New plans for SHAC address ADA violations

Brittany Hoffman | The Spectrum
The SHAC was built in 2016.

Facilities Management Director assures violations will be fixed in 2020

The North Dakota State University Student Health Athletic Complex, otherwise known as the SHAC, has gained attention after the U.S. Attorneys office found violations against the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as reported by Valley News Live.

NDSU has received complaints about the lack of accessibility available for disabled individuals. A recent settlement agreed upon by NDSU states that the campus has until the end of the year to fix the violations. Some of the violations required to be fixed include adding wheelchair seating.

NDSU Facilities Management Director, Michael Ellingson, confirmed that the SHAC will update seating to be accessible for wheelchairs by the end of the year.

Though originally the complaints said that there was no accessible aisle seating, Ellingson said there was some confusion.

“The accessible aisle seating is there right now, the issue that was stated in the complaint is that we just didn’t have them all labeled. The contractor went back and labeled them all…,” Ellingson said adding that labeling the seating was part of the contractor’s job, but was missed.

In terms of wheelchair seating, Ellingson said plans are still being developed. “Our target is, we have until the end of the year to comply with all that. We’re going to try to finish all of that earlier.”

When planning for new buildings on campus, Ellingson elaborated on how disabled individuals’ needs are accounted for. “The first step is we just need to understand what is the function of the building, what is the program of the building.”

“Once we understand the function, the purpose, the size and all that, then we look at all codes, all regulations, all laws and all rules,” Ellingson said. “It’s everything from mechanical to electrical to fire suppression to ADA to everything.”

“We’re trying to look at what we can do and in my opinion we made some strides.”

Michael Ellingson, Director of Facilities Management

When asked how the university will avoid this mistake in the future, Ellingson said “We’re still investigating everything that transpired, but one of the things that we just have to make sure of is that everything gets done according to the original sub plans and that there isn’t really deviations or something didn’t get forgot.”

Though the SHAC was built four years ago with the violations being discussed currently, Ellingson said, “They were recognized right away. You will find that the first communication we had was in December or January (2017), but NDSU will be putting a document out shortly, an update on things and this will be in there. We were all ready to go in 2017,” Ellingson added.

When looking at other possible violations against the ADA on campus, Ellingson said that they are still working on some of the older buildings.

“I think as a society, you go around the whole community here and there’s just challenges. For us, we have some challenges, we have some buildings that don’t have elevators in them.”

Ellingson went on to talk about the steps they have taken to meet ADA requirements by discussing what has been implemented on campus over the years.

“We’re trying to look at what we can do and in my opinion, we made some strides. We’ve added a lot of bathrooms on campus. We’ve added a lot of the rebel strips outside for the sidewalks. On a yearly basis, we visit with the Registration and Records and the Disability Services to find out where people of needs, where their classes are so we can do snow removal and make that a priority.”

Ellingson also added that newer buildings like the A. Glenn Hill Center have labs that are set up in order to meet ADA requirements.

“We plan for it in new buildings, but we are going through existing buildings and making modifications,” Ellingson said.

While the new seating is being put in the SHAC, the building will continue to be used as the university is working around activities to complete the project.

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