ADA Accessibility: Student needs not fully met in renovated Gamble Hall

Women's bathroom in Gamble Hall
Women’s bathroom in Gamble Hall

By Chris Barber, Staff Writer

Gamble Hall is one of the original buildings on Armstrong’s campus.

Recent renovations modernized its interior, providing the technology necessary for today’s learning process and most importantly, complying with codes.

According to Armstrong’s webpage regarding the renovation, it included: ADA access, restrooms included, and the installation of an elevator, but the women’s restroom door – covered in scrapes and scratches – tells a different story. The recent renovations to Gamble bring into question its American with Disabilities Act accessibility throughout the entire campus.

“I have seen people in wheelchairs struggle to scrape in and out of the women’s restroom,” student Mary Dillard said. “The most difficult building to navigate though, is the Fine Arts building. The elevator is so small that I had to press the open button four times because I had gotten stuck. The hallways are very narrow; there are things in the way, and there usually aren’t any desks for handicapped people.”

Kathryn Twining, director of facility services assures that everything in Gamble Hall and throughout campus is up to code. “Door openers were installed on the north and west entrances to Gamble during the renovation. The rest of the renovations for Gamble, including restrooms, were completed to ADA and Building Codes. All buildings are accessible via at least one handicap entrance with push button and all 2 story buildings are fitted with elevators per code,” commented Twining. “Elevated buildings are fitted with handicap ramps as well. In academic buildings, adjustable desks are available for those in wheelchairs. Anytime a major renovation is undertaken, as was the case with Gamble, we are required by law to abide by all building codes and ADA laws. Major renovations require periodic inspections by the Fire Marshal to ensure compliance. These inspections are how we obtain Certificates of Occupancy, which allow us to open the building for use.” She explained that sometimes there are some discrepancies between what is required by code, and what people think should be required by code.

“They should go beyond the bare minimum, handicapped people are so different and code cannot always meet the needs of everyone,” Dillard said. “When we run into question of compliance and accessibility, the Office of Facility Services reaches out to both the University’s Disability Services as well as the State’s ADA coordinator for advice and direction. Each year, we request funding from the State to specifically address access throughout the entire campus, usually in the form of sidewalk repairs.”

Twining added that if students or faculty can explain the specifics regarding the restroom in Gamble, she would be glad to look into it. Students with questions or concerns regarding disability related needs are urged to call Disability Services at 912-344-2744.