Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Removing barriers

Queen’s is using an upcoming café event to create awareness of how campus buildings and infrastructure are becoming more accessible. 

[Queen's University accessibility]
Additional power door openers will be installed on campus as part of the "Proposed 5-Year Accessibility Plan for Barrier Removal in Existing Buildings". (Supplied Photo)

What are your ideas for making the Queen’s campus more accessible?

At noon on Wednesday, Oct. 31, members of the University’s Built Environment Advisory Group (BEAG), with the support of the Human Rights and Equity Office and Physical Plant Services, will host an Accessibility Café focused on the “Proposed 5-Year Accessibility Plan for Barrier Removal in Existing Buildings”. The café will take place in Robert Sutherland Hall Room 202.

Following a presentation by the Advisory Group on accessible built environment standards and codes and the proposed 5-year plan, members and attendees may ask questions and engage in discussion to help guide future accessibility upgrades on campus.

“We are excited to be supporting this Accessibility Café and to be discussing projects the university is moving forward with as part of its commitment to improve campus accessibility for everyone,” says John Witjes, Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities).

In the 2018/19 budget, the university pledged an ongoing $250,000 a year to address accessibility renovations and improvements across campus. 

Some of the upgrades planned for the next five years include power door openers, signage to help campus visitors find accessible entrances to buildings, adding accessible building entrances to existing buildings, and relocating some on-campus resources to more accessible locations.

The university is also looking to add another two single-user (gender-neutral) accessible washrooms on campus. There are five such washrooms being added to campus this year, including two which recently opened in the Four Directions Indigenous Student Centre. This is in addition to the 80 accessible and 25 not accessible single-user washrooms on campus that are considered gender-neutral washrooms.

To determine which projects receive priority, the Advisory Group has outlined high-level criteria, which focus on safety, fundamental barriers, and creating inclusive environments. They examine the type of building that requires the upgrade, the amount of traffic the building receives, whether the building connects to other buildings, and other factors to make their decisions.

”Our goal was to select accessibility components and features that would enhance the existing built environment on campus, benefiting people of all abilities,” says Maridee Osolinsky, Planner with Physical Plant Services. "We are looking forward to creating more awareness of accessibility in the built environment and engaging with participants on designing a more inclusive campus.”

Event organizers will also use the Café to recruit new members into the Built Environment Advisory Group. The group provides advice to Queen’s Facility Management on accessibility concerns, standards, and legislation, including the Design of Public Spaces Standard that assist in making the Queen’s campus and its facilities accessible to everyone.

Specifically, they have a mandate to:

  • Advise on the requirements and implementation of various standards;
  • Review and endorse accessibility projects funded within the 5-year plan;
  • Review site plans and floor plans for new construction and renovation projects on capital projects of a value of $2.5M or greater and accessibility projects that receive grants

The Café is one in a continuing series delving into accessibility matters on campus, and those interested in the topic are encouraged to stay tuned for more events in the new year.

To learn more about the Built Environment Advisory Group, visit the Equity Office website. Those interested in applying to join the group should email Andrew Ashby, Accessibility Coordinator, at ashby@queensu.ca by the end of November 2018.