As reported the Catalyst in 2007, Colorado College was randomly selected by the Justice Department amongst other institutions to undergo a compliance review with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Thus began a five-year mission towards making the college more accessible to the public that never really ended.
In fact, Colorado College was one of the few schools chosen for this sort of review, among Reed College, Pace University, Chatham University, and Swarthmore College. Prompted not by complaint, but rather by chance, this compliance review consisted of thorough examination of all facilities that pertain to the college.
Once this was completed with attorneys on both ends, the college signed a settlement agreement with the Justice Department.
Within the settlement agreement, it was noted that the college had numerous violations, including: “inaccessible cross slopes; inaccessible ramp and stair handrails; inaccessible dormitory rooms and toilet rooms; inaccessible showers; toilet seats that are too high; toilets not centered at 18″ from the side wall…”
Upon addressing all issues, it was time for Colorado College to take action. Colorado College mapped out their each and every step, leading them to their completion of compliance in 2012.
Although previous Catalyst reports in 2007 claimed that a “few targeted spots” would be altered, it took the school to a new level of barrier-breaking to reach its desired point of accessibility. With more renovation of buildings such as Mathias and Slocum came innumerable blueprints that had to be drawn out in order to maintain excellence.
“The college developed a physical access plan that addressed, among other things, the accessibility of buildings, paths of travel, assistive listening devices, parking, and signage,” said Jan Edwards, Director of Disability Services and ADA coordinator. “The college believes that we have responded appropriately.”
Whenever events are hosted, coordinators are required to offer accommodations to all participants and attendees; if any are requested, each must be filled in order for the event to happen.
This coincides with Jan Edward’s dreams outlined in a previous reporting where she stated that her hopes were that, “In the next several years, any person would be able to come onto our campus and attend any program or event, visit any facility, and take part in any aspect of campus without first having to ask ‘Can I get there?’”
“Colorado College provides accessibility for individuals who experience a variety of disabilities. Examples of accessible features on campus include but are not limited to: accessible ramps and entrances to buildings, accessible bathrooms, assistive listening devices in major venues, visual fire alarms, accessible seating in assembly spaces, and signage with raised and Braille characters,” said Edwards.
According to the college’s Disability Services, not only are physical accommodations being provided for all, but also for “learning disabilities, ADHD, chronic health conditions, traumatic brain injuries, mobility impairments and other physical disabilities, psychological disorders, visual impairments, and hearing impairments.”
As Colorado College continues to expand its campus and remodel, the removal of barriers and addition of accessibility remains a priority. As Jan Edwards herself said, the efforts to make the institution as accessible as possible will have to go much farther than the five-year plan once set forth – in fact, it is a day-by-day effort.
The college sees itself going to no ends to excel in providing the greatest Disability Services for faculty, staff, students, and the public.
“Disability Services collaborates with the college community to ensure that all aspects of campus life are accessible, equitable, and inclusive for people who experience disabilities,” said Jan Edwards.