Has the university drawn up a clear plan to make the buildings accessible?

Following the problems at the Langeveld Building, the university promised it would draw up an action plan that would be used during the Tinbergen renovation. At the time of writing this, this plan is still in development. According to a press officer at the university, the Real Estate & Facilities unit will ‘really get to grips with it’ this year. However, that means the plan will not be ready by the time renovation starts.

In developing this plan, ‘we will involve the IDEA Center (for inclusion, diversity, equal opportunities and accessibility), the Studying with a disability team and Human Resources’, the press officer wrote. Additionally, the university follows an accessibility standard called NEN-ISO 21542, which stipulates, among other things, the layout of passenger lifts, the height of controls and desks, the weight of doors, floor roughness and the contrast between walls and floors. These standards were also followed for the Langeveld Building, though, so they are not exactly a guarantee of success.

What exactly went wrong with the Langeveld Building?

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The standards for the Langeveld Building were drawn up by EUR. The contractor was then responsible for design and execution. According to the contract, EUR could only check whether the building met the standards set after the building was delivered. As it turned out, the building did not meet these standards.

Following delivery, it soon became clear that wheelchair users could not use the toilets in the new building, because they were too small. The doors from the central hall to adjoining hallways turned out to be fire doors – because of this, they were heavier than usual and almost impossible to open for someone in a wheelchair. The grey floors, grey walls and grey stairs were a nightmare for people with a visual impairment, as they had difficulty seeing where stairs began and ended.

Were students or staff with disabilities involved in drawing up the renovation plans for the Tinbergen Building?

This was supposed to be the case, but it did not turn out that way. Real Estate approached several students and staff with disabilities, hoping to compose a ‘balanced sounding board group’. “Unfortunately, this did not work out, as various students indicated that, while they would like to, they did not have the time”, the press officer wrote. In the end, in consultation with the available members, the choice was made to dispense with a sounding board group, as it would not have a balanced composition. This means no individuals with disabilities were involved in drawing up the plans for the renovation. There was, however, still a task force to monitor accessibility, including an architect, an external accessibility expert and university staff with relevant knowledge and experience.

If the action plan has not yet been made final, and renovation is about to begin, won’t the university repeat the Langeveld Building mistakes?

The press officer suspects this will not be the case, since the construction process has been organised very differently this time. “During the renovation of the Tinbergen Building, EUR will be contractually involved in every part of the process. That means it will be possible during the design phase, in which the accessibility task force is actively involved, to determine whether everything complies with the NEN-ISO standard. As soon as the project has been definitively awarded to a contractor and construction starts, regular checks will take place to monitor whether everything is going as planned and whether the accessibility standards are actually being implemented.”

tinbergen renovation artist impression 2024 foto EUR

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