Letter to the editor: library renovation

Upon the grand opening of VCU’s multi-million dollar library renovation on Friday afternoon, March 4th, it has been noted that the new layout lacks easy accessibility to students with disabilities.

After having students with disabilities share their impressions of the building Ngoc-My Guidarelli, a Catalog Librarian and a member of the VCU accessibility board, documented their opinions of the renovation.

Antoine Craig, a visually impaired student at VCU, led her along the new layout while offering insight on ways to make the library more user friendly to those who need it most.

Craig immediately was confronted with trouble upon entering the building.

“Once he reached the top of the stairs, he did not know where to go,” stated Guidarelli, due to the revolving doors.

She suggested having automatic doors on both sides of the main entrance, rather than just on one side as they presently are. The sound of an automatic door opening would be, “enough to alert visually impaired patrons that they are approaching an entrance,” said Guidarelli.

The main entrance wasn’t the only concern, the elevator panels and signage alerting students of the staircases were below standards, according to Craig. Without proper signage, “Visually impaired students can easily open the door and fall down the staircase,” stated Guidarelli.

In addition, they cannot read the room identification signs outside of the study rooms as well as are unable to read the buttons in the elevators, due to the letters and numbers being flat rather than raised.

“The risks of unclear signage run higher than any of the other faults with the new renovation,” said Craig’s friend Kiera.

They ended their tour in the accessibility room, which is meant to serve the purpose of being easy to use by students with disabilities. Craig found this room incredibly difficult to navigate to due to its location on the opposite side of the building, far from the entrance. The accessibility room also lacks updated computers and doesn’t even have a printer, all things Guidarelli noted as needing to change.

Guidarelli intends to bring these concerns to VCU’s accessibility board and The Department of Blind and Visually Impaired, in order to adjust the layout, order proper signage and obtain technology that will be able to serve visually impaired students.

Chloe Stevens
MASC 203 Student

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