Honors class maps out campus accessibility

By Ana Salgado, May 10, 2022

On May 3, an honors class of 12 students, partnering with staff from the Disability Resource Center and Information Technology & Institutional Planning, gathered to share an excel sheet file that indicated accessible recommended paths of travel for individuals with mobility impairments.

Hyeryung Hwang, an Assistant Professor in the department of interdisciplinary general education, has partnered with DRC staff and IT to access helpful resources for a class project she originally assigned to honor students in IGE 1020H. The project began in late February and is now more collaborative. Hwang and the students discovered that unlike some other California State University campuses, Cal Poly Pomona did not have an accessibility campus map for the disabled.

Students gather on May 3 to discuss the ongoing project. (Ana Salgado | The Poly Post)

In order to fulfill the unit of Higher Education and Community Engagement, Hwang’s students were asked to travel around campus to find any possible issues to accessibility entrances or elevators in difficult-to-locate campus buildings.

Hwang reminded students that they would need to note important information about buildings that needed elevators, power doors and ease of accessible paths as they canvassed campus collecting data.

It was found that buildings 26, 29, 31 and 32, which make up University Plaza, did not have power doors or accessible travel paths.

As on-campus alternatives, such as the Bronco Shuttle and DRC, indicate that individuals with disabilities can receive assistance navigating around campus, it was important to emphasize that the project’s goal is the focus of the map, which will offer additional visuals and directions in the near future to the campus community.

Hwang expressed since the beginning of the semester that she wanted to treat the class less like a competitive space and more like a space of collaboration and coming together to help, not only the campus community, but being inclusive to all its visitors.

“As a class we read the book ‘The War for Kindness’ by Jamil Zaki by exploring our textbooks. The last step was this class project on taking action that can help change our community,” said Hwang.

In an effort to help the class better interpret the significant information contained in the excel spreadsheet, the DRC and IT staff provided suggestions and guidance. For a better understanding, the class should be more direct about which areas have access to a path and which areas do not with keywords like “accessible buildings,” so that they have a better understanding of which areas are accessible.

Jinah Young, an interim director of mobile and web applications, and Ann Loomis, who was the associate director of DRC in the beginning stages of the project and now is learning management system administrator for the Center for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence, both shared that the class collaboration was a total coincidence because both the DRC and IT had begun working on a similar project at the same time as the class.

“It is really a collaboration between students and staff, which is really exciting. Polytechnic is the goal,” said Loomis. “Dr. Carol Gonzales, (chief information security officer) who was the impetus behind this project, leading the team was also very supportive of taking the project polytechnic.”

Young also discussed the importance of the collaboration between students and staff to bring this project to fruition.

“We have the idea, but we don’t have the manpower they (the students) have the manpower but they just need a little bit of direction from the university perspective, so it works out perfectly,” said Young.

Hwang shared that she is not only thankful for the team but also the collaboration of her class in making an impact and stepping out of their comfort zone into something so significant like this project.

Campus accessibility maps may be shared with students in the fall semester if the mapping project is not finished by the end of the semester.

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