Accessibility Audit of Mack Hall (First Floor) by Victoria Hockenhull, Monica Ebbing and Maddie Bauer
Mack Hall is a dormitory at Ohio State University. This dorm was built in 1923 as an all women’s dorm. It is a fairly large building with four floors, each floor holding about 19-20 dorm rooms. Inside of the first floor, you’ll see that the floors were covered by tile in the doorway and short carpet by the entrance. The lighting by the entrances vary among incandescent and daylight. During the day, daylight shines through the windows at the doors, but at night and evenings, incandescent lights are present. The building was very large but generally not very spacious.
Mack Hall is a dorm on the south part of the Ohio State Campus. The address of the dorm is 1698 Neil Avenue, and is on the corner of Neil Avenue and 11th avenue.
When we started the audit of Mack Hall, one of the first few things we noticed were the lack of accessible entrances. A building like Mack Hall has multiple entrances that are ironically meant to be more convenient yet none of them were wheelchair accessible or automatic. The only automatic door was located at the basement level and served as the main entrance. After entering through that basement level, one would have to use the only visible elevator in the building, the elevator at the end of the hall, or the stairs to access the first floor. At every door to the building, there was a step or set of stairs to get in. When a person made it to one of the side doors, there were no automatic functions to make it open up. However, the door handles at each door did meet the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements of 48 inches or lower. Many of the side doors were located between floors and the only way to get to each floor was a set of stairs. It was also interesting to note that there were no signs around the building to guide people to the only automatic door. We found that to be very inconvenient for any wheelchair users because of the size of the building. If a person was coming from the opposite side of the building, they had a long way to travel before they could reach an accessible door.
These images show the lack of automatic function at each door and the inaccessibility of the entryways by the stairwells.
The bathrooms of the dorm on the first floor alone are not accessible at all. The bathrooms in the girls’ wing are separated into six pods. This means that the girls’ bathrooms have separate rooms with a toilet, shower, and sink in each of them. The lights in the bathrooms were incandescent, but three of the bathrooms also had natural light coming from the windows. The floor was made up of large, grey tiling and the walls were white. Each bathroom had unlabeled, scented soap which could be a problem for people with allergies or sensitivity to potent smells. One bathroom did have a sign stating that it was accessible, but that didn’t seem to be true on the inside. In the accessible restroom, the toilet had plenty of room for movement and wheelchair use. Additionally, there were railings next to the toilet and in the shower. However, the sink, paper towels, light switch, and soap were all too high for a wheelchair user or a person of a smaller stature. Inside the showers, there were no seats or stools for one to sit down. The shower head was very high off the ground, so if it needed to be readjusted, it would not be possible because it was out of reach. At the front of the shower, there was another step just to enter, rendering it inaccessible to a wheelchair user. The slanting and slope of the floor in the shower may have been good for draining purposes but it didn’t allow for much stability if someone without good balance were to slip in the water.
This image shows the lack of accessibility for the “accessible” restroom pod. There is a ledge in the front of the shower and no hand rails outside the shower as shown in this photo.
When it came to the hallways of the first floor, they were decently wide for anyone using them. Multiple people could be in the hallways with plenty of room. The width of the hall measured out to be 59’’ wide which is acceptable according to the ADA. This means that people using wheelchairs, crutches, or any other mechanism for mobility would easily be able to access and utilize the halls. However, there were no hand rails anywhere in the halls if someone were to need them. There were two levels in the hallway connected by a slanted ramp. The area had no steps and the ramp was not steep, making it accessible to all. In order to get into some of the dorm rooms, there was a doorway leading to a small entry that branched off into two different dorm rooms. The space was tight which could make it difficult for people using additional mechanisms of mobility to pass through.
This image shows the lack of hand rails throughout the hallways.
The first floor had two elevators; one in the middle of the floor and one at the end of the boys’ side. While the middle elevator was easy to access, there were no signs that pointed out where either elevator was located. There were also no visible signs in the hallway pointing out where the restrooms are. The only sign was a handmade paper sign right outside the restrooms signifying the gender the restroom was meant for. The lack of large, visible signage in the hallways could make it difficult for a person with visual impairments to get around. The hallway does have ADA accessible water fountains for all to use. Alarms that had visual and audio components were in each hallway as well. The hallways were well lit with many incandescent lights on the ceiling. If someone were to have allergies, the hallways could prove to be a problem. Unfortunately, in a dorm building there are people eating nuts, wearing deodorants and perfumes, and using air fresheners. These smells often carry out into the halls which could affect those with allergies or those that are sensitive to strong smells. Dust along the walls and ledges of windows could also affect those with allergies. Another small issue we found was that the chemical room was open and easy to access with the cleaners out in the open.
This image shows the main elevator for the first floor. As pictured, there is no sign indicating it is an elevator and there are no signs stating where it is anywhere in the building.
As a group, we came up with a few recommendations for anyone who is maintaining the building or planning to design more. We would recommend that every entrance to the building have a ramp and automatic doors. Upon the inside of the door, it would be useful to have alternate ways of traveling from floor to floor other than stairs. There could possibly be more elevators or lifts available at every door. For those that are using the space, it could be helpful to plan out your schedule so that you are always returning to the dorm nearest to the accessible door. Another recommendation would be to make sure there is railing everywhere in case someone needs it. There could also be more labeling and signage with braille for nearby restrooms, elevators, accessible doors, study rooms, and the office. In the bathrooms, there needs to be scentless soap or labels to distinguish which soaps are which. Finally, we recommend that all facilities are built on level ground so that residents of all abilities may easily enter and exit the building.