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Working Towards an Accessible Community

posted by Nicole Rand on Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Walking across the street. Driving to an appointment. Opening a door to a business. For many, achieving these activities are relatively simple — we might even take them for granted.

To many of the persons served by EPI; however, these activities are full of barriers and unspoken messages.

Imagine waiting for a bus, your only means of transportation, on a cold winter day without shelter.

Consider how you would feel if you couldn’t cross the street because you can’t get over the curb at the street crossing with your wheelchair. Or, being stuck outside, forced to wait for the kindness of a stranger, just to open the door of the business.

While our community has come a long way, there are still many more solutions we must find together. That’s how the Accessibility Committee at Exceptional Person’s, Inc. got its start.

Here’s how it works...a person with a disability contacts the committee with concerns of barriers they’ve encountered.

Our committee then works together with various stakeholders to find solutions that work for all parties involved.

Sometimes it’s as simple as offering alternatives. This was the case when a rent box was located at the top of stairs — out of reach for tenants unable to use stairs.

A committee member together with the tenant reached out to the apartment’s office and came up with three solutions such as staff picking up the check and accepting payment by mail or electronic fund transfers.

Sometimes it may look like no solution can be found. It felt this way with one area business who didn’t have automatic doors. As our committee engaged in discussion, we learned the layout of the building prohibited the installation of automatic doors.

Upon further discussion, the business is moving towards a doorbell system ensuring guests won’t be left outside waiting too long for the door.

These are but a few of the recent projects this committee has had a hand in. As we look back on the years of service, the committee recalls curb cutout projects allowing for a smooth transition across the street and bus stop shelters among some of their most proud accomplishments.

With the help of the Accessibility Committee and all who work together to bring about change, we can make this community accessible and welcoming for everyone.

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