UBC Graduate Research

Identifying and Addressing Accessibility Priorities: An Ongoing Institutional Process Brown, Christa; Thomas, Sarah


The University of British Columbia has been progressively working for at least two decades towards access improvement projects on campus. The recent Campus Plan (2010), which incorporates Universal Design Principles into all new construction and renovation projects, in conjunction with hosting the 2010 Paralympics, ushered in a “new era” with a clear focus on continued enhancement of accessibility at UBC. Since then, there has been significant improvement in the public realm as well as in buildings to, for example, provide multiple accessible route options to people with physical disabilities. A decentralized University structure has allowed for heightened awareness and has increased the profile of issues related to accessibility on campus. The biggest barrier to addressing existing deficiencies is a lack of adequate funding to make improvements. However, staff have been very creative in leveraging opportunities whenever they arise. Since a number of accessibility deficiencies continue to exist, it would be useful to have a way of communicating out the progress that has been made and any future plans for addressing outstanding issues. It would also be valuable to have a structured way for members of the university community to relay information about accessibility deficiencies as they arise. Temporary barriers, such as construction, and temporary disabilities pose specific challenges that should also be addressed through improved communication and education. This builds upon the recent decentralization of facilities management, which has improved relationships with building users. Overall, university staff have been creative in moving forward with the accessibility improvements in light of a tight fiscal environment.

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