CFRC needs a lift

CFRC volunteer Louise Bark has been unable to access the radio station’s space, in the basement of Carruthers Hall. Bark uses a wheelchair and previously entered the offices with help from her colleagues, who would help her down the stairs in a manual wheelchair.

In Nov. 2010, CFRC spoke to Queen’s Accessibility Committee about the building’s lack of accessibility and Bark was told that her method of entering Carruthers Hall was a liability. Bark was told a mechanical lift would be installed, and even tested the device this spring, but the project has been delayed indefinitely.

The University’s failure to provide an accessible entrance to the CFRC offices is shameful and should be remedied immediately.

Freedom from discrimination on the ground of disability is guaranteed in the Ontario Human Rights Code. By extension, this means the University has both a legal and moral obligation to ensure that every campus building is fully accessible.

The proposed lift costs approximately $16,000, but Ann Browne, associate vice-principal of facilities, told the Journal via email that there isn’t enough funding.

With a multi-million dollar budget, $16,000 can surely be found to pay for the lift. If implementing the lift means running a deficit, then so be it. This is an essential need that requires immediate attention.

The Queen’s Accessibility Committee referred Bark to Accessibility Queen’s, an AMS group, after the University decided funding was unavailable. This decision signals a deflection of responsibility that shouldn’t have happened.

Volunteers make significant contributions to the University and to CFRC in particular. They need to be appreciated for their service and accommodations should be made as needed. To promise action and then do nothing is a poor showing from the University.

Given the historic nature of many campus buildings it’s likely that accessibility is an issue in places other than the basement of Carruthers Hall. The University should conduct an audit of campus buildings and proactively alter any spaces that are inaccessible for community members.

Accessibility is an issue that’s often championed, yet in this case it was ignored. A chance for the University to take significant action has turned into an embarrassment. The best course of action now is for Queen’s to step up and salvage the image that administrators try so hard to project.

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