Alright. Welcome to the ADA Audio Conference Series. This is the first series—first session of 2015. The ADA Audio Conference Series is a project of the ADA National Network, which is founded by the U.S. Department of Education. Welcome to today’s session, Accessible Construction Management. Our speaker today is someone that is familiar to the ADA National Network. She is a previous Director of the Northeast ADA Center. She is a past presenter at the National ADA Symposium, who will be presenting at the 2015 National ADA Symposium upcoming in Atlanta, Georgia. She is currently the ADA coordinator for Cornell University and you can find Andrea’s full bio on the ADA Audio Conference webpage at www.ada-audio.org. Following Andrea’s presentation, there will be an opportunity to engage Andrea in a question and answer session. So at this point, I’d like to trade over to today’s speaker, Andrea Haenlin-Mott.
Thank you, Peter, very much. I appreciate it. We are going to jump in and get started, just to really try to facilitate a lot of the discussion and the topics of Accessible Construction Management and sort of the perspective that I’m giving. So the goals of—for today, is to really talk about Accessible Project Management and from the perspective of beyond compliance. My role, my approach to accessibility on campus the last eight years, last nine years, I have been the ADA coordinator for facility services within Cornell University and my responsibility is I manage our barrier removal project on campus. I manage a budget as a general project management of the ADA program that is part of our overall compliance obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But, I work with project managers and construction managers on projects that are both small and large within the context of our barrier removal project. I also do extensive plan review for all projects that requests a PAR. It is a Project Approval Request form for projects that are $50,000 or over. But I also will talk about small projects and new construction versus renovation and large as well as small scale things in the overall approach to this. I will talk a little bit today about Cornell University and our—the Cornell standards that we've established for accessibility and trying to sort of have that relate to the pretty diverse audience that we have today that is representative of both architects and architectural firms and consultants, straight through advocacy organizations, as well as state and local governments and other post-secondary institutions that are really in the same boat that we are in when trying to sort of manage the whole approach to construction management and how we can really look towards a—improving our accessible construction management and when we spend the limited dollars that we have how do we do that in the most effective way. For most projects that are within the realm of their removal, but also projects that are really not necessarily intended to be barrier removal, but do have impacts within that sort of realm.
So we will be discussing the issues and the next steps as we go forward today. So I have got a series of slides that we—are really talking points to be able to do. I don't have any like large graphics. It is really an issue of discussion of the concepts and trying to understand how and I'm going to talk about from our perspective on the implementation side for the last 8 to 9 years of things we have done in terms of building of our ADA program. And in terms of our—we’re really old, entering 2015 is 150 years of existence at Cornell University and we are on the side of a pretty big hill. So we have topography issues. We have old historic preservation issues and sort of just trying to balance that with all aspects of what we do within facility services. So within this the accessibility considerations that through all phases of this construction process every step of the way. So we are not looking at how do we plan things and then step back and say okay, it is being constructed, you know, of course, it is going to be constructed exactly as we planned it. Which never really happens. What happens in that whole process? And I'm going to talk about active participation in this process by all stakeholders. In a proactive and meaningful way. So what does that mean? Who are the stakeholders that are included? And obviously it’s having folks that understand code compliance. We are in the New York State so I continually talk about the interaction of the Americans with Disabilities Act 2010 standards with our New York State Uniform State Fire Protection Building Code and that’s certainly an aspect of it, with our code official. But a lot of times we have a lot of code experts and our consultants as well and project or construction managers. It is that distinction between code compliance and ADA compliance and they are not necessarily one in the same in all of the aspects of that, but all the other stakeholders. For us, it is the transportation folks and understanding what are we talking about with new construction or alterations and the impact parking or aspects of transportation, landscape, partners—our university landscape architect, our university architect and how we are balancing with this historic preservation or other aspects of construct impact. Our planning office. Advocacy organizations within our group. We work with student organizations as well as our Student Disability Services Office. And trying to understand how that sort of fits as well as we have different owners when we are talking about different schools and doing a project within our School of Architecture and Urban Planning or our School of Arts and Sciences, those facility or personnel or the dean within that, to make sure that what we are looking to do from a construction perspective is something that we are not doing without their input as well as their partnership within that overall sense of where things are.
So what does ADA Compliant mean? You know, given the audience we have here, we have all—there’s a lot of expertise of understanding that. But from my perspective and what we are talking about it could mean a variety of things. Does it mean the minimum considerations of accessibility? Minimum standards. It is compliant. We are good to go and we don't need to worry about anything else. But—or is it accessible but accessibility was really considering—was considered at the 11th hour, an afterthought in the overall piece. It could be good accessibility but not great and what I mean by that is that, you know, there is a ramp that's there. And the ramp was designed to be one in 12 compliant but there is a lot of area that could have extended that ramp so that it is a much more gradual slope. Maybe a one in 19 ramp or something that would flow and make for accessibility or they put automatic door operators but the operators aren't necessarily in the right side of where it should be to be able to go to the top of the ramp, push the operator and allows you access in to that.
Or ADA compliant is sometimes great accessibility. It has elements of universal design and when we talk about the concept of universal design I don't have that as a separate slide, but it is something that's universally accessible and for lot of—those of us who have worked in the disability field for a number of years it is universal design is just that. It is accessible beyond this aspect of compliance. It is universally available for folks with a variety of different types of disabilities, for people who are aging, for people who are use of strollers or bicycles or those types of things. It is readily available and accessible to folks in a variety of ways. So when I talk about ADA Compliant, and this is something that most recently we had a project that I was managing on campus that was creating an accessible route in a tricky area. It was an exterior route and involved a sidewalk and a roadway and parking that was adjacent and through the years this area had really degraded and we were trying to figure out the best approach to be able to do that. And the particular consultant that I was working with he was like, “Well technically, I could get you—it would be compliant and, you know, we would be covered.” And I just hesitated for a second and I go, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Well, we would be safe. We would be okay. Nobody would be able to complain that it wasn't compliant with current standards.” And as we got through the discussion it was like well, wait a minute, is that the best accessibility. Is that something that—it is like well, technically it would be accessible and that's where it was frustrating for me because my, you know—the push that we are trying to do is with the limited resources that we have, we don't want to do something that with a couple of years of, you know, asphalt degrading, that we are going to be back in the same place we were at with not great accessibility. Whereas if we use different—a different approach, a different surfacing, asphalt versus concrete, versus, you know, it would be really good accessibility. It would be universal and it would last. And that's the balance of this. It is like, what do we do to get by? What do we do to make it really good accessibility and that something for me as a customer that lasts—that we don't have to go back and fix on an annual basis or semi-annual basis or even every five years. And that's the balance that I will be talking about with specifics and the projects that I am both involved in or that I manage.
So going on to the next slide, talking about new construction versus alterations and for us on our campus it is a process of review. We want to review every project and be able to be involved and that could be something as minimum as the installation of a new water fountain and bottle fillers. Very, very popular on our campus is to have new water fountains and bottle fillers. For those of you who work with this bottle fillers can be difficult in terms of the height approach, they also can be really difficult even with technically compliant water fountains themselves, drinking fountains. The key detection might be difficult to do. So that's one of the things that may not rise to the level of our project approval request for funding which is again anything that has a project of 50,000 fill letters or more but it is something that I want to work with our shops, work with the folks that are installing that we doing it in a way that paint detection. We are installing that bottle filler approach at appropriate height, be able to do that, as well as understanding construction impacts. And this is something that, again, with plan review on a project approval request for funding, I receive every project approval request as a notice as well as looking at the language and that's within that. Now every project request form has a section of ADA impacts. Some people fill it out, some people don’t. So when I can see that it is not filled out, then we are able to connect with our project managers or folks that are on campus that are initiating whatever the project is. Again, something that is small scale. maybe 75 or 150,000 dollars straight through to the multiple million dollar projects that have multiple steps and series with them so we can just talk about what the overall approach is. What their plan is for facilitating compliance which is such a key with new construction and alterations and that people know that there is oversight and that they are thinking of that particular project. When we first initiated that process on this campus there was a lot of push back from people that said it is a roofing project. We don't have to worry about this. Accessibility—tell me what ADA impacts there is for this roofing project. And it only took a number—a couple of times of working with different project managers to have them say and understand that it is well, wait a minute it is a roofing project, but this particular plan is to block the accessible route it is the primary accessible route around this particular building. So what's your plan if you are going to block this? How do you get people around this particular area during construction? What other construction impacts will there be? Even if you are doing HVAC repair in that particular area, but that's that person's primary accessible route between the office and say, the accessible rest room. What's the plan? What's the process? So it really forces our consultant, as well our project managers that are typically Cornell employees that are managing this whole process, to be able to have them see what is it that we are doing and what are the potential impacts. And so that whole—a lot of times, they will have on there, just, we will refer to the Cornell Standards for Accessibility or we will refer to—in collaboration with ADA Coordinator for Facility Services to really facilitate that process and make sure that things are done in a way that's considering as much as we can or as things come up that they will be able to respond effectively to that whole process.
This is—as I noticed this as I submitted this Secure PowerPoint this is actually a typo. It is “Predesign.” It is not “Preconstruction.” But it is more of a predesign and understanding this all important phase in the—in this—again, the process of understanding from a large scale as well as a small scale. The whole process of understanding where accessibility fits in the whole construction process is budgeting. Understanding what the planning and the scope is of a particular project. Again be it small scale or large scale. What is a permitting aspects of this and what permitting and historic preservation impacts will there be? We have a project that we are dealing with on our campus, with our Yuris Library, it is the old original library that was on campus. We are improving the accessible route out of this particular building. Before we even started, a lot of what we are looking to do is going to impact the exterior of one of the entrances. We went through our IFICA historic ILPC and IFICA landmarks and preservation committee. It really helped us to be able to say, “Okay, this is what we are considering.” Before we even secured our consultant we did a lot of preliminary work with them to say this is what we are thinking about doing. These would be the impacts. Would this be okay? With them we are not spending the consultant dollars on having them having to do it in the overall scope. So we continue. We started the initial conversation but also then we were able to engage the consultant in that process. So that then we spend a lot less time and energy trying to sort of re-examine where things are. At this predesign phase, we look at environmental impact statements which, again, a lot of times don't have anything to do with accessibility, but it could. And it is just making sure that accessibility as well as historic preservation and environmental impact are together. And that it is consideration that we don't forget either at this particular stage of the construction or the design process. And then finally expectations. What are the expectations? Is this something that be it one of the projects that I may manage specifically, is the expectation that we will be able to make this perfect accessibility? Full ADA compliance? What is it that we want to have our consultant do? What are the expectations for this process? And it is really important to get that all on the table at this stage.
Next is site development. Again, there is many different perspectives, what is the site and this is a big deal on our campus. Just given the topography issues and places that we are looking to do. We are in the process of putting up a new help center on the current site so that it will be occupied while during the construction process. And within that the accessibility and the topography really has some significant impacts and so we are trying to make sure that we can have that particular site, especially given the fact that it is our Health Science Center, operate in a very effective way during that construction process. And so, you know, looking at the environmental impacts at that same time through that site development process is really important. I think prior to my looking in this rule, they didn't—they didn't really consider
accessibility at that site development stage and I think it is one of those things we spend a lot of time with our planning office really looking at these types of things through our start development guidelines so that accessibility is a component of that discussion that then is handed over to a consultant.
Other aspects of predesign and through the projects that I can speak to specifically for our requests for proposals when we are looking for a design on a particular thing and making very, very clear what our expectations are on an RFP. That we are looking at, this is something that's providing improving our accessibility to this particular building or this is the expectation—this will meet the model of accessibility and go above and beyond compliance to look at all aspects and all elements of accessibility to provide that. It is really important with the selection of the design professional. There are certain design professions that really embrace accessibility and look at it as a challenge to be able to say, “Okay, let’s see what we can do to make this a model?” There are others that may try to get you around it. What do we need to do to get by? And sometimes, in certain projects, that's acceptable. Other times, it is our approach—well that's not really going to benefit us in the long run if we are just getting by with accessibility. Is that the best use of our limited financial resources to be able to do? And that sort of fits in to the whole expectation. And we are really clear on our contract language with design professionals to make sure that folks understand specifically what aspects of a compliant that we are talking about, compliant with federal, state, and those types of things, compliant with Cornell University Design Guidelines. And making it very clear that if partners need to be engaged in this process. And we are going to talk about that a little bit as we do plan review.
The first aspects of the design process is schematic design and for those of you who don't deal with this on a daily basis, this is a little bit of a balance between those who are here today that are design professionals or do project management versus folks that work in the efficacy community. So they are with me a little bit so we can make sure that everyone is on the same page. Schematic is the general scope and concept of a design. A lot of the time, it is our first step after predesign, looking at the overall scope of what is happening with this process next. It has got great implications for accessibility; it is an ideal time to really try to look at the overall direction of what is the flow. Where is the accessible route? And when I do plan design, I am looking at how does someone access? Get in to the building from parking or drop-off or other approaches, you know, areas of egress. Are they all accessible? What's the program? You know, for us it is all about the academic programs and implications of that. In terms of interior, exterior, both. Then it is the next step of access around and through the building. Access to offices. To general assembly space. To open spaces within that that may be used from an academic environment or other otherwise. Offices and those types of things. Accessible routes through that. And then finally, you know, rest rooms—spend a lot of time looking at accessible rest rooms and implications for that, fire egress, certainly. We look at other—every other aspect of it and then for us I spend a lot of time looking at schematic design plan review and providing those real specific comments and that's an opportunity to be able to provide a lot of questions as to where are we going and how does a person access this area in this particular direction. Or in the event of a fire is there, you know, what is the plan for egress in this particular point that is only accessible via stairs? What are sort of the overall directions? And that's just a great opportunity to have those types of discussions to at least raise those questions to the design professionals that are going through it.
The next step is design development and that's the solidification of the design. And this is where, depending on the sale of the project, you get your opinion of probable costs. For some of our smaller scale projects, we do opinion of probable costs at least the preliminary discussions within the schematic design. But design development is just really refining what we—what are the reactions to the comments that we provided and believe me I have provided a lot of comments that are schematic or raised questions at schematic and then I go back to the design development and it may or may not be something that is even addressed. You know, it is something that it has given us an opportunity. We have the Cornell Tech Campus in New York City and Roosevelt Island. It is pretty large scale types of things that we are looking to do within that—the first academic building that we have there. And so a lot of times, they were able to at least understand the direction that we are going and there were a couple of areas that I was like wait a minute there doesn't look like there is an accessible route to this particular area and schematic. And then design development, you saw that they were able to say no, that's not actually reprogrammed it. We couldn't provide an accessible route to this particular area without it being a significant modification of the approach.
So that's the way it is really good to look at it and have a sense of which direction and what's the relationship for us to the program, to the academic program or to the other programs that are being considered within design of the particular facility.
And then finally construction documents. And this is not the place to start reviewing for accessibility. If you have gone to this stage, it is problematic for the person, you know, who is providing accessibility comments because if you find something that's significant, then there could be significant costs going back to the design professional to really rework some of the considerations. And this has happened with a lot of folks that they are looking at something and it is like wait a minute, if you put the door to the rest room in that particular area, we can't achieve latch side clearance. There is not 18 inches of the latch side clearance to allow for that. So if you only find that out with the construction document stage, then you have to go back and retool the overall approach and it may have significant design costs associated with it. So—if you find that at a schematic or a design development stage, it can be a lot easier to modify as opposed to the next step of the construction document stage. It is really—I think the final check on access considerations and again reviewing your comments from hopefully at the schematic as well as design development stage to see what's changed or what's not changed. I thought we were looking to provide that. And so depending on the scale of the projects that we do that have this—these large scale, you know, design documents phases, we will balance them with discussions with the consultant, architecture firm, or our project management team to be able to talk about some of the areas as opposed to just providing them in a document that goes and you don't know where, you know, and we review. There is usually response time for different aspects of your comments so that you can at least see where they review but that's—that sometimes gets lost. So it is really important if you can have a face to face with your team to be able to talk about some of these issues and then you can flush them all out at the same time, to be able to do that. Hopefully all of this is done well in advance of the construction document phase.
The next couple of slides are just some things that are sort of within the checklist of things that I look at with the reviews that we do for our large and small scale projects that we do on campus is parking, bus, drop-off. Looking at what the interior or exterior as well as the interior accessible path of travel is. That doors hardware including automatic operators, signage, thresholds, reach ranges—we are doing a lot on way finding, certainly. We have a large scale project that's happening on campus that's not driven by accessibility but we certainly have a lot of collaboration with folks that are managing that particular project. Floor surfacing, is a big deal for us as well as like thresholds and we just—even though by way of example, even though a beveled threshold at—it can be compliant,. We are just finding that going through a flat threshold through, say by way of example, in and out of a toilet facility is a better way to go because it doesn't—those marble thresholds, even when designed to be compliant, aren't meeting the needs of water retention potentially. As well as a lot of folks that may be using wheelchairs on our campus have even a temporary condition that affects or it may be a long scale—large—long time frame associated with it. But they may be new to that. We had to—a brand-new constructed building within our School of Psychology—had to remove numerous amounts of marble thresholds in their rest room facilities because we had a student with a brand-new injury and not a long time wheelchair user but who could not get it in and out of the rest rooms unassisted because of the compliant marble thresholds. So those are the things that we have taken in to consideration and incorporated as part of our Cornell standards. Reception areas, dining, lecture areas, offices, and we have a lot of large scale projects that are really looking at the instruction and areas of—associated with that.
You know, how accessible is the large scale area that—for a student, but also for a—for an instructor who may have limited mobility. We have a lot of older buildings and classrooms spaces that that there is no accessible route to the front. Those are considerations. There are other ways that we can retool that construction space to make it more accessible. Drinking fountains, cane detection, protruding objects, lightings as well as elevators, toilet rooms—all elements of toilet rooms. In addition to one of the—one of my responsibilities is to really review and survey our campus facilities for accessibility so that we have a sense of how we need to institute our accessible barrier removal program. And a lot of times looking at toilet rooms, we spend a lot of time and energy understanding all elements. Paper towel dispensers, toilet paper dispensers—and we are real specific with our plan review for a large scale projects, but also for our facility staff, our shops, that are installing and redoing repairs. So that as we are doing these things they are done in an accessible manner for smaller scale projects. Areas of rescue assistance that's something we spend a lot of time, even though code might not require an area of rescue assistance if our New York State Uniform Fire Protection Building Code says that the—if a building is sprinkled, it does not need an area of rescue assistance. But a lot of times, we are balancing as to whether or not that actually is the right way to go. There have been other places that we create the areas of rescue assistance with the audio and emergency phones associated with that so that folks understand where we are going. And then other access elements. I mean this is not an exhaustive list. We have a variety of other things that we look at in the overall concept. One thing that we don't have in there is projects that we are spending an extensive amount of time looking at technology, upgrades and accessible technology in classrooms and assistive listening systems is a large project that we are dealing with on campus. And making sure that we are doing due diligence with not only the installation of assistive listening system but the proper maintenance of those systems to make sure that they are operational and compatible with some of our advanced technology and some of our real advanced smart rooms. Sometimes they don't—when we are using different technology they—it is not always compatible with the assistive listen system. So we do a lot of checks to make sure that whole process is done effectively.
I have talked about construction impacts. We talked about path of travel, closures and then occupancy during construction. Those are things that we talk about in an ongoing basis, but it sometimes requires extensive teachable moments as I say to our construction managers as well as our project managers in the planning process from the—but also with the construction process. We may run in to some additional things that we are not aware of or an exterior path of travel is planned through a particular area. But then, during the construction process they have to take some additional tests and so often people are like, “We will just throw down some wood chips and that's our good accessible route” and it is like no, that's not really going to work. We have got to come up with a better solution and lot of times this is on the fly. It is not something that we have extensive amounts of time to come up with things. And then there's been times that we spend additional resources to make sure it is a true accessible route. Creating not usually concrete walk ways but asphalt walkways in a way that then has to be removed at post project but that's the type of planning and budgeting that we have to do to make sure that that whole process is done in a seamless way. And, you know, for us, our big deal is our construction window. A lot of time that we spend on campus is trying to figure out ways to do construction that has as much limited impact while our students are not here and so for us it is waiting until after our reunion in June which is usually the first weekend in June and then having to rush to try to get everything done between that time frame when the—after reunion but before the students return at the end of August or mid-August, in summer se—for orientation. So it is a really tight time frame that we have to try to get different projects done that may result in road closures or directing people around a particular area as well as multiple projects that are happening on campus at the same time. This summer we are—there were certain things that we are looking to do that right now aren't going to hit our summer window that we are planning for 2016, just because there may be six projects that are happening in our ag quad to able to do that and so it is like we can't cut—close down that walkway because it is the only walkway associated with that. So that's going to be pushed to a 2016 schedule. So those are the types of things with proper planning and proper impact—involvement in all of our stakeholders—including utilities—that was another stakeholder that I didn’t mention earlier, included in the overall process.
I want to talk a little bit about experiential equity. And this is something that we've—that I've actually worked with a number of groups on campus and consultants in trying to understand what is our overall approach and the concept is: are people with disabilities able to have the same experience as people without disabilities? You know, experiential equity and I think the best example that I have for this is we have, as I had mentioned earlier this is coming upon the 150 anniversary or sesquicentennial. Activities are happening this spring and summer on our campus. And as part of it we created—we have consultant come in last year and create a sesquicentennial grove and it’s over—if anybody is familiar with our campus, it overlooks our large slope that goes down and then you can see in the distance the Cayuga Lake, sort of shed and that's really what—it is a beautiful spot and they wanted to create a sort of a memorial grove in this particular area so that we could have it be similar to our statues that are on campus, that are more of a monument area. So they were—we started the whole process and again very early stage of site development as well as schematic designs, and they were talking about this particular area and one section of it a lot of the benches and different words that creating the different sayings that were part of this overall grove of benches and stones that were in the sloped area—were down sort of not accessible—they were down a series of steps. And I asked the question, I’m like, “Well how is that going to be accessible? How do we—what’s the overall experience we are looking to create?” And, “Well, like a person who has limited mobility, can just look down on that.” Like, “Well, that's not equitable access.” That's really something that, you know, is there a way that we can have that primary function of what we are looking to do all at one level. So that we are not necessarily having something—because they were saying, “Well, you can sit up here and then you can just look down over that.” But you can—but—in order to do that properly the size of the lettering of the—of the different sayings and statements that were being made that were being installed wouldn't have been accessible. You wouldn't have been able to see that. So it was more of—if this is a similar concept to universal design, but again, are we creating an experience that is similar to that for people with disabilities than it is for people without disabilities and how do we create that sort of concept? And we have used this in different areas. And lecture spaces, performance spaces on campus and trying to understand and this is something that we really push the envelope a little bit with folks to be able to say think about the experience and if you are a design professional or a project manager, think about it from the perspective of a person with a disability. Is that the same experience? Is it a similar experience? Is it okay that it is not the same experience? And in some respects it may be okay to have it not be the same exact experience or but is it equitable. And that's the overall concept and it is certainly not something that then received or embraced in every aspect of it I can say. But it is something that's a concept that really talks about the beyond compliance. Is this something that really we can be proud of? And that's one of the things when we are talking about our sesquicentennial growth. They were able to create an overall experience that happens to be accessible. We looked at it at one point between schematic and design development and all of a sudden a step appeared in that process that wasn't there before and so we are able to say well, no, this step. There is an accessible route to it. I'm like well, no is there any way we can make that one level area ,that again, you can have a person with a disability using crutches or a cane or a walker or a wheelchair sitting with their peers. So that there is not like a different level of accessibility associated with that and everything is all at one area and it is something that we can be proud of and promote and really look at the types of things that we have got.
So the application for experiential equity. It is certainly easier with new construction. Maybe with existing construction that may not be something we have done. As many of you know and this has been a concept of accessibility and with ADA compliance and then well in advance of the existence of the ADA, we have looked at this. It is expensive to construct and it is expensive to design and to construct. So making sure that things are done in accessible manner is key. And I know so many of us that work in this field, either directly or indirectly, look back and say missed opportunity. We should have looked at—when we redesigned this entrance, yes, we have another accessible entrance in to this building but with a little bit of modification this could have been an accessible entrance as well. Why didn't we think about it in that way? And again, you know, there may be a variety of factors. Cost associated that allowed us to make those modifications or maybe it was just something that was an oversight to be able to do and again looking at 25 years of existence of the ADA I think this is the next step. It is more looking at how do we create similar experiences? Yes, there are complications and it is not an easy way to be able to do that but it is the whole concept of you taking universal design and personalizing it. And understanding it from that first person perspective. I welcome other questions on that when it comes to do the question and answer time.
We have got only a few minutes left here of the presentation. Value engineering, this is something that happens when—it is a whole overall concept where the accessibility is included or there is different aspects of the design that are included but through either the design process or—in the midst of the construction process things are value engineered out, meaning they are removed. Costs may be limited. We had this recently on a large scale project on campus where there was supposed to be a ramp installed in a particular area and then all of a sudden the ramp just never appeared and it is like wow, where did this—where did the ramp go and I was like oh, we ran out of budget. We didn't have money in the budget for that or we thought someone else was covering that cost. So a lot of times things—what can be the first to go and that may be accessibility. It shouldn't be certainly. Anything related to a certificate of occupancy under the building code or something that's really required for accessibility, but when things are looking to be value engineered out it may be—maybe we had certain things on campus that it may have been—which again in this Northeast environment, it is something that we have seen air conditioning go out of some practice facilities or different areas. And so there are some pitfalls to accessibility associated with that. It is an issue of code compliance versus universal design. You have got to look at it and see what are—what are those areas as you are doing value engineering, you know, what—are there any potential impacts for accessibility if things are eliminated.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about allowances. But it’s one of the things that we—that I have ongoing discussions with all of the time with our—with my construction managers on the projects that they are managing for me, as well as project managers, is allowances. You know, when—and this is, you know, when construction occurs, you know, things happen in the field that change and then we just had a large scale ramp concrete ramp installed. So, in the overall design process we were looking at it and said, “I'd like you to design so it is not the minimum standards. Do not design for a 1 in 12 or 8.33% design for a 7% ramp or something that's not—we had real estate to work with, meaning there was a lot of space around this particular area that could have—that was—allowed us to really do a nice gradual ramp. Again ramp would still require handrails and other things but let's look at that. But then in the midst of a pour, there are certain aspects of it that were right at 8.33%. A couple of the areas of the ramp as a switch back that was involved, that was closer to 7% but then we went to 8.33%. So it is all of those things that overall oversight management of that overall process is key. This is something that we do with the construction process for projects that are being constructed either with an outside contractor or as well with our own staff that do different renovations and maintenance projects on our campus. You know, when we created the Cornell design standards for accessibility, there's a standard within the 2010 ADA standards accessible standards and so we picked absolutes. So that when we are looking to be able to—if there are certain ranges for the height to grab bars, ranges for center line of a toilet, ranges for many different elements within a toilet room. We picked absolutes so they would be able to—from a new construction perspective. It’s a little bit more complication with alterations depending on field conditions. But no real specifics, so we can look at where things are installed in the proper way. So that we are hitting the Cornell standards but also making sure that if they have to vary from those Cornell standards at all, that we are perfectly within the—both Interstate Building Code and the 2010 Guidelines for Accessibility. So that's a type of things we will spend a lot of time in the field actually looking at where the—I—the hardware is being installed, where the toilet hardware to make sure that that—that carrier for a toilet is not going to be out of range because there is nothing worse than spending all of that money on a brand new toilet and having it be two inches lower than what the standards have found. So we spend a lot of time with our contractors with our design professionals making sure that we are picky and I say we are picky and we are picky for a reason because we don't want to spend any money of your time or of our time going back even though, you know, all of our contract language says that you need to be perfectly compliant when construction occurs. Some strange things happen. So that takes us right to the end of the time that we have. There is a lot more I could certainly talk about but I wanted to be able to get through the overall pieces that we're doing on our campus and at least give it some more perspective from understanding and making this a real comprehensive process for construction management to make sure that we are doing things correctly. So we are not spending double the time of design to be able to make things accessible in that design process. We are not spending money and resources to undo elements that are not accessible, don't meet the ADA standards or our New York State Building Code Standards and then our overall process to improving accessibility.
One thing I didn't talk about that I just want to mention that it is another component of this is; it sort of fits in to construction management a little bit. We do also a review, it is called an Event Registration Form Review for all projects and activities that happen on campus. So that as people develop programs or activities—that could be our student, it could be a president's office—that they have to fill out this event registration form and talk about accessibility and how they are making that program service or activity accessible. So it sort of fits in to the other components of it but we also review that and talk about accessibility from a programmatic sense. So that's sort of one component that we do to try to ensure accessibility. Peter?
Thank you very much for all of that, that great information. We are going to open it up to questions at this point. For those of you in the webinar room, again you can click on the chat area to enter your questions and submit those, hit enter or you can use the key stroke function control M that will put focus in the chat area, submit your question, even though you can't see your question. Once you have submitted it, it is viewable by the moderators and presenters. And Sherrie if you want to come on now and give the telephone participants instructions on how they can ask questions, please.
Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, if you have a question at this time please press the star and 1 key on your touch tone telephone. If your question has been answered or you wish to remove yourself from the queue please press the pound key. Again to ask questions please press star then 1.
Alright, Andrea, while we’re waiting for questions to come, to start with one. How important have you seen it at Cornell, regarding the development of consistently applied policies? I know from personal experience being at a large academic institution that there have been situations where, you know, disability organizations have, you know, gotten certain things done regarding alterations or projects but then staff changes, things change and without consistent policies in place some things tend to, you know, fall through, you know, with future projects. How has that been addressed at Cornell in your experience?
It has been something that—for us it is really—when I was part of the ADA Technical Assistance Center at Cornell for 11 years before I came to the Facility Services Side of Cornell, they had different approaches to accessibility. Different ADA coordinators and folks that would do implementation and then when I came here we sort of reestablished sort of our approach. For us, we created a three-part ADA Coordination Team. I did with the Facility Services as well as the disability strategic planning component of it but then we have someone obviously in Student Disability Services that deals with Academic Accommodation and someone in Human Resources that deals with more of the employment accommodations, to be able to do it. So we established this disability strategic planning so that it—and it involves a variety of participation. The six areas that we are looking to do are technology, employment, emergency planning, physical access, educational programs and I think the final one was employment, I think I repeated myself. But so we are doing it so that it is not one-person focused. Which really trying to look at more of the whole overall holistic approach to accessibility. So that it is not something that falls through the cracks when one person happens to leave and then we are able to create systems in place that allow for that. Does that answer your question?
Yeah. As a quick follow-up, did that type of model that's in place, did that come out of having a, “You know, champion" within the administration or was it done out of the perspective of this is a legal obligation that, you know, to meet that or was it a combination of different factors?
I think that's a great question. I think it was a combination. For us, the fear of a lawsuit only gets you so far. Of a lawsuit, 504 complaint or a DOJ investigation, a lot of people are like if we don't do this we will get sued. Well that only gets you so far and gives the perspective of, what do we need to do to get by? Or looking at any consent decrees that we have seen from other types of groups. So Cornell, we looked at what other peer institutions have done when they have had 504 complaints or Private Rights of Action but and then we also thought about what fits in with our overall value system. You know, what is it that, you know, makes sense for us budget wise to allow us to, you know, allocate resources for barrier removal, but also, you know, beyond that aspect of it. So it is then a sort of a varying degree but we do have a lot of champions associated with this. We have an executive steering committee on disability that involves all of our senior administration and leadership from the provost office. Every vice-president of the institution, you know, except for some, you know, we have the provost office as well as other folks that are a part of this and they are part of our strategic planning perspective. So it is sort of multi-facetted and that it is not necessarily fear of a lawsuit but we certainly watch how other people are faring when they are either sued or investigated.
All right. Let me go to one more question within the chat area before we check the telephone for questions and this questioner wanted to know how you deal with the issue of—they indicate they have a lot of outside installations by outside companies with regards to vending machines, displays, display racks where those, you know, protrude in to the accessible route, either limiting the width of the accessible route or becoming a protruding object for someone who is blind or has low vision and how is that particular aspect managed at Cornell?
That's one of the things that we spend a lot of time talking about because protrusion in to an accessible route is a big deal. And we have multiple training for folks to understand what we talk about in terms of cane detection. We have a lot of examples of where it has not been done well. So we—it is just oversight and again protruding objects can be hard to see in a plan view prospect perspective, too. When you are looking at plan review, you can't necessarily always see where an object is going to be protruding greater than four inches or things get installed overnight. All of a sudden, we have had televisions that have been installed in hallways that it is like well, wait a minute, certainly less than 80 inches. And from the finished floor, wait a minute have you thought about that. So there's multiple means of which that we have tried to address it as well, as for us it is eye wash stations in a lot of laboratory areas. That’s one other are—we can spend the entire session talking about for post-secondary institutions talking about laboratory access. And eye wash stations is one of them. A lot of times they are in a hallway and they are protruding objects and how do we create accessible routes. We have gotten pretty creative with trying to make them both accessible from a pull station perspective, from a seated position but also making sure that they are not a cane detection barrier.
One more question that sort of ties in to this, another chat question. Someone wanted to know do you conduct regular surveys of your existing facilities to monitor the accessibility of those areas?
Yeah, we do. We have a large scale project on campus. It is called the Facilities Physical Needs Management System. Of course, it has got to have an acronym. The FPNMS. And so the FPNMS is something that we have our primary buildings reviewed annually and this allows us to understand some of the large scale budget issues but it is not just for accessibility. There is an accessibility component of it. Which is great, that’s the way that we want to do it; it is not like a separate but equal process. It’s a process—I mean we look at air handling units from paint, windows—you know all aspects of a building system and accessibility is another component of it. So that we are able to capture our deficiencies and know from a budgeting perspective what are large scale. There are certain buildings that hardware, floor hardware is a significant issue we deal with. We don't go through a building and look at okay we are going to switch out all the hardware in this particular facility. Because that doesn't make sense from a barrier removal perspective but at least we have an understanding where large scale deficiencies are and how do we address the signage or the hardware in that particular area. It is another thing, too, from a maintenance perspective it is hardware switched out, as signage is switched out, it is done in an accessible way. So that's a way that we address some of our accessibility deficiencies that are indicated on our annual FPNMS review.
Great. Any questions on the telephone at this time?
We have a question from Matt Norris. Go ahead with your question.
Hi. I am an interior designer, I am concerned about aesthetics and comfort and sort of [inaudible] perspective. I am wondering from the predesign level to the development phase, what types of pushback do you receive from contractors and budget managers to offer aesthetics, more curve linear, ramps, and less linear and geometric accesses? Meaning how much meandering are you able to add to the design without getting can a pushback?
That's a perfect perspective. How much meandering, I am going to use that in a discussion with a design professional. It just depends on the issue and we spend a lot of time, I actually—we have a School of Human Ecology and a program within it called Design and Environmental Analysis. And it is one of those things that we spend a lot of time looking at aesthetics and lighting and different—and with the overall scheme is and a lot of times that the working with our interior designers, we are sort of partners in that overall approach of understanding it is like okay, if this happens to be accessible what are the aesthetics associated with that? And that's where—there is always pushback if we ask for things that are well beyond the accessibility requirements. But that's where that balance between universal design and accessibility. It is not too often that the anterior design and accessibility requirements clash but it is more of how do they create some biotic relationships in terms of things that happen to be good on the accessibility. You know, say for lighting for a person who has low vision and whatever type of environment we are trying to create in a classroom or office space or general assembly space, those types of things.
I guess the question—the answer is it depends.
There you go. A quick question before I check the telephone again about allowances in terms of, you know, talking about construction tolerances and what is too much. But I think that the more important part of the question, the participant's question is do you require, you know, the contractor to go back if the, you know, if a ramp is outside of the allowable construction tolerances or outside of what the—what was specified?
Yes. We have had to do that. And we've actually had in different areas where we'll have a second or a third party review of different ramps because it is like wait a minute, and being a wheelchair user myself I can get on it and usually tell if it is something that's good or out of compliance. Just with the years I have had with pushing up different ramps. So we have just had to. And again, that's why the contract language is important to have there—and again with something that was designed appropriately a lot of times we will have to go back and look at that but also if it was designed, is it something that falls within the construction tolerance area or is it something that the contractor has to go back and do. We had that recently with a centerline of the toilet and the centerline of the toilet it is this range of 16 to 18 inches from the wall. And we were 18 and 13, 30 seconds off. So it is 13/30 seconds out of compliance. We have to make it accessible. It is something that was really—one of our partners with code enforcement office was pushing to be able to say, you know, we have 16 to 18. If it is off, it needs to be fixed and the contractor had to fix it. Thankfully they were able to fix it without a large scale wall renovation but if they weren't able to get to that range of 16 to 18 inches without any large scale modification there, that's what they would have had to do.
Okay. And that's standard language that's in your contracts with your contractors whether it is the design professional or the vender or the company that's actually installing or make the alterations?
Yeah. It is in the contract language but also we are making sure that we are through review—that through the different stages of design review that we are trying to catch certain things. So that we are not, again, going even though it says in the contract language that we need to provide accessibility. We are not waiting to the 11th hour to find out oh, we didn't. So that’s why, it is sort of a multi-phased approach.
Okay. Sherrie, do we have another question on the telephone at this time?
Yes, we have a question from Pat Dylan.
Go ahead with your question.
This is actually Stan with Pat's group with the [inaudible] Commission on Disabilities. Cornell, IFICA has had a lot of historic building, probably landmark. What's your approach or what have you been doing to make some of those buildings ADA compliant and modifying those historic buildings? How do you approach that and what kind of problems have you faced?
That's a great question, because it is—you know we are and—a lot of areas that even—there is a couple of projects that we are working on with our Willard Straight Hall which is our Student Union and it is not on the National Registry of Historic Places, but obviously even if it may or may not be we don't want to do anything that will certainly threaten or destroy the historic integrity of the building. So it’s a balance and something that we do—just do due diligence with and making sure. So a lot of times it is in looking at where's the primary elevation, obviously there's parts of our Arts Quad where some of the three original buildings on campus, that we are not putting ramps in the front primary ornamental staircases to be able to do that. We created—and actually some of that accessibility has been there for a number of years whereas we are able to create accessibility that provides an accessible route to the facility but doesn't necessarily affect the historic integrity of this space. So it is something that—it is very much a partnership. We were looking at providing an accessible route to a large—how general can I say here? A large residence that also had dining facility in this and one of our consultants said well, you can just cut through this particular primary window facade which gave our, you know, gave certain people palpitations and said there is no way we are going to cut through that window to create an accessible route via ramp to get to it. So it was like, okay. Even though a consultant that was specialized in historic preservation said that it would be fine. We were able to find another accessible route into this particular facility that really met the needs and also allowed for the creation of a good primary accessible route and a brand-new toilet space—toilet room space—that would allow it to serve that particular function area. So it is a balance. It is not like we are saying, “Okay this is the only way!” It is like okay, we are—this is not an option and it would threaten or destroy the historic integrity of this particular place. We look at multiple perspectives on that but also trying to figure out what works best and I think the key is the partnership with folks. So that again and a lot of times in my experience the solution is somewhere in the middle. It is not saying okay we can't touch the building because it is historically significant or saying, you know, that here's historic significance. We are going to make it accessible in any way we can. It is trying to find that balance back and forth between the two and a lot of times I always say there is a solution. There has got to be a solution somewhere. The key is finding that and making it work.
And this question relates to some of the changes in the 2010 standards from the previous standards, the primary one being, you know, reach ranges going up under the previous standards you could have a 54 high reach for a side approach. Now, for both the side and forward approach a maximum reach is 48 inches. And how are you at Cornell dealing with those? Obviously there’s safe harbor language in the standards and regulations that allow you to leave elements that comply with the 1991 standards. Are you leaving those elements until there’s a plan alteration or are you including those as you conduct your annual reviews of building facilities?
It’s a great question. A lot of times that we, you know as we identify deficiencies, and I think the primary area that we see quite often is with paper towel dispensers and a lot of them were installed so that the operable part was at 54. And so w just are noting that as we are renovating, as modifications are made, those are being moved down to be able to do that. Making sure that, again, some of them that we have noted and that we have made modifications to were not even—would not fall in to the safe harbor aspects of it because they moved them in at 55 or 60, which is not accessible for anybody really. And so we make those modifications initially, you know, as soon as those deficiencies are noted. As we do that, and in new design and construction obviously, I’m real—much a stickler to those elements ‘cause those aren’t always on an elevation plan or they will pull up the 2010 standards and they will just cut and paste on a plan and just say, “We are going to comply with all these things.” And so then we will bring in our Cornell standards and say to the design professional make sure that these are included to able to do that. But also, making sure that that balance between the design and the construction because soap dispensers, I mean all of those picky little things are a huge issue and a lot of times are not really followed as tightly as they need to be. So we do a balance of both. We make modifications as we see fit but we do note if deficiencies are there for that reach range.
And that's an excellent point that you make about existing just because something is existing doesn't mean it falls under safe harbor because you may have something that is mounted above 54 inches so it doesn’t even fall under the safe harbor. So that's an excellent point, that they—that folks need to be aware about it. Sherrie, do we have another question on the telephone as we are getting closer to the bottom of the hour?
We do have a follow-up question from Matt Norris's line.
PETER: Alright, go ahead.
I have a question that deals with the design impact. With the Wounded Warriors being more apparent and the government supporting that wheelchair accessibility has routinely been rear entry. In other words, you stay in and pivot. But more and more, engineers are coming up with front entry wheelchairs that have a folding flexibility to them, somewhat like a Segway, and you strap yourself in so it’s just much easier to front load from the bed or chair or from the toilet. Will that impact design and have you considered that? The second question I have is for low vision clients, do you have any concrete research that supports environmental conservation and using a naturalized LED lights whatever and the cost of retrofitting all of the fixtures on campus?
Wow and we only have five minutes left, or four minutes left. Peter, I don't know if I can catch all of that.
Let me try. With regards to—the whole question of I think it is more of a universal design and the change of structure in wheelchairs. We have a researcher on campus. His name is David Feathers and he does a lot of universal design discussion and biometrics of really understanding wheeled mobility and the impact. We certainly talk—I talked to his class and we pulled him in on a lot of our discussions in the overall sense. But that's not something that I deal with on a day-to-day basis. I think that would be a question for future revisions of IVC or ANSI 2016, 2017 comes out just to be able to talk about how that element of wheeled mobility as well as other types of devices will impact design to be able to do that. Because I have to say as a wheelchair user, you know, a lot of the ways that people show—people transfer, say to a bed or to a toilet it doesn't always mean that that's a way that everyone always transfers. I think that people do it in a variety of ways in whatever way works for them and then the second question about lighting, I think that is an area of significant concern. I know that we make and this is sort of the—sort of the accommodations model that we were trying to move beyond within our university setting. So that we are not providing accommodations but rather that universal design modality so that we are designing things that happen to be accessible and lighting is one large component of that. And we spend a lot of time for our exterior lighting as well as interior lighting discussions and right now it is more at the accommodations model and I’d like to see it go well beyond that so that we are looking to include and again I'm not—that's not my area of expertise in terms of the lighting component and making sure that that things are done in a way that accommodates folks with a variety of disabilities. But I just know that it is an area that needs a lot more research. At least in my opinion from the implementation perspective that I can bring.
Alright let me get to one last question here before we hit the bottom of the hour. You talked about way finding and just curious, is there a mechanism that you have in place to update, you know, the folks at Cornell that are doing the online maps or the apps that allow people to identify accessible entrances, accessible parking when you are doing alterations or when a construction project is upcoming to notify the users out there that there are going to be interruptions in their normal routes?
Right and it is one of those areas that we have spent a lot of time and resources and we have a GIS specialist that works with us on updating our mapping on campus but it needs to be updated significantly and it needs to be a lot more dynamic and to accommodate the mobile applications but also to be the model of accessibility for folks who use elements of assistive technology and I think it is one of those things that I think we are looking and with a way finding project that we are doing to make it a lot more dynamic so that it is not one dimensional.
All right. Well, we have reached the bottom of the hour and I apologize to those of you who didn't have an opportunity to have your question addressed. We had just lots of questions. Just a fantastic topic and great presentation and information from Andrea and want to thank her profusely on behalf of the ADA National Network for giving us her time and expertise on this topic. As a reminder, the session is being recorded and the audio archive will be made available within 24 hours at the ADA audio home page. And an edited transcript will be available on the Web page within several weeks and that's www.ada-audio.org. Again, the audio conference is a project of the ADA National Network. You can contact your regional ADA center. So if you have any follow up questions that come about as a result of today’s topic, you can contact your regional ADA center by calling 800-949-4232. As a reminder, our next session in the ADA Audio Conference Series will take place on February 17th and the topic for that session will be “Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Employees.” You can find information and registration information for that upcoming session by visiting www.ada-audio.org. If you have questions, you can contact the Great Lakes ADA center at 877-232-1990. Again, on behalf of the ADA National Network, I want to thank Andrea and I want to thank all of you for participating today. We look forward to having you participate in future ADA Audio Conference Sessions. This will conclude our sessions. Those of you in the webinar room can close your webinar browser. Thank you and have a good day.