What’s your job? Campus accessibility with Top Tantivivat

What’s your job? is a series focused on the work of FP&M employees. As the largest and most diverse nonacademic unit on campus, it can be challenging to learn everything our division is responsible for. These stories shine a light on FP&Mers and what they do to keep campus safe, sustainable and successful.

Man smiles at the camera, wearing sunglasses.
Top Tantivivat, Facilities Access Specialist. Photo by Veronika Dethart.

Ever wondered what’s going on behind the scenes to make UW–Madison an accessible campus? Top Tantivivat, Facilities Access Specialist with FP&M’s Campus Planning and Design department, is a key player in aiding with issues of accessibility.

Top’s position involves ensuring campus is ADA compliant for all, whether it is students’ access to classes, employees’ access to work or visitors’ access to the wide variety of events and activities across campus.

While Top’s job is guided by the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) standards, he emphasized the importance of going above and beyond those standards and using universal design to make UW–Madison’s campus the best it can be for all individuals.

“My responsibility is to ensure that campus is accessible to all physically and facility-wise, not just for students or employees but also for visitors and those who don’t come on campus regularly,” Top said.

Top has worked at FP&M for 15 years and partners with the McBurney Disability Center on campus, which assists students and visitors who have disabilities and/or need accommodations. He also joins forces with the Employee Disability Resource (EDR) office, which coordinates disability accommodations for employees and applicants.

Top collaborates with other members of FP&M’s Campus Planning and Design department and has an intern who helps him with design. He also works in tandem with many other departments within FP&M, from Transportation Services to the Office of Sustainability.

Behind Bascom Hall, Top Tantivivat discusses accessibility route signage with Director of Campus Planning and Landscape Scott Utter (not pictured). Photo by Veronika Dethart.

One of his tasks is helping individuals with disabilities on campus get to class or work when there is harsh weather, especially during the winter. When campus receives a snowfall or is facing icy conditions, Top teams up with the Grounds Crews and other Physical Plant employees to develop priority routes for individuals with disabilities to get where they need to go. He also works with these employees to determine which areas are most critical for snow removal, salting and sanding. Sometimes, these areas on campus intersect with city property, so Top coordinates with the City of Madison to clear those areas for individuals who need access.

Top said that one of his favorite parts about the job is the people he gets to work with. He also noted the variety of facilities on campus.

“Campus is a very diverse place,” Top said, noting that campus has everything from a stadium to research labs to daycares. “I enjoy that tremendously.”

One of Top’s most memorable projects was working to accommodate a veterinary medicine student who used a wheelchair. This included identifying equipment and resources that would allow this student to complete veterinary school, such as a large animal operating room. Top said that in general, seeing people he has helped succeed and knowing he played a part in that is extremely fulfilling.

A current project Top is working on is at the Bakke Recreation & Wellbeing Center. Top met with Gabe Mendez, Director of Transportation Operations, and Hayden Groot, Transportation Engineer, to discuss a “curb cut” on Observatory Drive near the Bakke Recreation Center entrance.

Top Tantivivat (right) discussing the curb cut in front of the Bakke Recreation Center with Gabe Mendez (left) and Hayden Groot (middle). Photo by Veronika Dethart.

The Bakke Recreation Center hosts an Adapted Fitness and Personal Training program through UW–Madison’s Department of Kinesiology that provides services to individuals with permanent and temporary disabilities. Top explained that participants in this program often get dropped off directly in front of the Bakke, but that there is no ramp for wheelchair users to be able to access the sidewalk. The closest ramp is slightly down Observatory Drive, where the city bus stops, which makes it inconvenient and inaccessible for those getting dropped off further up the street.

At the site meeting, Top, Gabe and Hayden discussed the logistics and timeline of doing a “curb cut” to create a new ramp for participants of the program, as well as any other individuals who may be getting dropped off at the Bakke who need a ramp. The construction drawing for the curb cut has now been finalized and approved. Top says it should be completed sometime this summer.

This accessibility issue is one of many that Top handles on campus. His job is hands-on, fast paced and extremely important for ensuring that people of all backgrounds are able to access campus.

Want to learn more about accessibility and accommodations on campus? More information is available on the Facilities Access Program webpage. You can get in touch with Top Tantivivat at top.tantivivat@wisc.edu.

By Anna Krawczyk

Anna Krawczyk is a strategic communications student intern with FP&M Marketing & Communications. Anna is a junior at UW–Madison majoring in Communications and Psychology. Anna has been working at FP&M since October 2023.