Striving Toward Accessibly for All Means People Need to be Seen & Heard
By: Parrish L. Stahl
Recently disAbility Connections launched the “Striving towards Access for All” project. The first ever recognition was given to the newly renovated Meijer Branch of the Jackson District Library. It is beautiful in its architecture and simplistic approach to accessibility. The design is a testament to how seamless accessibility can be incorporated when included in an initial design. In fact, the facility received a perfect score on the four priorities spelled out by the project, which are: Parking and Approach, Entrance, Circulation and/or Seating & Restroom. Perfect scores won’t be common. Our world is full of obstacles and barriers, but does anyone else want to focus on the positive side of accessibility as we approach the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act?
There are places in this community and others that won’t be accessible for years, if ever. The answer is public pressure and positive voices. If an entity is not accessible, should not someone ask why? Polite phone calls and letters often can be powerful. Does not it make sense to engage businesses and organizations in a dialog as opposed to threatening legal action? Often changes happen because someone had the good sense to point out a problem in a reasonable way. Michigan has natural wonders that are in our back yard; public access lake docks and parks are all around and have a long ways to go to be accessible. Some areas like, Michigan Center, the Irish Hills and the City of Jackson have made strides, but if you love the natural world in the City or outlying communities your voice and actions is the quickest avenue to change.
One of the simplest, easiest ways you can increase accessibility in any community is to be seen and heard when using accessibility features that already exist; meaning if you or a family member appreciates something tell a manager in writing if possible. Just a short thank you note often is extremely powerful. Another important action is to use what is there. If a swimming pool has a lift for example, use it! Often things like pool lifts sit unused and thus are not priorities for overworked staff. The more people that use and request accessibility design elements the more indispensable they become to the whole community. Will not real change happen when entities realize the positive economic impact of being accessible?