Involvement Paying Dividends

July 7, 2011 at 5:53 pm 1 comment

Doris RaySometimes it seems that all of the advocacy in the world won’t result in newly built or renovated buildings and facilities being constructed accessible to and usable by people with disabilities from the outset. It’s even more discouraging when one realizes that the Americans with Disabilities Act became law 21 years ago this month.

Why get involved in advocacy and spend time going to meetings and hearings to give comments when nobody is listening. One is tempted to think it’s an investment that isn’t paying off.

Recently, however, ECNV staff and volunteers got a reminder of just how far we’ve come in 21 years and how disability rights education and advocacy in our community is paying dividends!

In the midst of a controversy over the location (underground or above ground) of a soon-to-be built Metro Station at Dulles International Airport, Fairfax County Supervisor Catherine Hudgins, who chairs the Board of Directors of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) asked members of the Northern Virginia disability community to tour the two proposed sites for the Metro Station entrance and provide her with feedback on potential problems with accessibility and ideas for enhancing access between each proposed station entrance and the airport terminal.

People studying a possible spot for new Dulles Metro StationECNV Board President Matt Barkley and ECNV Executive Director David Burds accompanied Hudgins and staff of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority on the path of travel from the airport terminal to the site of each proposed station entrance, pointing out potential problems with the walkway’s slope and incline and answering questions about the effect that rolling or walking a longer distance might have on a person using a wheelchair or other mobility device.

ECNV Staff Member Doris Ray and Penny Everline, an Arlington resident who serves on the WMATA Riders’ Advisory Council (RAC) made suggestions for enhancing the accessibility of the route of travel for persons with vision and hearing impairments, including improvements in lighting and color contrast as well as suggesting use of tactile signage and floor markings to enhance way finding.

It was clear by her questions and responses that Hudgins was interested in the concerns of the disability community and listening to our suggestions. Hudgins’ request that the disability community advise her about access to the new station demonstrates how far we’ve come. Prior to enactment of ADA, few if any elected officials would consult with the disability community on major projects like the Dulles Metro Station.

People studying a possible spot for new Dulles Metro StationEven subsequent to ADA enactment, we’ve had to employ loud and visible advocacy to be heard, including efforts to get officials to pay attention to access problems in the initial design of the metro entrance at Reagan National Airport. But, those efforts paid off! And, so did the effort six years ago to get WMATA to agree to put redundant elevators in all new Metro Stations, including the Silver Line.

So, don’t just sit back, get involved instead! Your advocacy is how we got ADA enacted, and your advocacy will help us ensure that our local and state officials abide by the law and ensure our rights. Time you spend volunteering on advisory boards, testifying in public forums and communicating with elected officials helps make our issues visible.

There will still be issues that will require organized, collective advocacy, and ECNV as your center for independent living, will be there to educate, inform and assist you and the disability community. We all must work together. In the end, it pays off!

By Doris Ray, ECNV Director of Advocacy and Outreach
Article from the ECNV Declaration (Summer 2011 Edition)

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Entry filed under: ADA, Advocacy, Newsletter - The ECNV Declaration.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. hemp  |  July 29, 2011 at 6:56 am

    The Arizona Disability Advocacy Coalition has announced the recipients of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Awards. The ADA Title II – Justice and Equality Public Entities State and Local Government Liberty Award honored a state or local government entity that demonstrates facility or program accessibility or that has made a positive proactive impact in ensuring justice and equality for people with disabilities. The Town of Chino Valley was recognized for its paratransit system for seniors and residents with disabilities while the City of Scottsdale was honored in partnership with the for the Bajada Nature Trail……….1 …….Published by ………..

    Reply

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