Photo: Sarah Krichel

RSU to evaluate accessibility at Ryerson

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By Rameez Hameed and Noushin Ziafati

The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) is planning to conduct a campus-wide accessibility audit.

RSU vice-president equity Camryn Harlick said this during their campaign for the RSU position and it was discussed at last months board meeting. Harlick and a group of students will be going around campus with a checklist to see if the buildings are accessible by evaluating elevators, stairs and even lighting.

“Are all of these different things being taken into account when we talk about what meaningful accountability looks like within academia?” Harlick said in regards to the university’s accessibility at the board meeting.

Harlick said the RSU is conducting the audit themselves because the student union cannot afford to do outsourcing and pay auditors due to the RSU’s $1.2 million deficit.

The RSU accessibility audit is timely, as the Student Learning Centre (SLC) has recently received criticism from accessibility advocate, David Lepofsky, in a YouTube video.

Lepofsky is a lawyer and chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act Alliance. He questioned the fact that the SLC has received architectural awards such as a national award of excellence by Canadian Architect Magazine in the past, despite a series of accessibility problems the building entails. 

“It’s clear as we look around this building, that the intent was for there to be good accessibility provisions for students and faculty and staff with disabilities,” Lepofsky said. “But when we look closely, in fact, when we don’t even have to look that closely, we’re going to find out that there are significant recurring accessibility problems, problems that would’ve been easily prevented.”

In the video, Lepofsky highlights a number of accessibility issues at the SLC, including steep hangout steps that people with mobility devices cannot access, angled pillars as well as angled staircases in the lobby and beach area.

The Eye previously reported that accessibility in the SLC is still an ongoing problem, but the university is planning to take preventative measures, such as adding audio to self-serve kiosks and using colour contrasting strips to improve visibility of the outdoor ramps.

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