$190,000 approved for accessibility plans

Students with disabilities could soon be seeing some changes that aim to improve their Queen’s experience.

In a meeting on Monday, the Board of Directors approved the expenditure of up to $190,000 on projects suggested by Accessibility Queen’s. The money for the projects comes from the Accessibility Fund, a restricted fund whose balance from annual student fees accumulates from one year to the next.

The projects approved would include a $100,000 scholarship endowment for students with disabilities who don’t meet the criteria for the OSAP bursary for persons with disabilities.

According to a proposal submitted by Alison McCordick, chair of Accessibility Queen’s, applicants for this scholarship would “demonstrate financial need related to their disability,” such as for adaptive technology. The endowment would be broken into smaller scholarships and distributed annually by the Awards’ Office.

The money approved would also be spent on the $40,000 construction of two barrier-free washrooms in Dupuis Hall, a $30,000 wheelchair lift to the Grant Hall stage, and four power door openers for $20,000.

“I just think it’s a tremendous contribution,” said Barbara Roberts, the University’s disability services advisor. “They’re doing some significant high-ticket items which, in a normal single year of funding, you wouldn’t be able to do.”

AMS VP (University Affairs) Shiva Mayer said that apart from a yearly AMS “taxi fund,” which transfers money to the registrar’s office to assist students with temporary mobility disabilities, significant amounts of money have not been spent from the Accessibility Fund since April 2004, when a ramp and barrier-free washrooms were built in the JDUC.

AMS VP (University Affairs)-elect Meghan Teuber said construction on the power doors and barrier-free washrooms should begin this summer.

“That’s when Physical Plant Services likes to do the majority of their work,” she said. “We’d love for them to begin as soon as possible.”

Teuber said the accumulated amount of money in the Accessibility Fund gave the AMS the opportunity to address accessibility issues that are “the most relevant on campus right now.”

“That money is supposed to kind of accumulate to go towards larger projects,” she said.

“It had grown to the point where they had just over $200,000 on their hands [and] we thought it was time that the money be spent.”

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