The University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) educates a student body of approximately 4,000, with more than 500 students with disabilities. Many of the University’s building are original brick buildings built in the 1850s and are inaccessible. Since 2007, the University has spent over a million dollars in upgrades to provide an accessible environment for students, staff, faculty, and the thousands of Islanders who use this space every year.
With this Barrier Buster grant, UPEI will be able to complete the remaining infrastructure requirements in 10 buildings on campus that would result in half of the campus being designated ‘Full Mobile Accessible’. Some improvements include insulating exposed pipes under washroom sinks to prevent injury for people who use wheelchairs, lowering activation handles for fire alarms, installing strobe fire alarms. While individually these improvements are minimal, each one represents a very real, everyday barrier for a person with a disability.
UPEI is a beautiful campus with many original brick buildings built as early at 1854. While many of these heritage buildings infuse our campus with character, their accessibility is an issue and pose significant challenges to our current students. UPEI believes that everyone should have access to education in a safe and inclusive environment and it’s our desire to create a campus free from everyday logistical and physical obstacles that may hinder a student from making the most of the pivotal life experiences had during post-secondary education.
More than 500 students (about 11% of our student population) are registered with UPEI’s Accessibility Services. This project gives us the opportunity to highlight what students can accomplish when the proper environmental and academic supports are in place. The project will make a significant difference in the day-to-day lives of these students, and will provide equal access for all. UPEI is also a community hub for community events, and these upgrades with impact thousands of people who visit the University.
The best thing is that it brings our students one step closer to successfully completing their education in a safe and inclusive environment. Completing a university degree is an incredible challenge in itself, and removing any additional barriers for students with accessibility requirements in a proud accomplishment for us.