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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

December 18, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Opinion

Commentary: Bookstore isn’t as accessible as it should be

The bookstore on any college campus is a hot spot for current students, prospective students, families of students and faculty who want to show school pride. So, one would think that the bookstore would be accessible to all, including those with mobility disabilities. However, the Ithaca College Campus Store lacks the space and appropriate design for accessibility, excluding people with disabilities from purchasing items and displaying school spirit.

When you walk into the college’s bookstore, you walk into a large display of clothes and various other tchotchkes in the middle of the aisle. Once you squeeze past that display, there are reasonably sized aisles leading to the rest of the store, but if you want to take a closer look at the clothes, you have to fight through the small space between clothing racks. On a busy day, it is almost impossible to walk through the store without bumping into another customer. A wheelchair user would have an extremely difficult time navigating through these small pathways, and this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

The Ithaca College campus is not as accessible as it could be, with hidden and unmarked elevators and narrow doors to get into certain buildings, along with an impossible number of stairs to navigate. For a wheelchair user to get to the front entrance of the bookstore coming from the direction of the library, they would have to take an elevator tucked into a dark corner in the Muller Faculty Center, and would then have to travel most of the way down the Textor hallway to get to the store.

Coming from the direction of Williams, a wheelchair user could take advantage of the available ramp and automatic doors across from Macs. The first change that needs to be made is creating a more accessible route to the bookstore so that wheelchair users and people with mobility disabilities can more quickly and easily access the store. This would involve incorporating more automatic doors in the Textor hallway, as well as placing more elevators within Phillips Hall and Textor to make it easier to access the bookstore.

The next step to making the bookstore more accessible for everyone would be to widen the aisles between the clothes displays. There are aisles in the store that are definitely wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, but if someone wanted to look at clothes more closely, or grab clothes that are not within reaching distance from the main aisle, then they run into the problem of not being able to navigate between the displays.

Not only could the bookstore cut down on the number of clothes in each display, but they could make an effort to widen the aisles between the displays to make the entire bookstore more accessible. The displays, such as the one in the front entrance, could be relocated to make it easier to first get into the bookstore and then to navigate around to different areas.

Creating a more accessible bookstore will help Ithaca College become a more inclusive environment. Learning how to design stores and classrooms can lead to campus-wide inclusivity, and creating equity should be one of the primary focuses of a college campus. Everyone wants to show school pride, so let’s be inclusive and make the Ithaca College Bookstore accessible to all.