A Benchmark for Accessibility
Joseph D. Lore
To come up with a solution, an advisory committee was formed during the fall 2006 semester to identify potential locations for additional recreation facilities. The committee targeted August 2007 for project completion, concurring with the beginning of the fall 2007 semester.
After a space was found, construction began for the Syracuse University Fitness Center at Marshall Square Mall. Many factors were taken into consideration prior to the final construction stage of the project. Facility design elements such as equipment, flooring and locker rooms required careful planning, including compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Special consideration was taken to ensure that the facility included different types of fitness equipment that could be used by individuals with varying levels of physical ability. The planning committee used recommendations from the Syracuse University Beyond Compliant Coordination Committee to assure the facility promoted equal access by all members of the campus community.
The new facility features 3,900 square feet of space in upper and lower levels, which are joined by a ramp. Twelve weight machines were purchased, including five total-access units with swing-away seats for wheelchair access. Ten treadmills were purchased, of which two units include Braille overlays on the control panel, and one adjustable-position upper-body cycle was purchased. A stretching area contains elevated mats that measure 4 by 6 by 16 feet, which allows for above-the-floor stretching, and an easier transition by those in wheelchairs. Flooring was installed with orange aisles that measure 36 inches wide to meet ADA design standards for those in wheelchairs. Color contrast is used to assist those who are visually impaired with accessing machines, stretching mats and locker rooms.
In addition, the facility features three individual, unisex bathrooms that have accessible showers, toilets and sinks. (ADA requires a minimum of one dressing or changing room to be accessible.) One bathroom includes an internal automatic door opener and an emergency call system. Also, 50 percent of the lockers in the facility are within reach of a seated individual.
The Syracuse University Fitness Center at Marshall Square Mall is staffed by student employees. They are trained to have consistent interaction with all individuals, including those with disabilities. Staff is trained to not be afraid to offer assistance to those with disabilities, but also not to be overprotective. Written information about the accessibility of the facility is provided for patrons and staff.
Syracuse University is committed to creating a campus environment that is free from discrimination and celebrates diversity. This includes equal opportunities and access to the university's programs, services and facilities. The Syracuse University Fitness Center at Marshall Square Mall personifies this attitude, and is a benchmark for accessibility for the campus.
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