ADA Accessibility Surveys

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I recently worked with a colleague providing training on disability awareness and etiquette. I wanted to focus on some of the information from the training that provides compelling information supporting the idea that accessibility matters.

According to 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data, about 56.7 million Americans have a disability — nearly one in five or 20 percent. People with disabilities represent the largest minority group in the United States, and the reality is that any individual, at any time, regardless of age, gender, race or economic status can become a member of this minority group from injury or illness.

As an accessibility specialist, I conduct Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) site surveys in the community at businesses, educational institutions, municipalities and nonprofits as part of Paraquad’s AccessibleSTL program. The survey provides information and recommendations regarding improved accessibility of buildings and the goods and services therein. We also provide assistance to individuals on issues of accessibility (e.g., providing general information, resources and supporting self-advocacy).

So where do you spend your time and money? Work, school, places of worship, pools, parks, sports, restaurants, shops, malls, concerts, libraries, amusement parks, movies, banks, grocery stores — the list is endless. Do you have to ask yourself, “Can I park? Can I get in? Can I use the restroom?” Should you have to ask these questions in the first place?

For now accessibility matters because where we live, work, worship and play isn’t always accessible. Maybe someday I will be out of a job. Maybe technology will become more affordable. Maybe universal design will be universal. I remain hopeful.

Mary Thompson is the Accessibility Specialist at Paraquad. She can be reached at mthompson@paraquad.org.

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