Virginia Tech begins accessibility initiative

This project will address the north academic portion of campus

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Some students at Virginia Tech don’t think twice about getting to class. But for those with disabilities, the 2600-acre campus can be daunting.

That’s why this month, Virginia Tech is starting the first in a series of accessibility projects.

VT spokesperson Mark Owczarski says this is a long time coming.

“Southwest Virginia, by its very nature, is very hilly,” Owczarski said. “It’s up down. It makes it more challenging for people with physical disabilities to have the access that others may have.”

The first project is installing elevators to access the north academic portion of campus — a site that is currently only accessible by stairs.

“It’s a big step because it represents a solution to one of our greatest physical barriers that we’ve had,” he said.

Tallie McGirr minors in disability studies at Virginia Tech. She says her classes often analyze problem spots on campus.

“There are only stairs to get to Hokie Grill, so anyone with like a wheelchair or even someone that’s like blind has a really hard time getting up the stairs, let alone someone who’s, like, able-bodied,” McGirr said.

McGirr says she worries about all of the construction on the north academic side of campus making things more difficult for those with mobility issues.

“It’s kind of a little bit more like inhibiting in a sense, because you have to put a whole bunch of construction, which can be a little bit more difficult to maneuver around. But I think overall, like once it gets accomplished, I think that would be so nice,” she said.

Owczarski says this improvement will allow more opportunities.

“I think it’s empowering,” Owczarski said. “I think it provides the access to everything that Virginia Tech has to offer without the frustration or the concern of a specific barrier.”

The project is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2024.

About the Author

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.