By Samantha Smith
Youngstown State University’s Accessibility Services is a department on campus specialized to help students with any disability including, but not limited to, physical, medical or learning disabilities. Assistance on campus includes an accessibility cart service, provided by the YSU police department, for those who need help with transportation.
The free student service, called Student Security Services, provides accessibility carts for students, staff and faculty. Lt. Bryan Remias, university law enforcement supervisor, elaborated on the Student Security Services’ duties.
“We have student workers that work for the police department that operate the handicapped carts you see on campus transporting people in need of assistance,” he said. “This service provides students, faculty [and] staff that are not able to easily navigate campus due to medical or other conditions, a safe, reliable way to get from one campus location to another.”
Remias said the carts may not function as often in the winter months because of extreme weather, but the Student Security Services has other alternatives to assist those in need.
“Unfortunately, there have been a few days this year the carts had to be parked due to extreme weather [such as] cold temperatures,” he said. “The carts are open-air and not heated so, for the safety of our student staff, we will not drive them in extremely cold conditions. Also, if the carts are not available, our student workers are still able to transport clients with our wheelchairs.”
Along with the Student Security Services, handicap buttons at the entrances of buildings’ doors are provided to help as well.
Remias said the officers make sure to periodically check the handicap buttons throughout the university when preparing the campus in the mornings.
While campus police officers will check buttons, the facilities staff are in charge of fixing and ensuring all buttons work.
John Hyden, associate vice president of facilities and support services, explains the procedure the facilities workers check the handicap buttons.
“Everytime I go through a handicap door, I like to check it,” he said. “We try to get most of our staff to do that. Sometimes people think that we’re just lazy because we’re standing there pushing the button to walk in the door. ‘Why don’t we just grab the handle?’ We do it so that we can check the operation of it.”
Hyden explained the amount of time it takes for the buttons to be fixed if one is found to not work.
“If it’s just the batteries — which it typically is — or just the button, that’s a pretty quick fix,” he said. “Sometimes, when the internals of the operator go bad, sometimes it’s quite a time before you can get the parts for them. So it could be a week, it could be a month.”
Hyden said the facilities department tries to keep the common parts on hand for this reason, but if there is a major issue or the entire motor of the operator is wrong, it will take time for the button to be fixed.
He also said the facilities department works with students and staff who use the handicap buttons to tell them where one should be.
“Currently, I have a student that I’ve been working with for several years and rely very heavily on his opinion,” Hyden said. “A few years ago, we went around campus and he pointed out some spots that he thought were critical, and we put operators in.”
If anyone finds a handicap button not working, contact the YSU facilities office to let it know where the button is located. To contact the facilities office, call 330-941-3239.
“Though it’s not an [Americans with Disabilities Act] requirement, it’s a requirement for us,” Hyden said. “We think that it’s important.”
For more information on Accessibility Services, the facilities department or the YSU police department, visit their websites.