Group Members-Liana Malamed, Celeste Borgemenke, and Maddie Sumkin
As a group, we decided to do our accessibility audit on Oxley’s By The Numbers. Oxley’s By The Numbers is a cafe in the center of campus. It is a decently sized facility that can fit a maximum of 90 people. Students and faculty stop here throughout their day to grab a quick bite to eat, a coffee, or just to relax and get some work done in between classes. On average, there are probably about 30 people in the cafe at a time. The ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act that was passed in the United States Federal Government to outline compliance standards for new building constructions. Some of the standards outlined are the door width, hallway width, and bathroom configurations, etc. According to the ADA if an entrance or area is accessible then it follows the outlined standards, while if the area is inaccessible then it does not follow the outlined standards.
There are two ADA accessible entrances to get in that also provide a button to push that will open the door. If you choose to manually open the door, there is a push bar that seems to have an assistive mechanism that helps to open the door all the way.
The dining area is one open space for customers to maneuver with one short hallway that leads to the restrooms. The floors are a gray linoleum, with high, inaccessible counter-like tables with stools to sit on, and regular round tables with a few moveable lower chairs surrounding them. Upon entering the cafe, there is a counter where food and drinks are ordered. Directly before the counter, there is a passage formed by a winding metal railing for customers to line up in front of the cashier. This path is fairly inaccessible due to the narrow and confined space that allows a limited area to move or turn around. The railing also curves with sharp turns that may make maneuvering a wheelchair or assistive device rather difficult. Right before you get to the counter there is a mini accessible fridge with cold drinks in it. At the counter, there is another open fridge with cold, prepackaged food items in it. Height wise, it is accessible, but the food that is stored toward the back of the fridge may be difficult to reach. All food items on the menu are labeled with allergens they may contain. The menu also indicates food items which are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free. All ingredients are shown clearly on the packaged food and the ingredients of the freshly made dishes are available online. The lighting in Oxley’s consists of florescent bulbs hanging from the ceiling and natural light shining through the windows.
Down a small hallway inside of the restaurant, there are two bathrooms, one women’s and one men’s. The hallway has no railings or support. Both are individual bathrooms with signs that indicate the gender with a picture, words, and braille writing. Braille is a tangible writing system that is commonly used by the blind or individuals with visual disabilities. The bathrooms, size wise are accessible. The toilet has one grab bar along the wall side and a light switch at a height below 5 feet. However, the towel dispenser is more than 5 feet above the ground and soap dispensers are not in arms reach from a seated distance. The soap dispenser contains a scented hand soap which is not clearly indicated.
The first big concern we had about this location is the surrounding area that must be navigated in order to approach the cafe. The path outside leading up to Oxley’s is made of different types of concrete and stones. The ground is not leveled and is very choppy and uneven. There are several pieces missing and when entering from the east side of the building. There is also a steep ramp outside with many bricks missing. The second issue we encountered was the food pick-up counter height. It is certainly too tall to be reached from a seated position. Other factors that could be problematic are the fragranced soaps without labels and the use and consumption of nuts and nut oils in the cafe. This could become a big issue for people with allergies as there is a risk of cross contamination in this type of setting.
Conclusion and Suggestions:
Overall, this space is relatively accessible; however, there are a few aspects that could be improved to make the campus cafe even more universal. First, the railing that guides the line to the counter could either be removed or widened, making more space for wheelchair users, people on crutches, or anyone who may need more space. The counters that line the windows on the south side of the cafe could be shortened in some areas to make them more accessible. The hallway leading to the restrooms should incorporate a railing on the wall and the bathrooms should have reconfigured soap and paper towel dispensers to make them more accessible to people who cannot reach the height of the current dispensers. The soap could also be replaced with fragrance-free or hypoallergenic variety. It is difficult for a restaurant that caters to such a wide range of people to cut out certain ingredients from their menu; however, if nuts and nut oils were removed from the menu, the food would be more accessible to those with nut allergies. In addition to the interior of the restaurant, the pavers leading to the restaurant can be replaced or evened out, making the path more accessible to everyone. More spaces should definitely be designed with Oxley’s in mind. The modern design of the cafe is generally accessible despite the few aspects that could be improved. Anyone who enters the space who may have difficulty navigating the railings could order their food on Tapingo so they do not have to wait in the winding line. Tapingo is an online food ordering and delivery system commonly used by college students. If possible, those needing assistance could consider bringing a friend to help them retrieve their food from the high counter. If you are using the restroom and have a skin allergy related to the fragranced soaps, you should consider bringing your own soap or hand sanitizer, and if you have difficulty reaching the high paper towel dispenser, it may be a good idea to bring your own towels or tissues.
References and Links:
ADA Description: https://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm
Braille Description by American Foundation for the Blind: http://www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/braille/what-is-braille/123
Tapingo Website: http://www.tapingo.com/
How to go Fragrance-Free: http://thinkbeforeyoustink.com/howtogofragrancefree.html