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Professors Disappointed Over Wait For Accessibility Improvements
October 24, 2006

FREDERICTON, NEW BRUNSWICK--Faculty members with disabilities at Canada's oldest English-speaking university this week expressed disappointment that their school has not made accessibility the priority they believe it should be.

English Professor Diana Austin, who has multiple sclerosis, and German-language Professor Chris Lorey, who has used a wheelchair for the past five years, told CBC News that the administration at the University of New Brunswick is not working fast enough to make its Fredericton campus accessible to faculty, staff and students with disabilities.

Both professors are made to teach in the three-story Carleton Hall, which has no elevator. That means that Austin has to climb 27 steps to get to her first class. It has also meant that Lorey had to rely on others to be carried up and down the stairs to his third-floor office until the college purchased a stair-climbing iBot wheelchair.

Austin said: "I honestly thought when my colleague a few years ago was in a wheelchair and had to actually be carried up the stairs, by friends and students and colleagues, I honestly thought that all anyone had to do was bring that to the administration's attention and say, 'There's a man being carried up the stairs, and that's a legal liability, that's a human indignity, and I thought next summer we'd have our elevator.'"

"It never occurred to me that it wouldn't work like that," she added.

A March 2005 accessibility audit found that people with disabilities could not access most of the school's buildings. It also concluded that UNB had "fallen behind" other public institutions in the area and across Canada in making accessibility improvements.

That audit put Carleton Hall at the top of its list for improvements.

"UNB buildings 'impossible' for staff with disabilities" (CBC-News)


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