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Functional Accessibility Reviews Part 1: The Concept

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

Reviews. This is how this whole blog, website, and nonprofit organization thing got started. It was sometime in November 2017. I was out to dinner with my friend Sharon one night and we were talking about somewhere that we had been or somewhere were trying to go (to be honest with you, I can’t remember where) and she said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somewhere you could go, maybe a website or something where they had reviews posted about how #accessible places are for people with #limitedmobility? You know, it could cover things like: Could you get in if you have mobility issues? How would you get in? Do restaurants have tables or just booths? Do grocery stores have electric carts?” We did something between grumbling and whining for a little bit and then we went on with our dinner. No big deal, right? Wrong! Of course I started researching the idea to see if anyone had come up with anything like that. The only thing that I found was a project that was being worked on a couple of years ago. It was the Access Ratings for Buildings Project. They were “developing a mobile and web-based system for providing #up-to-date accessibility information about public buildings for people with disabilities, their families and friends, and building owners.” As a part of their background information, they noted that:

1. “In spite of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, people with disabilities continue to be challenged in the community by buildings with accessibility barriers.

2. While progress has been made, a substantial percentage of buildings remain inaccessible or only partially accessible due to various physical, sensory, and cognitive barriers.

3. Many buildings also still fail to meet ADA building standards due to age or protected building status.

4. Statistically, it is estimated that more than 50 million people with a wide range of disabilities encounter design problems with facilities. Yet, no postings of building accessibility information are readily available or required.

5. Consequently, people with #disabilities may not have information about barriers until they encounter them, which ultimately affects their level of participation in the community.

6. It is immensely beneficial for all people, especially people with accessibility needs, to know what to expect ahead of time before they attempt to navigate a building. Armed with relevant accessibility information, people can determine which establishment will best serve their needs, plan alternatives, bring assistance, or even avoid particular barriers.”

I couldn’t find anything more recent than 2015 about their work. So until they complete their project or someone does some similar work, I am going to try to provide some sort of information about the functional accessibility of some of the buildings and venues that we visit in the form of reviews. And I am going to need #help.

Your firsthand experience can help others, so I really hope you will consider submitting reviews of places you visit. These reviews are not intended to be scientific or legal or anything like that. They are merely my observations . . . and hopefully yours, of experiences that we have had at various places. We can think of it a mobility-based version of Yelp.

I realize that the reviews are not all going to be glowing recommendations; however, I don’t want this to be an all negative thing. I don’t want it to turn into a place for moaning and groaning. I want to applaud the places that are truly accessible or trying to be and I want to offer some constructive feedback to the places that are not. I see this as a perfect opportunity for advocacy.

There you have it. . . the concept.

The next step?

Figure out how to make it work.

Ideas are easy. It's the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.

(Sue Grafton)

Image by Megan Rexazin from Pixabay

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