Breaking Barriers: Accessibility Failures in UI Students’ Union Building and Beyond

By: Toluwalope Ayeye

Being a student of the University Of Ibadan, journeying on the path of academic excellence can be quite challenging. 8 am classes, increased transportation prices, and then canceled classes are just some of the few hurdles an average student gets to face as they navigate the few years they have to spend as students of the university. There are, however, students who, along with the struggles of the average student, still have to go through the troubles of navigating their way to their different classes. Seeing special needs students going around the University, maybe in your class or hostel, is nothing new. They might make up just a minority group in the university’s community, but they still are part of it. For these students, studying at the University of Ibadan, where the structures and buildings are difficult to access, makes it even harder for them to navigate their journey of academic excellence. 

The Kunle Adepeju Building is not Accessible to all

It is not just the faculties that pose accessibility challenges for students with disabilities at the University of Ibadan. The University of Ibadan Students’ Union Building ( also known as the Kunle  Adepeju Building) which is meant to be a second home to all students, is also a particularly difficult place for students with special needs to access.

{One of the staircases in the Kunle Adepeju Building}

Upon arriving at the SUB, students are met with flights of stairs, which can pose a significant challenge for those using crutches or wheelchairs. While this may not seem like an issue for able-bodied students, it can be a struggle for students with mobility impairments, further highlighting the need for accessible facilities on campus. Since we have two staircases leading up in this building, one of them can be purposefully ramped to make it easier for students with special needs. That way, it could be said that the Kunle Adepeju building is inclusive of all students within the University. 

Challenges of Navigating Through Classes

The University of Ibadan is a community riddled with academic excellence and an impressive number of buildings allocated to each faculty to make the learning experience for students better. For students like Ruth who get around in a wheelchair, this might not be as easy as it seems, and the learning experience is even more challenging because of the buildings’ structure. According to her, It can be a bit challenging moving around because so many areas in the school are not accessible, i.e., stairs and all. It’s quite frustrating most times.

There are only a handful of buildings with structures for easy accessibility by students with special needs, especially physically impaired students. Depending on the location of the Large Lecture Theatres in some faculties, the LLTs can be accessed easily or not by the students in question. Unlike some LLTs that are situated in multi-story buildings, some faculties which are bungalow structures have been designed to promote inclusivity. In particular, the Social Sciences which houses Ruteh’s department has two entrances to its LLT: one with a short flight of stairs and the other with a small ramp, making it easily accessible for students with mobility challenges. The faculty of law similarly has a Lecture Theater, accessed through a small-sized ramp in the front entrance and a staircase through the back. In contrast to the Faculty of Law and Social Science, the LLT located in the Department of CLA within the Faculty of Arts presents a challenge for special needs students. Access to this LLT is only possible via two flights of stairs, making it considerably more difficult for students with mobility issues to attend classes or events.

{An inclusive entry point in the Faculty of Arts}

Asides from the Large Lecture Theatres,  some departments and faculties still present accessibility challenges. Most notably, most of the University’s departments have classes in story buildings, making it difficult for students with mobility impairments to access their classes.  However, there are some exceptions where the University has made efforts to provide accessible facilities for all students. The Department of Special Education in the Faculty of Education is one such example. It has been designed with ramps that make it easier for special needs students to access classes and other facilities. Additionally, in the Faculty of Arts, a ramp has been installed next to a flight of stairs leading to the bathroom, several classes, and the Nescafe stand. This accessibility feature enables students with mobility impairments to access these facilities readily.

Troubles in Accessing the Hostels

In addition to the faculties and the Student Union Building, the hostels at the University of Ibadan also pose significant accessibility challenges for students with disabilities. Unlike other facilities on campus that have made efforts to provide ramps or elevators for students with special needs, the hostels do not have any accessibility features that make them easily accessible for those with mobility impairments. For many students, accommodation in the University’s hostels is an essential part of the university experience. However, for students with disabilities, this can serve as a significant obstacle. 

During an interview with Ayanwole Boluwatife Joshua, the President of the Special Education department at the University of Ibadan, he acknowledged that several structures on campus are not easily accessible to students with special needs. However, he commended the University for already having some buildings with ramps in place, which he sees as a step in the right direction toward promoting inclusivity on campus. He also highlighted the presence of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) outside the University who are willing to provide support for students with disabilities, potentially including the provision of accessibility features on campus. In addition to these plans, Joshua hopes to rebuild the Special Needs Students Association, which is currently non-functioning. By doing so, he believes that students with disabilities can have a stronger voice on campus and advocate for their needs more effectively.

In all, universities must recognize the importance of accessibility and prioritize making necessary improvements to ensure that all students can fully participate in their academic pursuits. Creating an inclusive environment that accommodates the needs of all students is essential in promoting equity and diversity on campus.


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