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Berkeleyan

An uphill boost for disabled students
Comprehensive campus access guide, golf-cart transit service are among improvements announced

| 06 September 2006

In fulfilling the first elements of a comprehensive plan to improve access for disabled students, the campus has made life easier not only for them but for others who navigate its roadways, paths, stairs, and hallways.

This broader benefit will continue as further elements of the plan, mandated by a class-action settlement last year in the case of Gustafson v. Regents, are developed and implemented, says Sarah Hawthorne, assistant provost for academic compliance and disability standards.

The first two elements of the plan, announced last week in accordance with a court-ordered timetable, are a detailed Campus Access Guide (available in print, Braille, and online formats) and a new, individualized golf-cart service to help students with mobility disabilities get around the campus. Additional elements - some still in the development stage, others that have already been implemented, in some instances ahead of schedule - include accessibility improvements to major campus roads and pathways, the issuing of timely updates indicating the impact on accessibility of construction and renovation projects, the placement of outdoor campus-access locator maps, and the provision of specially designed safety equipment to every campus building, for use during evacuations, drills, and other emergencies during which disabled students may require assistance.

The new Campus Access Guide (acads.chance.berkeley.edu/CAG) is available not only online but in a condensed "tote bag" version suitable for printing and carrying around. The guide, particularly in its full, online version, includes a wealth of information of interest primarily to the disabled campus population - ranging from the URL of a website listing local wheelchair-repair vendors to a detailed list of accessible features in campus buildings. For example, a student wanting to know about access to a particular building can not only learn the location of accessible restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains within the building, but can view detailed maps (in color and black-and-white) that show the building's entryways, nearby curb cuts and parking lots (down to the individual-space level, with accompanying photo and slope data) and bone up on emergency data of special relevance to the disabled. Information about every classroom on campus is included as well, including number and location of doorways, number of wheelchair stations, and the like. (Room information of more general interest is also provided, such as lighting type, number of electrical outlets, number and dimension of chalkboards, location of A/V controls, etc.)

Information designed to assist disabled students in navigating between Point A and Point B may also prove useful to the general campus community. For example, the map that shows a suggested path of travel bypassing the construction site for the new Davis Hall - and pointing out the barriers that frustrate pedestrians as well as wheelchair users - will be welcomed by all who traverse the campus's northeast quadrant. Another map (viewable online in PDF format, and both downloadable and printable) shows the approximate slope of every road and pathway on campus, classifying each as anywhere from "easy" (0-2 percent slope) to "impassable" (14.1-100 percent).

Hard copies of the "tote bag" version of the Campus Access Guide are available at the Disabled Students Program (DSP) office and from the Disability Resolution Officer in California Hall.

The newly introduced golf-cart system (informally called "The Loop") permits students with permanent or temporary disabilities to be picked up at a number of central-campus locations and dropped off near their destination, along a pre-set route. The service, to be provided to students registered with the Disabled Students Program, will operate between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Details are at loop.berkeley.edu.