An Assessment of University Infrastructure Impact on the Safety of Individuals with Physical Disabilities at the University of Texas at Austin
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Personal safety at the University of Texas is an increasingly popular topic of conversation between students, staff, faculty, and University administration. Concerns stemming from the recently passed “Campus Carry” legislation and the on-campus murder of an undergraduate student that occurred in the spring of 2016 spark debate over the utility of various safety resources currently available on-campus. However, the accessibility of said resources is hardly addressed. Per the 2010 U.S. Census, over 15% of U.S. adults identify as having any physical functioning difficulty. As the University of Texas campus hosts tens of thousands of adults each day, this thesis was conducted to address the flowing overarching question: How does the physical infrastructure of current safety resources on the University of Texas at Austin campus impact the safety of students, faculty, and staff with physical disabilities? To address this question, a survey was developed based on 2 semi-structured interviews gauging safety concerns with individuals from the disabled community, news articles documenting the use of campus safety resources, and University published documents. The survey underwent content review by 4 subject matter experts in areas such as civil engineering, campus diversity and community engagement, and the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990. Social media platforms such as Facebook and email list serves for various groups at the University of Texas were used to distribute the survey. It is expected that the results of the survey will indicate the perceptions of current and former students, faculty, and staff will underestimate the prevalence and use and overestimate the accessibility of certain safety resources mentioned in the survey. This thesis highlights the motivation for this work, survey development, deployment, and results, and intended future work.
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