Date of Graduation

5-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Anthropology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Anthropology

Advisor

Kenneth Kvamme

Committee Member

Justin Nolan

Second Committee Member

Mary Jo Schneider

Keywords

Education, Social sciences, Earth sciences, Accessibility, Anthropology, Disability, Gis, Map, University

Abstract

The University of Arkansas was founded in 1871 on the top of a hill overlooking the Ozark Mountains, resulting in a campus that has steep slopes and numerous historical buildings that were not designed with ADA regulations in mind. This makes getting around campus especially difficult for students with limited mobility, and no campus maps exist that include handicapped accessibility features to help navigate the terrain and limited parking options. This study examines this issue using a holistic approach that explores cultural and technological factors to produce a map of the Historic Core District of campus.

Geographical Information Systems enable studying the accessibility of the campus from an integrative perspective. My research includes overlaying digitized campus features onto a Digital Elevation Model to determine how slope, distance, and placement of features (buildings, stairways, curbs) determine accessibility. Such models can help plan optimal locations for handicapped parking, bus stops and accessible entrances. They can also be used by anyone seeking to find the best route across campus. The goal is an interactive on-line map available through the University website. This would facilitate navigation for all who desire to benefit from the opportunities available on this beautiful campus by highlighting the "best" routes and options for travel and parking.

The problems surrounding navigation and accessibility on the U of A campus are not merely technical. If solutions are to be effective they will need to take into consideration the cultural factors in which these problems are embedded. These factors are multi-faceted, extending their reach through the community, student body and numerous University departments. The interplay between these players is complex with regard to the exchange of information, resource allocation and influence regarding decision making. Anthropology is especially suited for examining these cultural factors in order to improve understanding and communication between all parties with the ultimate goal of creating a campus that is truly inclusive and accessible for everyone.

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