The Torchbearer is now more welcoming, thanks to a ramp that has been installed at the iconic statue in Circle Park.
The ramp allows for increased accessibility to the statue for those with limited mobility. The Torchbearer was erected 43 years ago and, until now, there was no way to get to the statue without going up or down a number of steps.
“This site is one of the most photographed places on campus, and now people with physical disabilities can get up to the platform to have their photos taken, too,” said Sherry Bain, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling. Bain, who suffers from a neuromuscular disorder that makes it difficult for her to climb steps, recently penned a thank you note to the university for adding the ramp.
Jenny Richter, UT’s ADA coordinator, said construction of the ramp was prompted by a suggestion from a staff member who became aware that a visitor was unable to reach the statue.
“With a campus like this that is old and hilly and was designed over an extended period of time, long before the ADA was in place, it can be difficult to see and know where all of our problems are,” Richter said. “Sometimes it just takes someone from the outside to make an observation and let us know about it so that we can put into motion the mechanisms to get those issues taken care of.”
Richter said concerns or suggestions about campus accessibility should be directed to either the Office of Disability Services (865-974-6087), or the ADA Coordinator at the Office of Equity and Diversity (865-974-2498).