Accessibility Project – Taylor Small

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The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted in 1990 to ensure that there is equal opportunity and no discrimination towards those with disabilities in the built environment. In many cases, parts of the built environment that were designed and constructed before it was enacted were not equipped to properly serve the disabled community. Instead, sometimes dysfunctional, but to code, retrofitting has been installed in order to meet legal requirements. Unfortunately for the population that relies on ADA every day, these quick fixes are not acceptable. If not educated, individuals often have lower skill sets which in turn reduces their chances of employment. This results in lower incomes across the board. An intimidating or uninviting campus experience for the disabled community becomes deterrent from higher education and personal skill improvement. This is socially unjust and by definition cannot be sustainable. In this project, I have taken a deeper, first-hand look into the poor circulation and functionality of accessibility on the University of New Mexico campus. By touring campus with a friend and mentor who relies on the use of wheelchair accessibility, I have created a new map that both highlights the problems our campus has and serves as a more up to date, honest version of the current (from 2009) map that the Accessibility Resource Center has published. This map has been proposed to the creators of previous versions, as well as university stakeholders to show the potential that our campus has to become a more welcoming, and universally designed place for the disabled community to gain a quality education.

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