Introduction 

For our accessibility audit we choose to explore the first floor of the Wexner Center for the Arts. The Wexner Center is an academic building located in Columbus, Ohio on The Ohio State University college campus. This building was constructed in 1989 and renovated in 2005. The Wexner Center for the arts stands at 1871 North High Street which is considered by students to be ‘central campus.’ This building is the only building on the university’s campus strictly devoted to the arts. The Wexner Center houses various arts forms such as performing arts, exhibition art and art portrayals through film and video. This building is centered around creating a cultural environment but has also established a diverse environment in which the building is able to be accessed by a wide range of students including students with disabilities.

Building Entrances 

The first component we explored while at the Wexner Center was the entrances. There are two entrances to this building. There is one entrance located on North High Street (located on east side of building) and another entrance located on North College Road (located on west side of building). Both entrances use a ramp as the method for entering the building instead of stairs.This makes it easier for people with various capabilities to come to the Wexner Center.

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This is an image of the ramp leading up to the High Street entrance. Photo credit: Briauna Cromer

Also, the High Street entrance has a handicap sign located near the door indicating that this is an accessible entrance for those who may have a disability, which means this an entrance that can be used by a person(s) with a disability as a method for entering the building. Although, this handicap sign is kind of misleading because as soon as you enter the building there is a set of stairs making it difficult for those with impaired mobility to go any further into the building.

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This is an image of the stairwell located right inside the door of the High Street entrance. Photo credit: Briauna Cromer
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This is an image of the handicap sign located near the High Street entrance. Photo credit: Briauna Cromer

The entrance located on College Road had manual doors with handles shaped like an “L”. This design element is aesthetically appealing but not functional in terms of accessibility because this design element can it difficult to open the door. Also, the fact that the doors are manual make it difficult for a person with impaired mobility to open the door without assistance. The person with impaired mobility may have difficulty holding the door open for a long period of time or the person may have difficulty opening the door wide enough to allow them to enter. Therefore, these doors are not designed to allow people with various abilities to enter the building.

Restrooms 

The second component we explored while inside the Wexner Center was the bathrooms. The signs for the restrooms defining if the restroom is a men’s restroom or women’s restroom contained braille.This allows those who are blind ensure they are going  into the correct restroom since they cannot see the image or words on the sign.

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This is an image of the women’s restroom sign which shows this restroom is can be used by people with disabilities and the sign contains braille at the bottom. Photo credit: Jamie Warrack

Both the men and women’s restroom contained a handicap stall meaning the stall is large enough to fit a wheelchair. Also, the sinks inside each of the restrooms has space underneath to fit a wheelchair or any other assistive technology. Although, the soap dispenser is located on the mirror making it difficult for some people to reach. Also, the doors used to enter the restroom are not automatic therefore not everyone would be able to open the door without assistance. Additionally, the soap inside the soap dispenser is not labeled as to whether or not it is fragrance free. This could be problematic for an individual who is allegoric to fragrance.

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This is an image displaying the sinks and the space underneath the sinks in the women’s restroom. Photo credit: Briauna Cromer
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This is an image of the handicap/accessible stall in the women’s restroom. Photo credit: Briauna Cromer

“The Box” 

The last component we explored while in Wexner Center is called “The Box.” This space is designed to immerse the audience in video art. This room is completely dark and sound proof meaning the video cannot be heard outside of this room. The video on display in this room is extremely loud and flashes images quickly across the screen. This is a space that would not be viewed as accessible for everyone because there is low visibility and no warning signs as to the potentially harmful content of this exhibit. However, the exhibit does incorporate moveable seating making this a space that can accommodate a variety of seating arrangements. For example, seating can be pushed out-of-the-way for those in a wheelchair or those who have any other assistive technology.

Gift shop 

The Wexner Center houses a gift shop. Inside the gift shop there are t-shirts and books for purchase. In theory this would be beneficial for the university and the Wexner Center in terms of bringing in more revenue. However, the gift shop is full of clutter and has narrow aisle ways. This makes it difficult for a person in a wheelchair or any person with some sort of assistive technology to maneuver this space.

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This is an image displaying some of the clutter and one of the narrow aisle ways inside the gift shop.

 

Recommendations 

Since the soap inside the dispenser is not labeled as to whether or not it is fragrance free, there should be a sign near the dispenser indicating whether or not the soap is fragrance free. This will allow individuals with a fragrance allergy to determine whether or not it is safe to use the soap provided. Also, “The Box” should have a warning sign outside the room providing potential viewers with some indication as to the content displayed in this room. For the gift shop we would reccommed eliminating some of the clutter inside the shop and making the aisle ways wide enough to fit a wheelchair or any other type of assistive technology. All of these suggestions will permit people with a wider range of abilities to utilize these spaces.

Conclusion 

Overall, the Wexner Center for the Arts is a pretty accessible building for people with a wide range of abilities. This building utilizes ramps as the method for leading up to the entrances of building instead of stairs. The bathrooms include an accessible stall and sinks that can be used by a person in a wheelchair or a person who has any type of assistive technology. These components create a more diverse and inclusive environment for all of the students at The Ohio State University.

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