How Edinboro Univ. Goes Above and Beyond ADA Standards

This Pennsylvania Institution of higher education partnered with its long-time integrator to provide greater accessibility and independence to students with disabilities.

“This accessibility designation prompted the university to grow its programs and services to allow a student with a disability to be fully engaged in campus life,” says Kim Kennedy, director – Office for Students with Disabilities at EU. “Programs and services include attendant care, meal aides, homework aides, van transportation and on-campus wheelchair repair. All of these services go well beyond the accommodation requirements for access as outlined by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA.”

RELATED: Protecting Students with Disabilities – A History

In the decades since these regulations took effect, the university has aimed to not only meet the standards, but to exceed them in every facet of the campus experience. For the more than 500 students served – with disabilities of all types – EU’s Office for Students with Disabilities provides academic and life skills development through a variety of programs, offering equal opportunity for students to acquire the skills needed to manage their own care and live independently beyond the university.

Other Colleges Not As Accessible as EU
It was this same dedication that was immediately applied when Norah Scholl, a 23-year-old second-year graduate student in community counseling and graduate hall coordinator at EU, moved into the university’s Highlands residence halls.
Scholl was born with Arthrogryposis-Amyoplasia – a syndrome causing contractures and deformity in the joints, and a lack of muscle development. She is a quadriplegic and requires the use of a motorized wheelchair to get around campus and in her daily life. Scholl was familiar with the university’s devotion to serving students with disabilities.

“When I was a sophomore in high school and starting to look at options for college, my family and I visited Edinboro after researching top universities for students with disabilities. We were so impressed with the campus’ accessibility and the fact that they offered van transportation and a 24/7 personal attendant care program,” Scholl says. “I’m from Cape Cod, Mass., and when we looked at colleges that were closer to home, we were basically told we’d have to put an ad in the newspaper to find an attendant care person, and half of the buildings on other college campuses weren’t accessible to me. At Edinboro, I’ve never had to worry about accessibility; they’ve always been very focused on making me comfortable on campus.”

Integrator Designs, Installs Specialized Door Solution
Throughout Scholl’s tenure at the university, administrators have been dedicated to finding ways to allow her – and other students – to be as independent as possible on campus. She has taken advantage of the university’s 24/7 attendant care program, and has used the accessible transportation services regularly for trips to the pharmacy, grocery store or to attend her Greek society’s formals and functions.

The recent opening of a wheelchair accessible, indoor bridge, connecting buildings over some of the campus’ busiest intersections and steeper hills has made cross-campus travel much easier for Norah and other students. Most recently, EU enlisted the expertise of its trusted security partner, Stanley Security, to develop a solution that would allow Scholl to open and close the door to her room in the residence hall independently and automatically.

“No matter where Norah was – whether or not she was in her room – she had to have her door propped open with a chair, or required assistance to open or close it,” says Jim Miller, director – Office of Facilities Management & Planning for Edinboro. “Obviously, we were aware of the safety concerns and the challenge presented in finding a solution that would work for Norah. We’ve had a great relationship with Stanley Security for years, using their BEST products for keys, locks and access control, so we sat down with them to discuss the uniqueness of the situation and to hash out a few ideas.”

Stanley Security is a global manufacturer and integrator of comprehensive intrusion, fire, video surveillance, access control, monitoring applications, mass notification, door hardware, automatic entrances and more.

“From day one, Stanley just got it,” Miller continues. “We have such a close-knit, distinct community here, and it can be hard for vendors to connect with that sometimes. Stanley was on board from the very beginning, and was so enthusiastic when developing and implementing the solution.”

Scholl, EU Provide Input on Solution Design, Installation
In order to ensure that all of Scholl’s needs were being addressed, the integrator met with her to discuss the intricacies of the installation and allowed her full input in the design of the solution.

“Stanley made sure I was very involved in the process, having conversations and asking me questions about how the solution could be adapted to best accommodate me and others in the future,” Scholl says.

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