower a person into the pool, recreation officials said.

Campus housing has also seen improvements in handicapped access and facilities in recent years, according to Eric Jozwiak, housing officer.

The upper campus (Moore, Bartlett and Skarland Halls) is equipped with ramps and specially designed rooms because, Jozwiak said, “The wide doors and hallways lent themselves to development for the handicapped.”

Skarland Hall contains two units to serve the needs of handicapped students. They are located near the first floor lounge and are furnished with specially designed sleeping quarters and restrooms.

The Student Apartment Complex (SAC) also provides housing for the handicapped, Jozwiak said.

At present, there are six units of SAC available to the handicapped, though Jozwiak said none are currently occupied by people with disabilities.

There remains, however, some buildings with either limited access or no access to handicapped or disabled people.

A feasibility study on the Chapman Building resulted in plans for the installation of an elevator, bathroom facilities and entryway for the handicapped, according to Jerry Newbert of the university’s Facilities and Planning Department.

This project may be cancelled because of recent cuts in the university’s budget.

A chair lift in Constitution Hall has been certified by state elevator inspectors as functional, according to George Riley, Health and Safety Officer. However, it will not be available for public use until a longer seat belt is installed and the on ramp made wider. A larger platform is also planned for the lift which will make it easier to maneuver larger wheelchairs, Riley said.

The lower dorms, including Wickersham, MacIntosh, Nerland, Stevens and Lathrop Halls are not suitable for access by the severely handicapped, according to Jozwiak. “The doors are not wide enough and ramps would extend into existing walkways,” he said. Jozwiak also said that the structure of the buildings does not lend itself to installation of interior ramps and lifts.

Plans are being made to expand housing and facility access for the handicapped to meet federal regulation as soon as state funds become available, Jozwiak said.

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