Facilities and services for students with physical disabilities have dramatically improved at Juniata over the past couple of years; however as the Senior Class Gift Campaign 2010 points, out we still have a long way to go. This year’s graduating class is giving the gift of accessibility to the heart of Juniata’s campus—Ellis Hall. This project is developed into three phases geared at making Ellis Hall more accessible to everyone. I interviewed Chad Herzog, an expert on accessibility at Juniata, to find out more.
What are the challenges with campus accessibility?
Accessibility is a challenge everywhere, but even more so on a campus where the buildings are older than 10 years. At Juniata especially, the elevation changes make it difficult for building accommodations such as ramps. Also, the weather here makes accessibility an issue. Winters with a lot of snow and ice make it more dangerous for everyone, especially those who have limited mobility.
What is the current status on campus?
We have a lot we can be doing to improve. Technology has made accessibility on campus easier to achieve – for example, the automatic door openers. However, accessibility can be very costly, so it will take gradual changes to be where we want to be. It is important to realize that we have come a long way, considering where we started.
What would you like to see done?
I think we need to focus on specific needs, rather than specific buildings the campus as a whole should be focused on. Although accessibility can be expensive, there are a lot of little things we can do to gradually improve and make life easier for everyone. After all, accessibility benefits everyone.
Do you think accessibility has an influence on student enrollment at Juniata?
I don’t think it has a huge influence. The great thing about this campus is that it is small so that everything is relatively close, versus a big campus. Students with special access needs have come to Juniata and have done very well. These students have helped to point out what we need to focus on and what needs to be improved. I think that powered wheel chairs have helped to make it easier for students to do well here.
-Liz Roberts ’10, Juniata Online Journalist