A new UCSB study shows that only a third of disabled students find the on-campus walkways and bike path crossings safe, and over 70 percent believe that across-campus transportation is inadequate.
The study, led by psychology professor and department chair Daphne Bugental and Gevirtz Graduate School of Education professor George Singer, stemmed from concerns over access issues for disabled students and faculty.
According to the survey, only 23 percent of the respondents said bike paths and crossings are “safe and barrier free,” while 33 percent found walkways to be safe. Other problems noted by those surveyed were “inadequate access to wheelchair-accessible bathrooms and classrooms” and over 70 percent of the respondents revealed they considered transportation to and across campus problematic.
Currently, Bugental said UCSB is the only UC campus without an adequate transportation system for disabled students.
“We have no means of intra-campus transportation for those who are permanently or temporarily disabled,” Bugental said. “All other UC campuses have some means of transportation that serves this.”
Bugental said navigating the busy UCSB campus filled with skateboarders and bicyclists can be overwhelming for those with disabilities.
“Picture someone with limited vision or hearing, or with a mobility limitation trying to negotiate campus as it currently is,” Bugental said. “One could say that individuals on bikes or skateboards will always avoid them. Unfortunately, they don’t always do this. … There was a reported case of a blind student whose seeing eye dog was hit and seriously injured by a skateboard.”
In response to the survey, Singer said he hopes a well-developed plan, including proper allocation of UCSB funding as well as faculty support, will be created to ease transit complications for disabled students and faculty.
“I think that UCSB should develop a 10-year plan for meeting the needs of students, faculty and staff who have disabilities,” Singer said. “A percentage of the capital budget should be designated for making necessary improvements to buildings, sidewalks and bike crossings.”
Meanwhile, Disabled Students Program Director Gary White said DSP is constantly seeking ways to ensure that those with disabilities are accommodated.
“There’s a lot of energy that’s going on about transport in general around campus,” White said. “We’re trying to figure out what to do for it. DSP is doing a lot to make sure that those with disabilities are comfortable and included. We are always looking for ways to make bikeways safer.”