An Accessible Campus

The King’s Student Union is taking steps towards providing better accessibility to students with disabilities on campus.
Every year, the KSU hires a union hired position (UHP). The UHP holds the job for one year, and is tasked to undertake a certain project to help the campus. In the past, these projects have centred around mental health, sustainability, and other practical things to look at on campus.
This year, the UHP is focusing on consulting students on accessibility needs on campus. According to KSU president Levi Clarkson, this primary objective is finding out from students how the KSU is doing, what issues they should be advocating for, and how they can change to meet more students needs.
The KSU brought the idea to council, who voted in favour of it. Then, the KSU elected students for a three-student hiring committee.
“With the hiring committee, as well as with the position, we were obviously prioritizing students with disabilities,” Clarkson said.
The UHP will be in charge of creating their own schedule and deadlines. By the end of the semester, they will be expected to have gathered enough information on students needs for the KSU to be able to move forward with recommendations on actions for the university to take.
King’s has faced criticism in the past for its inaccessibility.
“In terms of physical accessibility, the campus is not physically accessible,” Clarkson said. “The university has kind of acknowledged that, for instance, Alex Hall needs to become fully accessible.”
In April 2017, Nova Scotia legislature passed the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act, which aims to make the province fully inclusive and accessible by 2030.
To meet these standards, King’s will have to make more of its residences accessible to those with physical disabilities.
“Because of that, [the university] is kind of hoping that they’ll be able to get more provincial funding for that, because it is the province that has mandated them to do that,” Clarkson explained. “So that’s one of the reasons they’re doing the tri-bays restoration first.”
However, the renovation to the Bay dorms won’t make them accessible, since the university is planning on keeping the stairs.
“But their reasons for doing that first instead of Alex Hall is A: they’ve already got a floor plan for the Tri Bays restoration, so that work had been done and passed to the board of governors before this year…” Clarkson said. “So now it’s a question of the timeline for Alex Hall.”
Clarkson said that for the KSU, it is very important to make sure to centre the conversation around people with disabilities moving forward, and believes that the UHP will help connect the needs of the students with the KSU and the university moving forward.

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