New ramps help disabled NIU students

By Sheryl Cajka

NIU students with disabilities will find it easier to get around Neptune Hall thanks to the new wheelchair-accessible ramp.

A ramp installed in Neptune East during the winter break enables residents who use wheelchairs to have access to other areas in the hall, said Sue Reinhardt, coordinator for Services for Students with Disabilities.

Although the exact cost of the ramp has not been determined yet, it was budgeted at $33,000, and came from the Neptune Building Repair and Replacement Reserve, said Jim Bryant, interim director of Architectural and Engineering Services.

“It is part of an ongoing effort to improve accessibility,” he said.

Reinhardt said the ramp was suggested several years ago to Student Housing Services in order to open various floors for students who use wheelchairs. Before the ramp was installed, a law student in a wheelchair could not live on the law floor because of the inaccessibility.

“It wouldn’t have been a practical place to live,” Reinhardt said.

The ramp allows students to get to the service’s offices, which temporarily are located in Neptune East. Students also will be able to get to Neptune Central’s cafeteria, she said.

“In the past, they would have had to go out and around the building just to get to the cafeteria,” Reinhardt said.

No plans have been made yet as to what to do with the floor after the service moves back to the University Health Center, said Jack Felver, associate director of Student Housing Services. Felver said the area might be used for other offices or for handicapped student housing.