Bibb Graves elevator will create more floor accessibility for UNA students

Elevator construction continues across from the Registrar’s Office in Bibb Graves Hall. Officials say elevators should be completed by spring 2016.

After a reasonable bid and student complaints, a “much-needed” elevator is under construction in Bibb Graves Hall, allowing better accessibility for students with disabilities, officials said.

Bibb Graves Hall, built in 1929, has served as the central administration building and the location of several classrooms at UNA.

“Anytime you have a campus that is our size, with buildings that are as old as ours are, you’re going to have issues with handicapped accessibility,” said Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Clinton Carter.

Due to its age, the building does not provide elevator access to all three floors in accordance with the federal mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), according to the resolution provided at the March 2015 board of trustees meeting.

Until the elevator is built, the only aid students or visitors with disabilities have for traveling to or attending classes in second and third floors of the building is the automated chair used for carrying individuals up the stairs.

Disability Services also has the power to move classes to more accessible floors for students with disabilities.

“Somebody could break a leg throughout the semester, and then have to climb three flights of stairs,” Carter said. “Technically, the building is accessible because of the automated chair, but it is horribly slow. This is why we’re putting in the elevator.”

The chair lift was described as “inadequate” and “undependable,” according to the resolution summary for the elevator installation. The summary also said the lift did not meet the federal mandates of the ADA for providing access to the entire building.

The automated chair has received complaints and has caused strife for most students tracing back to 2007 with some incidents involving disabled students being stuck on the mechanism, according to a Feb. 5 article.

“They already have a machine to carry people who are using crutches, but that machine has been broken ever since I’ve been at UNA (2012),” said senior Jake Rodgers. “They’ve needed to do something since it is a three-story building.”

Bids for the elevator project opened July 2014, and the base bid exceeded the $350,000 budget, so the board of trustees placed the project on hold. The board of trustees raised the budget for this project to $500,000 during their March meeting.

“People should just get over it and get more in shape,” said senior Dan Nhu Dong. “But an elevator should be installed for disadvantaged people.”

Carter said this is a “student-driven” issue.

“Clearly handicapped accessibility is top priority,” Carter said. “One of our goals is to bring the other buildings on campus up to that speed.”

Construction on the elevator began in May. Carter said he expects the elevator to be fully-functional by spring 2016.