The uphill battle for ADA accessibility at COCC

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When President Richard Nixon signed the Americans with Disabilities Act in September 1973, it prohibited discrimination based on disability and granted equal access to all public facilities. The bill has allowed for more ADA progress to be made at Central Oregon Community College, but the campus’ geography makes change hard.

It wasn’t until the 1990s that the ADA went into full effect, according to Joe Viola, director of campus services. Since then, the college has seen more improvements, from the addition of ramps and elevators to the accessible doors all the buildings now have.

In 2007 a full ADA audit was issued and a plan to connect all the buildings together was set in place, according to Viola.

“With the construction that’s been going on, we’ve managed to incorporate some of the ADA improvements along with it to make it all more efficient and more effective,” Viola said.

COCC is not done growing and some new projects are in the works for the near future, Viola said.

“Right now, the biggest project for the campus student services is building the new student housing. That building will be three to five stories high and it will be completely ADA accessible,” Viola said. “As far as accessibility, we have some major restroom changes coming up for Pioneer and Ponderosa.”

Due to COCC being on a hillside, the school has implemented other ways for people with disabilities to get around. ADA students can get to their destinations by shuttle.

“Even though we try being completely ADA accessible, here where we are, it’s not very practical due to the geographical location of the school,” said Annie Jenkins, coordinator of services for students with disabilities.

The addition of the Madras and Prineville extensions back in 2011 brought up the question of how ADA accessible those locations would be. According to Joe Viola, director of campus services, the extensions will be fully loaded.

“The good news with the extensions is that since they are newer buildings, they already come fully ADA accessible,” Viola said.

Brayan Gonzalez | The Broadside
(Contact: bgonzalez@cocc.edu)

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