Apr 28, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
As a leading research institution, Georgia Tech is committed to a physical and academic environment that offers inclusivity and accessibility for all its 32,000 students, faculty, and staff.
“Like any organization, Georgia Tech is only as good as its people. It benefits us to do the right thing and make this campus as accessible as possible to attract and retain the best-of-the-best in terms of students, faculty, and staff,” said Burns Newsome, director of Compliance Programs. “By identifying and addressing the accessibility challenges on campus in a logical and timely manner, the Institute can provide an exceptional campus user experience.”
Removing barriers for access on a college campus the size of Georgia Tech — which spans 400 acres and has 197 buildings — requires thoughtful planning and significant resources. To maximize accessibility with regard to both infrastructure and programming, the Institute embarked upon an American with Disabilities Act (ADA) Assessment Plan two years ago in partnership with the Institute for Human Centered Design.
In addition to identifying obvious accessibility challenges such as curbs and elevators, the plan also looked at overall usability.
“You don’t have to have a defined disability to benefit from programs and facilities that are just easier to use,” said Denise Johnson-Marshall, ADA coordinator. “The goal with the assessment and future action plan will make the campus user-friendly for all faculty, staff, students, and visitors.”
To conduct an assessment of this magnitude, the Institute for Human Centered Design collaborated and coordinated with several campus entities, including Capital Planning & Space Management, Office of Institute Diversity, Compliance Programs, Office of Disability Services, and the President’s Committee on Disabilities and Access.
In addition to assessing building infrastructure and Georgia Tech’s range of parking and transportation options, the study also assessed the 10 most visited websites, as well as programs, signage (including wayfinding), and graphics. Looking ahead, it also reviewed building projects that are in design, including the Price Gilbert Library/Crosland Towers, Chapin Building accessible ramp, and French Building ramp.
The study provided an assessment of where the Institute needs to provide Assistive Listening Systems and made equipment recommendations. Finally, the consultants, provided a review of the campus Yellow Book, housed in Facilities Management, with recommendations for future compliance changes.
Some of the recommendations, such as door-width adjustments and placement of signage, are already being addressed across campus. An Office of Compliance Programs has been created over the past year and a director and ADA compliance officer have been on-boarded.
“The creation of the Office of Compliance Programs as well as the investment in resources – both people and informational – really speaks to the Institute’s commitment to making this campus as inclusive as possible,” Johnson-Marshall said. “Now we just need the community to help guide these efforts.”
Next Step: Submit Your Comments
The next step is to garner comments from the campus community and use this feedback to create a campus priority list and associated 10-year ADA Transition Plan.
All campus community members are encouraged to submit their comments on buildings and other campus areas that would benefit from accessibility improvements.
To view the summary documents, and learn more about the ADA Assessment Plan, including how to submit your comments, visit the ADA Accessibility at Georgia Tech webpage. All inquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.