Architectural Accessibility and Robinson

Robinson Secondary has many ramps and elevators. However, these ramps and elevators are often unreliable, as there are only two accessible elevators- one in the E-wing and one in the B-wing. There is another elevator next to door eight, however that elevator is inaccessible to students. The E-wing elevator has had people stuck in it, which is why many teachers avoid using it altogether. The B-wing is just like most regular elevators but with slightly sketchy level buttons. However, it’s the only elevator in the middle and high school subschools. Ramps also pose an issue, as people who rely on them report having to take longer to get to class due to their inconvenient location and that they’re too steep. Is Robinson truly accessible? 


The E-wing elevator is almost treated as a horror story, with some faculty reporting on its creepiness and even some proclaiming that they will never go on it. The elevator has an old, dingy golden color with an ominous fan on the ceiling. Making a creepy off-tune “ding” sound, the elevator jolts up randomly and many have reported getting stuck in it. In addition, when arriving at the desired floor, the elevator doors often take a lot of time to open. It’s also important to note that the E-wing elevator is the only one in the entire D/E-wing area, far away at door seven. Students relying on the E-wing elevator will have to go all the way to door seven to reach the upper or lower D/E-wing areas. Senior Brook Lilavois, a student who relies on the elevators, was stuck on the E-wing elevator for 45 minutes to an hour. “I was mainly just annoyed because I was missing lunch and I was just like ‘get me out of this elevator, I’m missing lunch,’” Brook said.

The B-wing elevator is definitely less creepy. However, the B-wing elevator is the only one in the entire family of subschools, making it very difficult to get to with the crowded hallways. It’s also important to mention that the entrance to the elevators are right in front of the lockers. In the morning and during passing times, the locker bays are very crowded, making it hard for people who rely on the elevators to reach them. The B-wing elevator is also the only way for a disabled person to go up and down the levels conveniently. While theoretically, to avoid the elevator, one could go through the main entrance and then go to entrances two or three, it would be extremely inconvenient. On November 14, the B-wing elevator broke, leaving many people who relied on the elevators stuck upstairs since the elevators are the only way to get to the upper subschool. Because of the lack of ramps that go to the upper or lower subschool levels, the students who relied on the elevator were left with an inconvenient way to go up or down levels, as people in wheelchairs had to be carried up or down the stairs. “I had to have someone literally help me up and down the stairs after every class which was very tedious and also sometimes there wasn’t anyone there [to help] so I had to wait for someone to come, so I would end up late,” Brook said. Luckily, the elevator was fixed four days later. 

So, how old are these elevators? Mr. Evers, an administrator for the school, provided important insight about the age and reliability of the elevators. “The school was built exactly 50 years ago and was renovated 30 years ago so the elevators are at least 30 years old,” Mr. Evers said. “They’re pretty reliable; the county has a contractor that just maintains elevators for schools, so if we have a problem with an elevator, they call the contractor. The contractor is really reliable. Typically if we have a problem, we call the call contractor and they’re here within the hour. This company has people assigned just to schools, so they know if an elevator goes down and it’s a school one, it’s a big deal.” As for the E-wing elevator? “I think the problems vary from going bad, to wear and tear, to sometimes user error. I think in a lot of cases, it’s just wear and tear,” Mr. Evers said. Fortunately, according to Mr. Evers, the school should be getting a huge renovation in the next six to seven years. 

Sophomore Kace Quigley is a disabled student at Robinson who uses the elevators. “I’ve never gotten stuck but I’ve been close to getting stuck,” Kace said. “It wouldn’t open for a few minutes. They’re really creepy and not well-maintained, and it’s very scary to use them.” 


Robinson has 10 ramps on the middle and lower levels of the school and there are no ramps connecting to the upper wings. This does not include the trailers. Kace also uses the ramps. “I will say that there are some areas where there should be a ramp and there isn’t, like the stairs near the gym,” Kace said. “I can’t cut through those stairs [in the ram oasis area] so I would have to go all the way around. It’s not very [easy to go up the ramps]; a lot of the time, I have to use the side railings to pull myself up.” 

How long does it take to get around the school? 

An experiment was conducted to see how long it would take to go from B226 to the upper E-wing near the E-wing elevator. It’s important to note that since the experiment took place during an instruction period, the hallways weren’t as crowded as they normally are. The results found that a person using crutches and relying on the elevators would take four minutes and 14 seconds to complete the course, and a person not using crutches and using stairs took two minutes and 13 seconds. Neither person carried a backpack. An able-bodied person not using the elevators took half the time to go to the E-wing than a person with crutches using the elevator did. During the experiment, using the elevators took a while, especially the E-wing elevator, which exhibited the same creepy behavior mentioned previously, jolting randomly.

Many students who rely on the elevators have difficulty getting to class on time.“I can’t,” Kace said. “It’s really hard to get to class on time because part of it is that I go to school in TSRC (Transition Support Resource Center) except for electives. The TSRC is in the trailers, so I come all the way up from the trailers. The parking lot is really uneven and there’s a big, long ramp to get up in a wheelchair. There are only two elevators in the entire school, and if I need to get to subschool 11, then I have to use the elevator located in subschools nine and 10. Then, I have to go all the way through the hallways to get there. It would be way easier if there were more elevators, but I kind of understand why there aren’t; it’s an old building and they’re expensive. The elevators and ramps are definitely helpful and if I didn’t have the elevators and the ramps, I wouldn’t be able to get anywhere at all.”

In addition to Kace’s experiences getting around the school, Brook had a hard time getting to class in a timely manner. “Often, I’m late to my creative writing class,” Brook said. “My class is all the way in the E-wing and I’m trying to travel from the B-wing to the E-wing, which is across two elevators. It’s not awful, but sometimes it can be very frustrating because when I’m going from one wing to another.”

Both people believed that they were given appropriate accommodations for their disabilities, like. being able to leave class early to get a head start. “If I’m late to class, they’ll be like ‘oh it’s fine,’ and I also have other accommodations for mental disabilities; those are great too,” Kace said. “I get great accommodations for my mental disabilities and when I need an extra accommodation, I can ask and they’ll say ‘sure.’” 


While Robinson does have ramps and elevators, they are often unreliable. It shouldn’t be too hard to imagine why this issue poses such an issue to the overall well-being of those who rely on these accommodations as the lack of reliable physical accessibility can make them late to class. Luckily, it seems that teachers give disabled students accommodations including letting them leave their classes early to get a head start. The school also provides mental health support to those who need it. However, Robinson desperately needs more elevators, better quality ramps, and safer, more reliable elevators in order for Robinson to be t

ruly accessible. Unfortunately, there has always been harassment towards disabled people in the hallways, and in general, because of prejudice, some able-bodied people do not see their fellow disabled students as potential friends and humans but instead as an inconvenience. Hopefully, with the renovation coming soon, all of these problems will be fixed, but for now, teachers, students, and the school should continue to give grace to disabled people through accommodations and basic acts of kindness.