Pitzer dorm signs contain non-raised braille

One of the signs at West Hall at Pitzer College does not have raised braille, making it useless for students with visual impairments. (James Karsten • The Student Life)

Pitzer College students have discovered that some dorm signage contains braille which isn’t raised, rendering it useless for students with visual impairments.

Signs marking all of the stairways in East Hall and the northwest stairway in West Hall are non-tactile, meaning indecipherable by touch. The braille characters are printed without any texture on the signs, so there is no way for a student to feel them.

Other signs in East and West, such as room numbers, do contain raised numbers, letters and braille characters.

Pitzer Student Senate passed a resolution Sunday calling for the non-tactile signs to be replaced as soon as possible.

“It’s an issue of accessibility,” said Eamon Morris PZ ’22, who authored the resolution. “I think it speaks to accessibility as a problem with the Claremont Colleges in general.”

The signs may render Pitzer’s buildings out of compliance with 2010 revisions to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which state that stairways must be identified by tactile signage.

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“If it’s not a building built for everyone, then it isn’t really fully functional,” Morris said.

Pitzer spokesperson Anna Chang said in an email that facilities staff are working with the Office of Student Affairs to ensure signage is code compliant.

Director of Residence Life Kirsten Carrier declined to comment on how the issue originally occurred.

Morris said Carrier told Pitzer Senate that they are working to replace the signs, which have apparently lacked tactile braille and lettering since East and West opened in 2012.

“The signs were installed by a company when the buildings were near completion and were to be replaced shortly after the buildings were finished,” Pitzer Student Senate President Clint Isom PZ ’20 said in a message. “Obviously the signs were never replaced, and now Pitzer and myself are working hard to track down the missing signs to solve this unfortunate issue.”

Isom expressed gratitude for the students who brought the issue to light but said he found it “unacceptable” it had taken so long.

“The fact that no one noticed for 10 years is an awful problem,” Morris said.

Disclaimer: Morris is a TSL opinions editor.

This article was last updated Dec. 14 at 1:38 p.m.

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