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FutureVU presents the opportunity for the university to clearly contextualize inclusion in the built environment. Through careful space design, the university continues to develop and promote welcoming environments for community members to share differences. FutureVU provides for the creation of inclusive centers, places where differences may converge and opportunities to make healthy connections are found, while also promoting social interaction of Vanderbilt’s diverse population. 


Master Plan

In the May of 2017, the university launched a comprehensive accessibility study with the long-term goal of making indoor and outdoor areas accessible and inclusive for all members of the Vanderbilt community. The  first step of this process  included critically assessing and documenting the different accessibility features on campus. A student work force inventoried and gathered pertinent data regarding existing conditions of the built environment. Vanderbilt Facilities, along with an external consultant, imported the collected data into a GIS platform that is integrated with VU technologies and abilities.  This virtual information constitutes the authoritative database for accessibility and other issues (gender neutral restrooms, lactation rooms, showers, etc.), and will be made available to all university departments and organizations for appropriate and responsible use. VU Facilities will manage and update this database as standard operating procedure as changes occur to the built environment resulting from on-going remodels and improvements.

The university also launched the Advisory Accessibility Task Force (AATF).  Task force efforts resulted in the completion and endorsement of an Accessibility Master Plan, the culmination of a year-long planning process that included a variety of stakeholders across the Vanderbilt campus. The document articulates goals, describes the data collection process, outlines additional identified needs, reviews standards for accessible design and outlines improvements, describes the prioritization process for accessibility improvements to be made, and provides a variety of exhibits. To review the executive summary of the master plan, please click here.

The Accessibility Master Plan outlines over 1200 exterior locations on campus needing accessibility improvements, and over 4000 points on the interior of buildings. The facilities team began addressing these accessibility points, and initial progress is outlined below. A more thorough dashboard of improvements will be created in the spring of 2019 and added to this website in the future.

Progress To Date (as of November, 2018)


light poles replaced


linear feet of sidewalk replaced


doors adjusted to proper pull weight


restroom fixture height adjustments


gender inclusive restrooms on campus



Master Plan Road Show

The Master Plan Roadshow is a powerpoint presentation that can be utilized to describe the master planning process and outcomes. Members of the Advisory Accessibility Task Force are available to present to groups on campus if interested to hear more about these efforts.


Design Principles

Creating more diverse and inclusive spaces on campus is a priority of the university and embedded in the FutureVU principles. As new building projects are identified, accessibility and inclusiveness are important tenants and will be integrated into design guidelines.

West End Neighborhood

An example of this at work is the West End neighborhood projects currently in development. Creating spaces to bring different groups of people together to foster community, such as new contemplative and green spaces, is integral to the design of the West End neighborhood. A new NPHC house, that is more central within the neighborhood, as well as community event space available for all students, will be highlighted additions to the neighborhood.  In addition, t raveling from Alumni Lawn to West End neighborhood currently includes many obstacles to pedestrians and a limited number of accessible paths. Updating the neighborhood design to address these issues is key to ensuring the university is enhancing accessibility in accordance with the recommendations from the AATF. The proposed paths outlined below display routes that will be accessible in the future.

West End Accessible Paths


Another example of incorporating accessibility-related design principles into building projects are the Peabody renovations underway. The Peabody campus, and the majority of its buildings, are historic and are currently not all designed to reflect the university's inclusive values. As the design team considered renovations to Mayborn and Home Economics, the following elements were incorporated into the future design of the renovated buildings, which includes a connector between the two, to better meet the needs of all of the Vanderbilt community members:

  • A multi-stop elevator will be added in the new connector building, which provides accessibility to all floors in both buildings. There will be no difference in regards to access for a person with a disability or a person without a disability. Everyone will use the same route to enter the building and access all floors by the same means.
  • A thorough examination of all relevant items such as accessible restrooms on all floors of each building, door hardware, restroom fixture locations, signage, water coolers, and exterior access will ensure that any person with a disability is able to take full advantage of all amenities of the building.
  • As exterior grading is reworked, slopes will be eased to make the exterior access around the entire site more accessible for everyone.

Home Ec Mayborn Exterior


To read more about the West End neighborhood and Peabody changes, as well as additional building projects on campus, please visit the FutureVU progress page.



May 31, 2017: Comprehensive campus accessibility project underway

Aug 28, 2017: New task force to aid in development of accessibility and inclusion strategies for land use planning initiative

Oct 9, 2017: Chancellor’s Town Hall focusing on campus accessibility, transportation and mobility, and sustainability set for Oct. 17, 2017

Oct 19, 2017: Zeppos engages campus community about FutureVU core values, next steps

Jan 25, 2018: FutureVU begins spring semester by continuing efforts to engage campus community