In its latest effort to make Harvard facilities accessible to disabled students, Harvard is currently remodeling the Mass Ave entrance of Widener Library.
The steps to the rear entrance are being replaced with an inclined walkway that all students, both those with and without physical handicaps, will use.
Donald A. Warner, project planner for the planning office said yesterday, "Instead of building a separate ramp off to the side for handicapped students, we are grading the whole area to create an entrance that can be used by all students."
Warner said, "In a year or two no one will even know it was ever modified to make the library accessible to handicapped students."
Adrienne Ingrum, administrative assistant to the coordinator of Harvard's project for the handicapped, said "We're trying to provide an atmosphere where handicapped students can enjoy the resources of the University in an environment that doesn't stigmatize them from their classmates."
Harvard's efforts to ensure the rights of handicapped students began in 1973 after Congress passed a law calling for the "elimination of discrimination on the basis of handicap in any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."
The Science Center, Boylston Hall and Lamont Library have already been altered in order to comply with the federal law. Watson Rink and Austen Hall are project cites for remodeling in the near future.
Stephanie K. Thomas '80, President of Advocating a Better Learning Environment (ABLE), a student group monitoring the University's progress in the area of access for the handicapped, said, "Harvard's plan is very well organized and laid out."
Warner said that within several years, "We will reduce, as much as we can, the problems students face because of any sort of physical handicap."
Thomas said, "There's no reason why handicapped people should be kept separate. People with handicaps should be able to use the same facilities as anyone else."
Funds for the program come solely from the University. The Widener project is expected to cost about $25,000.
Jack E. Cady, assistant director for Facilities, said yesterday grading the area in back of Widener will not cost any more than building a standard ramp off to the side.
The guidelines apply to anyone with a physical disability, not only those people confined to a wheelchair. Warner said yesterday, "We will provide anyone with the education he deserves. That means supplying tape recorders to a blind student or the written text of a lecture to a deaf student."