The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was a landmark piece of legislation that has protected the rights of those with physical or mental handicaps. While the Georgetown campus is in compliance with the ADA, it only takes a quick tour of the Hilltop to realize that much more could be done to make university buildings more accommodating to the physically disabled.
According to its website, “the university will make reasonable accommodations for students with documented learning, physical and/or psychological disabilities” in accordance with the American Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. However, given that Georgetown sits on a relatively small and contained campus, the university should aspire for more than what’s “reasonable” when making buildings accessible. Regulations are necessary to prevent abuse, but they only establish a bare-minimum standard. If it wishes to be truly accessible, Georgetown needs to go far beyond the basic requirements established by the ADA.
Plenty of academic buildings do indeed accommodate people with physical disabilities. Yet many rooms in university-owned apartments — including Alumni Square, Henle Village and Village A — are only accessible by stairs. Classroom accessibility is the foremost concern, but there is more to the college experience than just being able to attend classes or access one’s personal dorm room. Students with physical disabilities should not be prevented from visiting friends or exploring campus because of a lack of uniform accessibility standards across all buildings. Maintaining accessibility in classrooms and some residence halls may meet bare-minimum requirements, but it’s commonly accepted among students that glaring deficiencies still remain.
The university should constantly be searching for ways to improve accommodations for the physically handicapped; having a disability should not hinder one’s ability to maximize his Georgetown experience.
Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.