This year will surely be one of the most inconvenient for Georgetown students in recent memory. With construction crews ready to start on a variety of projects around campus, blocked pathways and roundabout routes will be a hallmark of this year.
But the inconvenience of extra walking time will be especially exacerbated for handicapped students.
Current plans for long-term construction on campus will block pedestrian pathways, many of which were key to making campus wheelchair accessible, in spite of the Hilltop’s already challenging topography.
With construction on the Northeast Triangle posed to close off the pathway between Red Square and the Leavey Center for two years, and construction on Ryan and Mulledy halls to constrict pedestrian traffic on the walkway between O’Donovan Hall and Lauinger Library for one year, available alternatives for handicap students and campus visitors will be essential.
Thankfully, campus administrators have considered and included contingencies for handicap accessible pathways throughout construction, although not all contingencies are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Elevators in Regents Hall and the new Healey Family Student Center will provide alternatives to the closed walkways, but more awareness about those alternatives is needed.
Furthermore, campus visitors who do not receive email updates on construction projects are equally entitled to information about Georgetown’s handicap accessibility. Updated campus signs that will reflect pathways closed for months on end will help these visitors navigate campus. Especially for prospective students, parents and other visitors, inaccurate maps of campus pathways provide a disservice that could make our guests uncomfortable and frustrated.
It is vital that administrators release updated information as soon as possible to allow time for students to understand how their day-to-day routine will be affected. This is especially true with the physically handicapped, as it is important that those affected can find walkways that allow them to traverse campus in a timely and comfortable manner. Throughout this construction process,the university should keep handicap accessibility a top priority.