300 Massachusetts Ave
Amherst, MA 01003
In a preview tour of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, seven
buildings are reviewed for handicap accessibility. The buildings range
from visitors center, to performing arts, to historic buildings, including a chapel, a library, and a dining hall.
New England’s largest public university features a large campus, quite spread out but very flat, catering to a current population of 22,000. The student body seems friendly and resourceful.
Established in 1863, the campus respects and honors its past, but has met the present with creativity. Three historic buildings critiqued are Memorial Hall, Old Chapel, and South College. All three buildings, have been resourcefully renovated for accessibility.
Old Chapel is the newest renovation, completed in 2016. Old Chapel is accessible through two up front concrete ramps, which include hand rails. One of the ramps is accessible from the rear side. A side entrance with stairs, which has a push button power door also accesses Old Chapel. The front doors are push button power doors, that have an outdoor landing from the ramps. The extremely well designed renovation successfully connects the historic chapel, with the modern accessible features, while being pleasing to the eye.
Memorial Hall, also a renovated historic building, now housing the Alumni Association and Development Offices, is accessible from the front door, via a push button power door. The entrance is a flat slate walk way.
South College, another historic building, holds the English Department, which has been renovated and expanded. The front of the building offers accessibility through the use of concrete ramps, and push button power front doors. The side and rear of South College can be entered through push button accessible doors. All levels of the building also feature accessible wash rooms.
As for the more modern buildings, the Visitors Center offers numerous large lots for parking, with an abundance of handicap parking spots. Charging outlets for electric vehicles are also available.
Appealingly accessible, The Rand Theater offers push button front
power doors, and an accessible washroom to the right of the front lobby. Concrete paths can, alternatively, be used to access the side entrance of the Rand Theater where push button power doors, along with an elevator access the building. Inside, readily available accessible seating is plentiful.
Du Bois Library consists of twenty six floors connected by four elevators. A main entrance on the second floor is accessed using power doors. Both the twenty first floor and the second floor, offer cafe areas, with the name of the second floor facility appropriately being “Procrastination Station.” A student lounge and an information desk are also found on the second floor, along with computers available to self check out books.
The Student Union contains two floors connected by an elevator.
This student center offers research computers, a coffee store and a student lounge. Though it is an older building it is accessible. The washrooms, are accessible though do not offer push button power doors.
An unusual amenity offered at U Mass is the Lincoln Hotel located in the center of the campus. The one university dining area previewed is Franklin Dining, one of the four dining facilities on campus. The building offers two accessible parking spots. Each of the four sides of the building has its own entrance to the dining hall. However, none of the four entrances, offer power doors. Neither are there any interior power doors. The dining area, on the second floor is connected through a system of concrete ramps, which start on the first floor. These ramps offer foam rubber padding on the floor surface. Television monitors on the ramp landing provide necessary information. The dining area is very accessible. The first floor also offers a convenience store and an outside ATM.
U Mass provides a extremely useful Disability Service, a university department which handles issues ranging from class room interpreters, use of caption on film or recorded media, helping arrange extended time for exams, and class room note takers. Disability Service, also interacts with accessible accommodations. On campus transportation can be arranged, through Special Transportation. The service is offered both to people with temporary and permanent disabilities.
The campus seems very self sufficient, deserves commendation for its renovations and rates eight and a half out often for accessibility.