THE INSTALLATION of wheelchair-friendly doors in the Student Centre is expected to cost approximately €15,000. The decision to install the doors was made by the Student Centre management last year in an attempt to make the building accessible to all students. Although details have yet to be finalised, the wheelchair accessible doors are expected to be located at the front doors to the building and will be in place by the end of this month.
Student Centre staff member, Charlie Solan, explained that it had been “an initiative of the Student Centre itself”, instead of the university, to begin planning the the construction of the new, lighter weight doors. “The planning really started about five months ago and we’ve been waiting to get involved in it and so currently [we’re in] the tendering process,” said Mr Solan. “It’s actually just come to the finalisation stages of it now… [and in] two to three weeks, we should have it finished and up and running.”
He explained that the doors will be automated and “accessible for everybody to come through”. Mr Solan described the access system as consisting of “pedestals and barriers whereby anyone in a wheelchair can just press the button and open the door, however the doors are low energy which means that when the button is not pressed they can be used as a normal door.”
Mr Solan defended the Student Centre’s original installation of heavier doors, saying that the building “was never seen as having an issue with the doors at the time although the authorities that were looking at it in terms of the planning stages.” He explained that the heavy doors were originally installed to prevent rain from entering the building as well as minimising heat loss.
Stating that the building has good access facilities, Mr Solan stated that “the Disabilities Office would recognise this as one of the much more accessible buildings in UCD.” He contrasted the Student Centre to other buildings in the university saying that, “[compared to] some of the other buildings like the Sports Centre or the Science Building, this is actually one of the most successful because it only has two levels and when you go upstairs you have the lifts.”
Mr Solan described the project as an “in-house” decision denying that management has received any complaints in relation to the doors. “We’re just looking at the whole access system, especially now with the new Student Centre being built.” He acknowledged that there were some issues that needed to be resolved to avoid any complaints in the future saying that “we wanted to get ahead with this [and] lead a little bit rather than follow.”