Our group chose to assess the University Hall Lobby for this accessibility audit assignment. We chose this space because of the unique architectural design and the rich history the first building on Ohio State’s campus. University Hall was constructed in the year 1874, but was demolished in 1971. Five years after being torn down, it was then rebuilt and modernized in the year 1976.
What does “accessible” mean?
When an environment can be used by everyone, regardless of physical, mental, cognitive, visual or hearing ability, then it is accessible.
University Hall does a great job at labeling room numbers and locations with not only visual letters and numbers, but also Braille to support those with visual disabilities.
All of the hallways are wide making it easy to navigate. The halls could contain small crowds of 15-20 people at one time without being too close to others. People could stand side by side with ease.
Before you reach the stalls and sinks, you have to go down a small hallway and then turn. Unfortunately, the restrooms in University Hall has furniture making it challenging to make the turn in to the main restroom area if you are using a wheelchair.
In order to access the main doors, you have to climb up a small set of stairs. For those who are unable to use the stairs, a handicap sign is posted on the door with an arrow directing you to the accessible entrance. The door is a few feet back from the bottom of the stairs, so if you were visually impaired, it would be hard, if not impossible, to see. The path to the wheelchair entrance is uneven and riddled with cracks. The patio also leads to a door on the back right portion of the building. Unfortunately, it is not until you reach the door that you realize that there is a small step to get to the door and enter the building. This door also has a handicap sign posted indicating that you need to continue going around the building to utilize the accessible entrance. Once you reach the back left portion of the building, you will find the accessible entrance. It would be quicker get to this entrance if you went around the right side of the building but, the route is blocked by construction of the sidewalk and multiple bike racks. Ironically, on the construction barrier (which is facing Annie and John Glenn Ave) there is a handicap sign that instructs those with a mobility device to weave through the bike racks which are not wide enough to fit a wheelchair between.
Recommendations for Improvement of Space:
The concrete surfaces surrounding the building are cracked and extremely un-level making it hard to maneuver around the space to the SINGLE wheelchair accessible entrance. Leveling/smoothing out the surfaces and replacing stairs to entrances with ramps allows for more universal access and movement around/in the building. Most doors are heavy and difficult to open, so having automatic entrances to hallways, classrooms, offices, bathrooms etc. would make University Hall more inviting.
Recommendations for Utilizing the Space
For those who currently utilize University Hall, we have some helpful hints. The wheelchair accessible entrance is located on Annie and John Glenn Avenue. Therefore, it is easier to access the building coming from north campus versus The Oval. The elevators are located in the main lobby of the building and bathrooms are placed on opposite wings of the foyer. There is an emergency assistance panel located in the hallway off the lobby.