Students Question ADA Accessibility on UTRGV Campus

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BROWNSVILLE – A student claims a University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campus was holding classes in at least one building not structurally in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS discovered that although the building does not have an elevator, it doesn’t mean the school is breaking the rules.

Although schools are expected to comply with all ADA requirements, construction or making architectural improvements aren’t required to if the school can bring the student access to the class in a different way.

Some students CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with at the UTRGV Brownsville campus still don’t think it’s fair.

“In some of the buildings, there aren’t elevators. In others, the doors are way too heavy for someone in a wheelchair to push and they don’t have the buttons to make it accessible,” explained Leslie, a third-year UTRGV student.

Leslie is a disabled student and did not want to be identified by her last name. She said there’s a list of issues the school should address to be more inclusive to everyone.

“Some students do have a difficulty accessing the buildings and it gets to a point where they have to get a class in a different building because they’re not accessible,” she said.

UTRGV confirmed in a phone call Wednesday classes are held in a room on an upper floor of the Garza Gym. The building does not have an elevator.

UTRGV said the Garza Gym is leased to them by Texas Southmost College. Although the building isn’t structurally in compliance with the ADA, they said they can still hold classes there.

We looked it up, here’s why:

The Americans with Disabilities Act says making structural improvements to an existing building like installing ramps or elevators is one way of achieving program accessibility. It’s not required if there are alternative means of achieving program access, like relocating a class or activity to a different room or building, or bringing the activity directly to the student.

Students such as Leslie still want to see the school make some changes.

“Everybody should have the right to go to their particular classroom or reach any building at the university,” she said

UTRGV has a special department for student accessibility and ADA services.

It includes a webpage where students can submit an accessibility accommodation request or file an accessibility concern or complaint.


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