Facilities Department updating historic buildings through renovations

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A few historic buildings on campus no longer meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. Photo courtesy of Joshua McSwain

By Matt Kyle | Personal editor

Although there are a few historic buildings on campus that do not meet current Americans with Disability Act (ADA) standards, Patrick Carley, associate vice president for facilities and operations, said Baylor, as a university, is ADA compliant. Carley said the ADA does not require buildings constructed before the ADA was created to be current code compliant, but the facilities department is working to retrofit those buildings to make them ADA compliant.

Over the years, many students have expressed concerns about accessibility on campus. More than 40 years ago, an article in the Baylor Line The magazine highlighted many of the accessibility issues students face on campus, and last semester one student expressed his frustration in the form of a ICT Tac. In a previous Lariat article, she said she believed Baylor was unaware of the issue.

Carley said addressing accessibility issues and ensuring buildings meet current ADA standards is very important to Baylor.

“As a caring Christian community, we always want to do more,” Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman said. “We continually receive feedback as we work to improve the experience for students, faculty, staff, visitors and other stakeholders who visit our campus and who may require special accommodations.”

As a disabled veteran, Carley said he has a personal affinity for solving these issues and improving accessibility on campus.

Carley said the upcoming renovation of Collins Residence Hall is the next big renovation project. Carley said that when buildings are renovated, facilities look to both address accessibility issues and improve building facilities.

“This summer is the big construction project,” Carley said. “It’s not only going to fix the ADA compliance issues at Collins, it’s going to do a complete renovation inside the utility systems, aesthetics, room upgrades, restrooms. Other projects we have recently completed over the past few years include Memorial Hall, Waco Hall, McCrary Music Hall and the Tidwell Building. A total renovation of the building has been planned for the accessibility needs there.

Whenever the facilities department is looking to do renovations or have a construction project done on a building, they look at what gaps need to be filled, such as adding extra ramps. Carley said the facilities department works with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations to ensure construction projects meet ADA and Texas accessibility standards.

Carley said the facilities department relies on elevator companies to repair campus elevators. When an elevator breaks down, he says the facilities immediately get on with it and contact the repair company, but sometimes the repair companies are already full or need to order the parts needed to fix the elevator, that’s why elevator repairs are sometimes delayed.

Carley said the facilities want to meet the needs of students, faculty and staff and are working with the Office of Access and Learning Accommodations (OALA), Office of Equity and Civil Rights, Office of Title IX and student government to do so. He said he encouraged all students to reach out to OALA if they have any concerns or to contact the Facilities Department if their complaint relates to a facility-related issue.

Freshman Katy, Student Government Accessibility Director Brenna Colihan, said the resources offered by OALA cover a wide range of accommodations for different disabilities. She said students can get physical accommodations that allow them better access to campus, accommodations for developmental and learning disabilities, and even accommodations for severe allergies that can prevent a student from eating in a hall. to eat.

Because the director of accessibility is a new position, Colihan said she’s still trying to figure out her exact role on campus and what her office can do. She said she was working with OALA to figure out how she could help.

Colihan has also worked with Campus Living and Learning (CL&L) to make the process of obtaining housing easier to understand, as well as getting to know people with disabilities better.

“A lot of what I’ve been doing is trying to get to know more people with different types of disabilities personally so that I can kind of understand better what everybody’s going through,” said Colihan said. “I did it by being very open. I am an open book. If anyone has a question, I’ll answer it. »

After learning about the bill to create the position of director of accessibility, Colihan said she immediately emailed the student body president. Having a disability herself, Colihan said it was a subject she was very passionate about and wanted to get involved in any way she could.

Colihan said she hopes to hold that position for the remainder of her time at Baylor. Some of its goals include increasing education and awareness about different disabilities and bringing about needed changes on campus.

“I wanted to help be that path to bring accessibility and disability to the forefront of people’s minds,” Colihan said. “People need to think about that more when we talk about diversity. Diversity includes disability, and we need to know that disability is not a dirty word. Create things like more accessibility training to raise awareness and help create an environment where people really understand disability and want to take the time to help.

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