uOttawa Campus Accessibility Map

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

symbol of a blind person beside a location icon

For a long time now the University of Ottawa has been struggling with the question of accessibility. It's tough you know. On the physical side of things, there are some really old buildings to contend with. If you take an old building like Tabaret and try to modernize it, you quickly run into more problems (aesthetics, design, structure). An old elevator need to be expanded, counters in the washrooms need to be lowered, and water fountains need to be modified. It is an expensive process.

On the mentality side of things, people are forgetful and neglect that there are people who are differently-abled. For example, bulletin boards are still placed a little too high for people in wheel chairs, making the signs almost impossible to read. Sandwhich boards are placed in the middle of the sidewalk (not cool for people who are visually impaired). And videos are made with no descriptive text underneath them. Incidentally, have you tried to use a text reader on a page that isn't optimized for accessibility? It is really tough.

Okay, this isn't the most most beautifully crafted post I had ever done. If anything it is clumsy and I am a little unfocused. I guess what I am trying to say is I am sorry. I really should take more time to reflect on this stuff and I am sorry for that. Theses are important issues and if we are going to be a sustainable institution we have to take them head on.

So in honour of this idea, we would like to present to you our accessibility map for the University of Ottawa. Let me be upfront, this is not a comprehensive map. It does not identify indoor spaces. It does not identify every accessibility issue on campus. But it is about time that we have something out there. We decided to go with a "Green Map" format because it allows people can add there own suggestions and it allows us to quickly update and evolve the map.

Here is a quick run down of some of the features:
  • Accessible parking - there are wheelchair accessible spaces available
  • Accessible doors - the door has an automatic opening mechanism
  • Curb cuts - dips in the curb so that you can mount sidewalks easily
We also took the opposite side of things and listed some inaccessible things too:
  • Inaccessible doors - no automatic door opening mechanism
  • Stairs - no elevators or ramps
  • Inaccessible service - does not have accessible counters and/or washrooms
A big thanks goes out to Merissa (our sustainability coordinator) and Nivedh (our volunteer summer student). Without them this would not have gotten done at all.

Please take a look at this map and pass it along to your friends. We need as many comments as possible to make this map work.If you notice something missing, tell us. If you notice something is out of place, tell us. If you have something you want added, please please tell us. You can send me an email at sustainable@uottawa.ca. Thanks

~ jON - campus sustainability coordinator
photo credit - jonathan rausseo 

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