Despite the recent increase in the number of universities in Turkey, universal accessibility is questionable. Disabled students can only study at the departments that they can physically access, not the departments they choose. There are a considerable number of disabled students that live and study under very difficult conditions. According the World Health Organization research about disability every 15 people out of 100 are disabled. For this reason, the government has started supporting projects to improve the physical environment of university campuses.
In Ankara, Turkey, Hacettepe University is one of the first universities dealing with this issue and implementing related projects. The following projects are carried out at the university:
- Instructors from different departments, architects and engineers, have determined the current conditions of the campus with the participation of post-graduate and disabled students, while specifying places where disabled students cannot access;
- Research was introduced to the university’s staff, through an exhibition, to inform the public and create awareness regarding the issue;
- After the determination of the situation, some projects were put into practice immediately. These included:
- Special walking lanes were located on the campus main roads and stairs for visually handicapped students to help them find their ways;
- Special computer laboratories were established within faculty buildings;
- Lifts were built for the orthopedically handicapped students and ramps were placed at building entrances;
- Design spaces for orthopedically handicapped students (for their wheelchairs) at the conference halls;
- Special lifts were placed for climbing the stairs in faculty buildings;
- Visual warnings were placed at the most crowded parts of the campus roads especially because of the traffic for deaf students.
After these projects were finished in 2011, a discussion was held with the disabled students. They stated that they were very pleased about the implementation and that they feel more free and confident on the campus, but there were many other things that needed to be realized. These project are a starting point and apply only at specific places on the campus. It is important that all department buildings, dormitories, and shopping areas be accessible on campus.
It is necessary to ensure that our cities, started by the universities, are accessible, sustainable, and live-able by everybody. Especially when we consider that there are 8.5 million of disabled people live in Turkey.
What kind of applications does your city apply to design for an inclusive city?
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