CSU approves funding for accessibility audit on campus in preparation for new lounge development
Annalisse Crosswell, News Editor
The Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) recently approved funding for an accessibility audit on campus. The audit is a step towards the CSU’s mandate of creating a space for the Accessibility Justice Collective Lounge, which will be accessible to all students. CSU spaces around campus will also reap the benefits, ensuring they are fully accessible. The project is still early in its development but the audit will likely occur before 2019, at which point conversations with Capilano University about the location of the lounge will begin.
While the Accessibility Justice Collective Lounge was already a part of the CSU’s strategic plan, Andrew Dillman, accessibility justice coordinator, brought up the possibility of doing an audit that would also look at finding a suitable location for the new lounge. “...seeing that the gender and diversity audit that the CSU and University are collaborating on is going well, I decided to talk with Kate [Jarman] about doing something similar through Accessibility Justice,” said Dillman.
Dillman and his team have been working closely with Kate Jarman, director of student spaces. Jarman has been a point of contact between the CSU and the company that will be performing the audit, Universal Access Design (UAD). Dillman said that when they reached out to the Rick Hansen Foundation about the audit they were referred to UAD because they have worked on similar projects before.
This audit will only cover CSU spaces, but, if successful, the conversation may be brought to the University about auditing other campus spaces at a later date. Audits have been done in the past but have not occurred in recent years and have previously been performed internally.
Some concerns were initially raised about the cost of the audit due to confusion about what exactly the audit would entail, but Dillman said that once the process was clarified it seemed the rest of the CSU was supportive. It was thought by some CSU members that the quote for the project was too high for a simple audit and finding the appropriate space for a lounge, but it was clarified that this process will also be about designing the space itself.
Like many areas in Vancouver, the CapU campus poses an issue for accessibility because of its hilly terrain. Other small issues have been noticed in the past such as the “push to open” buttons being broken on some building entrances.
Later stages in the project will include talking to students about other accessibility issues and conducting a survey of what students would like to see in the new Accessibility Justice Collective Lounge. Students have already expressed an interest in more quiet spaces to decompress on campus, which Dillman said the CSU will be keeping in mind as they work on the new space.
“Since my first term in office I’ve always kind of wanted to do an assessment of the spaces and make sure that we’re not just meeting the minimum,” said Dillman, “That we’re actually going above and beyond to make sure that everything is open to everyone.”
There have been talks that the Accessibility Justice Collective Lounge could be a part of the new CSU building. Fees for this new building were approved last year and it is still uncertain where it may be located on campus, though there is a chance it may replace the Maple building where the CSU offices are currently located.
“Students are paying us to use these spaces and we want to make sure that they’re able to,” said Dillman.