More steps need to be taken so everyone has access

The Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990, and later amended in 2008, promised individuals with disabilities equal access in their communities.

Despite these positive changes, many Americans still do not have full access. For example, restaurants that only have step entrances, community parks and other public venues that lack accessible bathrooms and facilities and municipal buildings with narrow doorways deny access and full societal participation.

Streets without curb cuts and fully accessible crosswalks foster isolation of individuals with disabilities and adds barriers in pursuing competitive employment.

Moreover, the individuals who are negatively impacted by the lack of accessibility are not only people who identify as having a disability; but are also our grandparents, veterans and parents of infants and toddlers who use strollers.

If you are the friend or family member of a person with a disability, or a physical or sensory impairment, you too are limited if you cannot access a public place together.

Communities frequently utilize watch teams to ensure the safety of their streets; we should also work together to ensure accessibility for everyone.

Community members can support equal access by speaking to local business owners and representatives about the importance of accessibility. An easy, proactive approach is to become an “Identifier for Access” by using the three basic requirements that are used under the growing visitability trend.

Visitability is a term used when referencing a home that is built or revised to meet three basic requirements, all of which assure access. They are:

∫ At least one zero step entryway to the structure.

∫ Doorways with 32 inches of clear passage space.

∫ One bathroom located on the main floor that has enough space to maneuver a wheelchair.

Although the term is intended for thoughtful, sustainable housing, it can also be a simple method to remember when visiting public establishments, as these three elements align with the ADA public accommodation requirements.

For more information on accessibility, please contact Living is for Everyone at Resource Center for Independent Living in Amsterdam at (518) 842-3561 or visit: www.rcil.com.

ANDRIA BERGER

Amsterdam