We chose to do our accessibility audit on the lobby of Busch House, one of the many new residence halls built in 2016 on North Campus at The Ohio State University. We focused on the lobby and bathrooms on the first floor. A general description of this space would be that it is a large U-shaped room, with large windows throughout the space. The lobby is lit with fluorescent light bulbs, but also a large amount of natural sunlight. The space is a common area in the residence hall and is used to study, relax, pick up packages, and use the restroom.  The two main entrances to the space are double-doors on either side of the lobby. The space contains two single bathrooms that are labeled as handicap restrooms.

What is accessibility? A space is accessible when is is able to accommodate everyone regardless of physical, mental, visual, and hearing impairments and easily allow them to participate in day-to-day activities.

Accessible Features

The picture on the left is showing the automatic door opener with the handicapped symbol on it that is on a post outside of the dorm. The picture on the right is showing the tall entrance doors which have glass panels throughout the middle. Photo credit: Jordan Whealdon
  • Entrances: The walkway to the entrance doors do not have any ramps or stairs, but it is a flat entryway connected to the sidewalks outside of the building. The entrance doors have automatic door openers with the handicapped logo on them, which allows someone in a wheelchair, on crutches, or with a physical impairment to open the door. Also, the door handles are about three feet off the ground, which is an appropriate height for accessible door handles.
The picture on the left is showing a black sign on a tan wall that says “140M” and the sign also shows braille beneath the numbers. The picture on the right is showing the wood front desk that is divided into a higher and a lower section. Photo credit: Jordan Whealdon
  • Lobby: Upon entering, the space is generally large and open without any barriers or hallways. The elevators are easily accessed from the main lobby area, without having to go down any narrow hallways. There are also parts of the lobby that are divided by furniture that are labeled with numbers and braille on the signs, which would help those that are visually impaired. Furthermore, the fire alarm system has a flashing mechanism, allowing someone with a hearing impairment to be able to respond. Also, the desk in the lobby provides two sections, one high and one low. The low section of the desk is at an appropriate height for someone in a wheelchair. The purpose of the front desk in a residence hall is to receive packages, give information, and to help out the residents in general.
The picture on the left shows the wood door, a sign that says restroom with a handicapped symbol below. The picture in the middle shows the space under the sink and the soap dispenser. The picture on the right is displaying the handrail and the toilet. Photo credit: Jordan Whealdon
  • Bathrooms: There are two single, gender-neutral restrooms in the lobby that are labeled as handicapped accessible. The space under the sink was large enough for someone in a wheelchair to be able to wash their hands.

Inaccessible Features

  • Bathrooms: We found this area to be the biggest barrier and inaccessible space in the area, even though it is labeled as handicapped accessible. The doors to these handicapped accessible restrooms are very heavy and not easily opened. In addition, they do not have an automatic handicapped button in order to open the doors. Other inaccessible features would be that the toilet was in the corner of the bathroom and only one handrail was provided. Concerning the sink, even though there was space under it for someone in a wheelchair, it was very wide and hard to reach the handles to turn the sink on, as well as reach the soap.

Recommendations:

  • For those maintaining the space and future builders: The doors in this building in general should be made out of a lighter-weight material so that they are easier for everyone  to open. In order to improve the bathrooms, an automatic handicap door opener should be included just like the main entrances. Also, the toilet should be moved out of the corner so that it is more accessible and additional handrails should be provided to increase safety. The sink and soap dispenser could be made automatic in order for it to be easier to wash hands. In addition to making the sink and soap dispenser automatic, the sink should be less wide and the soap dispenser should be moved closer to the front of the sink. Lastly, signage should be improved for the entire building, especially labeling the elevators and restrooms.
  • For those accessing the space: We suggest that individuals should make a conscious plan on how to navigate around the lobby. For those using the restrooms, know in advance that there are no handicapped automatic door openers, that the toilet is in the corner, only one handrail is provided, and the sink and soap dispenser are not easily reachable. In general, the space besides the bathroom is fairly accessible and open for everyone.
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