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The path to equal access – Uncovering challenges and opportunities on York's Keele Campus

The path to equal access – Uncovering challenges and opportunities on York's Keele Campus

by Sandhya Suryanarayanan

Audit boundary: South section of York University's Keele Campus

This research was done as part of ENVS 6128, Urban Transportation Planning in the Winter 2023 semester. Dr. Mahtot Gebresselassie was the course director. The aim of the study was to examine disability accessibility on York University's Keele campus. This summary highlights some of our findings. Our group focused on pedestrian crossings and signals, exterior furniture, equipment, and street elements.

We audited the southern section of the Keele campus across multiple intersections on Pond Road including Sentinel Road intersecting at Assiniboine Road, Atkinson Road, Seneca Lane intersecting at Fine Arts Road, and James Gilles Street.

As a group of five, we conducted site visits to audit significant components such as ramps, slopes, trails, pedestrian sidewalks and pathways, entrances and exits, parking, public transit, and resting areas among others.

Our audit was primarily based on a detailed checklist provided in ‘Section 1 Exterior’ of the Toronto Accessibility Design Guidelines that aims to support inclusion of people with disabilities by recognizing barriers to access within the immediate surroundings. We assessed several factors from a safety and accessibility perspective:

  1. Pedestrian Crossings and Signals
  2. Parking, Vehicular, and Departure Areas
  3. Exterior Furniture, Equipment, and Street Elements

During our audit, we discovered a mix of compliant and non-compliant attributes for all the factors assessed. We found that most Exterior Furniture, Equipment, Street elements, and Parking, Vehicular and Departure Areas met acceptable standards with scope for marginal improvements.

Accessibility features were, however, severely lacking for Exterior Paths of Travel and Pedestrian Crossings and Signals. Lack of tactile surface indicators for some stairs and ramps and the absence of rails poses a critical safety hazard, especially in snow and rain conditions. Pedestrian crosswalks, on the other hand, had either faded or had no crosswalk markings, while visual indicators for countdown timers were dim, and many of the signal control buttons and audible cues were non-operational.

Conclusion and Recommendations

This audit highlights several opportunities to incorporate and improve accessibility around York's Keele campus. Our main recommendation is to conduct a quarterly visual inspection and audit of the campus by relevant university authorities to ensure accessibility gaps are filled. Some specific recommendations, however, include: a) Adding tactile surface indicators at the top and bottom of all stairways along with rails where missing; b) periodically painting the crosswalks at all intersections; and c) ensure proper functioning of audio buttons and visual timers at signalized intersections, especially during extreme weather conditions.


Group A members

Sandhya Suryanarayanan is a MES Planning student specializing in Community/Social Policy and Planning and interested in participatory planning processes focusing on accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Elijah Leotaud is a 1st year Planning student in the MES Program and is interested in policy planning, recreational spaces, and equity.

Luciano Marchesan is a Masters student in Civil Engineering with a focus on Transportation Engineering.

Steven Kakaletris is a MES Planning student with research interests in planning sustainable transportation infrastructure, land use planning and finance.

William Overholt is a 1st year Planning student in the MES Program and is interested in transit-oriented communities & public transportation.