Volume 95, Issue 38

Thursday, November 8, 2001
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O-Week money missing

JSU remembers 'night of broken glass'

The world at war

Disabled access still a problem at Western

Students can kiss jobs goodbye

$8.2 million for local science geeks

News Briefs

Disabled access still a problem at Western

By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

While a new provincial act aimed at removing barriers for persons with disabilities had its first reading at Queen's Park on Monday, accessibility is still an issue at Western.

"The [Ontarians with Disabilities Act] is to make the province of Ontario accessible to all Ontarians. It is the most far-reaching and comprehensive disability legislation in Canada," said Mike Campbell, a Ministry of Citizenship spokesperson.

At this stage, it is very difficult to foresee the impact of this act, including whether or not it will have an effect on accessibility at Ontario universities, said Frances Bauer, ombudsperson for Western and a regional contact with the Ontarians with Disabilities Act Committee.

"Students with disabilities are coming to us all the time with [accessibility] concerns. If students are still concerned, then obviously we are not as accessible as we could be," said University Students' Council VP-campus issues Sera Vavala, who is also chair of the Accessibility Development Committee.

The ADC includes representatives from faculty, Western's physical plant and planning department and the USC, funds accessibility projects with a levy of $5.91 collected through student fees.

"The aim [of the ADC] is to spend money towards increasing accessibility on campus," Vavala said.

"Quite often, the ADC is responsible for funding projects that may or may not be in our purview," she said. "To my knowledge, administration does not have one individual who deals solely with accessibility."

New buildings and renovations to older buildings must adhere to legal requirements for accessibility, however, there are no requirements for Western to retrofit old buildings in order to ensure accessibility, said Susan Grindrod, associate VP-housing and ancillary services.

It is almost impossible to make some buildings accessible, for example, Medway and Sydenham halls, she added.

"[Western] is quite committed to accessibility – we are like any organization with 150-year-old buildings, [the buildings] are not the most accessible," she said.

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