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Bookstore entrance presents problems

April 26, 2012

 

The doors at the bookstore have not been converted to power doors and this has posed as a problem for many disabled and handicapped students. –Photo by Sumeet Shrestha

REBECCA ALVAREZ 
Staff Reporter

 

Many people would agree that opening a door with full hands is difficult, but to do the same from a wheelchair or with crutches, the task would seem nearly impossible.

 

Some buildings on campus have powered doors to give easier access to those with disabilities, but there are a few buildings that are still missing the silver trigger button by the door. The Barnes and Noble Bookstore is one building that does not have power doors.

 

“Handicap doors are not required to be power doors,” Sam Wallace, director of facility and support services, said. “They are only required to be accessible to people with disabilities.”

 

Wallace works with architects who design buildings and renovations to ensure each project is in compliance with government laws and codes.

 

The building is leased to Barnes and Noble by Tech and has its own standards for how the store should be designed, but Wallace oversees that the designs adhere to codes and laws. He said the entrance meets state fire codes and the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but it is hard to disabled or handicapped students.

 

Sophomore kinesiology major, Lauren Africa recalled struggling with the bookstore doors when she was using crutches during fall quarter.

 

“It was completely inaccessible,” she said. “I couldn’t do it myself.”

 

Africa was using crutches after having knee surgery and said besides having her hands full, the weight of the door did not allow her to open the door wide enough.

 

She said she often needed help from others, and sometimes when there was no help available, she would struggle to get through the doors.

 

“One of those door buttons would have been really helpful,” she said.

 

Katie Tuminello, a sophomore architecture student, said she agrees power doors are necessary at the bookstore.

 

“There are plenty disabled students who need help getting in,” she said. “It’d be a good investment because there won’t always be someone there.”

 

But Wallace and Linda Griffin, dean of student development, said power doors are not always helpful and can be hazardous because the timing on the doors could be short and close on those who enter.

 

Griffin said help is always available to those who need it and that power doors are not a priority since there have not been any complaints about the accessibility of the bookstore.

 

If there are any concerns or complaints, the issue will be investigated to see if any changes will be necessary, said Wallace.

 

While there will not be any changes made to the bookstore any time soon, Griffin said there will be power doors on new and renovated buildings

 

“We are confident about accessibility to the building,” she said. “We are bound by federal mandates that require that our buildings be accessible to all students.”

 

Email comments to rha014@latech.edu.

 

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