By VICKY SANTOS
Published November 7, 2023
Navigating campus has just gotten a little easier, thanks to a collaboration between the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (DEI) and University Facilities Design and Construction.
A new webpage on the Accessibility at UB website provides details about accessible parking for all buildings on all three UB campuses, paths to barrier-free building entrances, photos of parking lots and building entrances, and maps with the shortest routes indicated.
“Having this information available is necessary from a practical standpoint for people who need accessible routes,” says Sharon Nolan-Weiss, EDI director.
The initiative, started in 2019, was delayed due to COVID; it resumed in 2022.
“We recognize that UB is a large and complex place, and it is not always obvious to someone with a mobility impairment where they should park and enter buildings. In particular, locating the shortest route to accessible entrances can be difficult for visitors or others who are new to the campus or a part of campus,” Nolan-Weiss says.
She says Ron Van Splunder, manager of architectural support and senior architect, and Bruce Stisser, instructional support associate, worked to identify and map accessible parking spots and the shortest routes to entrances for each building.
Stisser says the importance of accessibility became particularly clear to him after his wife began using a wheelchair due to a long-term health condition. “This project hit very close to home for me, so I was very excited to be part of such an important program.”
The group collected information about automatic doors and ramps for the webpage, too.
“In creating the accessible routes webpage, it was important that the information be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including people with visual impairments,” Nolan-Weiss explains. “This required us to develop written directions, in addition to the maps of each space, to ensure that they could be accessed by someone using a screen reader. Developing this narrative for each building on campus took time and effort, but we feel the end result is worthwhile.”
In addition to written directions, the group also took photographs of the parking areas, routes and entrances to make wayfinding easier, which facilitates ease of use for all potential visitors to UB.
The accessible route content is being shared through UB’s content management system (UBCMS) so that departments can choose to incorporate the information on their webpages. Authors can find the content in the UBCMS shared content directory at Accessibility > Accessible Routes; EDI can assist with questions about accessing the content.
Nolan-Weiss notes that anyone who hosts events on campus may also wish to use this resource to provide information to attendees about the best way to access campus buildings.
“We hope that departments will consider incorporating or linking to this information whenever they are providing directions to campus for conferences or special events,” she says. “Even just visiting UB can be daunting, particularly for prospective students and their families, and applicants for employment. Having this information available promotes inclusion by sending a clear message that UB prioritizes accessibility.”
For more information, contact EDI at (716) 645-2266 or firstname.lastname@example.org.