Screenshot of Anna Bard, Darrell Mattingly, other students

Routing a Path for Everyone

A group of students and HDI employee, Darrell Mattingly, led by HDI Disability Program Specialist Anna Bard, set out on a mission last year to map accessibility on campus so that everyone — no matter how they’re navigating — can have the information they need to get around campus efficiently. In the fall 2016 semester, UK Facilities Management’s Facilities Information Services will unveil the new interactive campus map that includes accessibility attributes and can route an appropriate path depending on a user’s needs. 

“I think that this reaches all people and that’s what we’re trying to do as a community, as a university,” Bard said. “We are looking to engage a diverse student body and we’re looking to enhance workplace diversity and inclusion and to send the message to people with disabilities, and really all people, that we want to provide this information so that your campus is most usable to you.”

“It sort of sets up your entire day,” Bard said. “If you can get to where you need to go quickly and you can do it fairly easily without struggling through multiple options or spending your time moving all through campus or all the way around the building — I think that you’re going to show up to class or your meeting a little more motivated.”

Noting that student success has been linked to how students plan their day, Bard said if students with disabilities are able to accurately schedule their classes — knowing the routes between each and the amount of time spent traveling —they have a better shot at being successful.

The initiative is already having an impact on the students working to collect data, helping them understand how people navigate space and instilling in them the value of creating a welcoming environment for every individual.

The accessibility and mobility features collected by the HDI team will be implemented into the official interactive UK Campus Map, online and in the myUK Mobile app, and that’s where UK Facilities Management’s Facilities Information Services takes over.

“I’m not aware of any interactive or dynamic accessible maps on other campuses, not quite like this will be,” said UK GIS Coordinator Michelle Ellington. “I think it will level the playing field for anyone needing to find their way around campus.”

“It’s an exciting project requiring out-of-the-box thinking,” Ellington said.

Exciting, and meaningful, for everyone involved.

“There’s all sorts of people navigating our campus and if we can help them do that quickly and safely, then, you know, we’re all better for it,” Bard said.

Read the entire story by Whitney Harder, Amy Jones-Timoney, and Kody Kiser at UKNow.