Most who have been on Agnes Scott’s campus this past year have seen the blue, tarped fences around Rebekah Hall and heard the occasional sounds of metal-on-metal. Students and faculty alike have long waited for air-conditioning in the residence hall and for the office to be restored; however, the changes are exciting for a much more important reason: accessibility.
“I think it’s going to be great,” said CJ Montgomery ‘20 and Student Government liaison for The Office of Accessible Education. “It will be a lot more accessible than the other residence halls on campus.”
The changes to Rebekah include everything from a new elevator to a wheelchair accessible ramp and wider doorways at the entrance facing the main loop, which were some of the biggest challenges to maintaining its historic integrity.
“Trying to preserve the historic nature like the trim (finishing pieces surrounding the doors) work mostly has to do with the outside of the building,” said Patrick Paige, the architect for the project. “Porch modifications are done in a way that makes it look like the ramp is part of the building and not tacked on, and the actuator and key scanner that mechanically open the door are easier to put in with a newer building. For Rebekah, it is an extra layer.”
There are also two rooms that receive audio-visual notification from a small doorbell connected to a device inside that flashes for the hearing impaired.
The bathrooms saw big changes as well. There are new restrooms throughout the building, including gender neutral restrooms. Each floor will have two private showers, separate from the communal bathrooms.
“The coolest thing are the bathrooms, which will actually meet ADA requirements,” said Montgomery.
The question arises of when other buildings will be brought up to the same standard.
“There is a college commitment to improve accessibility on a more comprehensive basis,” said Marti Fessenden, Special Counsel to the President and Title IX Coordinator.
The college is currently working on hiring a consulting firm to examine Agnes Scott’s facilities.
“In the interim, the college addresses accessibility issues as they are raised,” said Fessenden.
Photos courtesy of Karina Leung ’18 and SGA President.