Self-evaluation for the benefit of the disabled

On September 5, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Access for disabled persons was found inadequate in many public buildings in Somerville according to studies made by the Commission for Disabilities.

Access for disabled persons was found inadequate in many public buildings in Somerville according to studies made by the Commission for Disabilities.

By Emmanuel Vincent

On August 28, the city’s Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator, the Somerville Commission for Disabilities, conducted a public meeting at City Hall. The meeting addressed the needs of the residents who are disabled.

Ironically, it was the same day as the 50-year anniversary for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. King was an advocate of equality, wanting everyone to have the opportunity to enjoy the ultimate experience of living in this country. This meeting was a reflection of Dr. King’s vision, as they looked at ways that they could better accommodate those who have disabilities.

One of the speakers, Emmanuel Andrade, the architect designer of the ADA, shared vital information with those in attendance. Prior to the meeting, he performed an inspection of buildings, parks and schools in the city, and then he came back and shared his data with the audience that evening.

Municipal Buildings, including the City Hall Annex, Recreation Building and DPW Building were deemed inaccessible. Other buildings that were considered being inaccessible or only partially accessible included the Police Station and the Central Fire Headquarters. The most accessible structure is the Tufts Administration building, according to Andrade.

It was clearly suggested that much change must be made, considering that these buildings that are labeled as inaccessible are important, since they serve as resources for people’s safety and wellbeing.

Overall, there seemed to be good feedback at the meeting. “I thought the meeting went well,” said Betsy Allen, Executive Director and ADA Coordinator.  “We, in this administration, are working very hard everyday to create access for all in this city. But as I said during the meeting, this is a complex issue with a lot of moving parts that requires a well sought out solution.”  She also shared her thoughts on how people can help with better accommodating those who suffer from a disability. “Individuals can stay involved and engaged, and continue to shine a spotlight on their plight and of those of other disabled individuals in the community.” Essentially, it is going to take a collective effort to see that this is done.

There is no follow-up meeting announced yet as it is still being finalized. The target date is the last week of September. It will either take place at City Hall or the Tufts Administration Building.



18 Responses to “Self-evaluation for the benefit of the disabled”

  1. seriously? says:

    you just proved the city administration/services to be overwhelmingly inaccessible, and you offer no solutions? but we should continue to be ‘involved and engaged’? How? and since when is it up to us? this is more discouraging than the situation was from the beginning. Our “resources for safety & well being” are not available to a large segment, and we should just stay engaged and involved? so when my child wants to attend a Recreation/Brown School/Teen Empowerment event or program, how does he stay involved and engaged?
    when people wanted dog parks, there was no ‘complex situation’. we spent a ton of money and made dog parks. DPW employees lift giant bags of dog poop to ‘accomodate’ dog parks.
    more discouraging is the language used here: “suffer” from a disabilitiy? share “their plight”? this negative language is long gone in most disability circles. someone is woefully out of touch.
    and another note, this is the 2nd article that tries to connect Martin Luther Kings anniversary to something. What the hell is that all about?

  2. KrisKringle says:

    Oi. There is so much misinformation in this article, where would we start? but thanks for starting, @seriously? !!!

    First things first: Accessibility makes the world better for everyone. Stop with “the disabled” shit already.

    Joe’s Willful Neglect continues with a novel twist- he hires an ADA Coordinator who may seem very nice, but is obviously lacking the crucial knowledge required to coordinate this long-needed project capably. Just another campaign toy project for him.

  3. sue says:

    Can’t believe we paid someone to come in and tell us something that anyone with half a brain could have told us. I would like to suggest that anyone who is disabled, or lives with someone who is disabled, should file a class action lawsuit against the city. This is about LEGAL access, not just about playing nice. These laws have been in effect for many years and have been totally ignored by this and former administrations. Read the law (I believe the mayor is a lawyer, plus we have a team of them in the Solicitor’s Office), and enforce it.
    Also, why did they only look at municpal buildings. How about the brick crosswalks/sidewalks (especially the older ones that have broken bricks), and the sidewalks sometimes at a 90 degree angle due to tree roots?
    How about all of the street festivals that you cannot get to if you are disabled and the streets are closed? And your bus is re-routed? It goes on and on…..

  4. MarketMan says:

    sue: I agree, why has it taken the city so long to do anything. We didn’t need to spend money on a study. We need to spend money on action. I don’t have any disabilities, and I find it hard to walk on sidewalks that are uplifted by tree roots, etc.

  5. eila says:

    I share my neighbor’s and friend’s frustrations!, especially with the city’s odd nudging to the effect of, “this won’t get done without your help.”

    seriously? and sue have hit the nail on the head- these are the city’s legal obligations and need to be accomplished by paid staff without delay. If paid staff don’t have the expertise, the city does need to hire knowledgeable consultants, or else replace staff that can’t do the job.

    It would help the community if we continue to give input– and do that only in a completely transparent way, like writing Op-Eds and posting on local blogs, for example. The community should be able to learn about the issues and expertise that we’ve been offering to the city’s deciders (for years) — and the community should be given a readily available look at how the city responds to our knowledgeable guidance.

    The municipal facilities evaluation discussed in this article was done by a really superb team, the Institute for Human Centered Design (not the city’s disAbilities Commission, as the photo’s caption states). IHCD did not do a rudimentary review that could have been done by anyone- they did a very detailed review that can only be done by people who are experts knowing the standards, regulations and laws applicable to nondiscrimination, disAbility civil rights, and accessibility codes.

    This detailed review was/is absolutely necessary to establish a baseline assessment of the city’s programs, services and policies prior to the organization and development of an ADA Transition Plan (which establishes a timeline and designates responsible persons to coordinate the complete mitigation of the many violations described in their report).

    There was also a federally mandated Streetscape review completed in the past year. The mayor announced it sometime in June 2012 and again some months ago with PR about data-driven streetscape improvements; and also, I think, in announcements about the Union Square streetscape improvements project. I placed a public information request for that completed report, via , over 10 days ago; but my request has, so far, met with no response. And, at the Aug 28 meeting, friend and resident Tom Gilbert, a transportation accessibility genius, also asked about the Streetscape Evaluation. He was told, “it’s on its way.”

    So, I expect that by the September meeting, this report should be available in print and online for everyone to read and review as they like..

    also hooray for KrisKringle’s comments, esp. “accessibility is for EVERYONE.” !! That was actually also one of the first points that IHCD’s Executive Director, Valerie Fletcher, made at the Aug 28th meeting. She showed how that these matters affect everyone and how these improvements will clearly benefit everyone. Without such a fundamental understanding, our city will continue to segregate people living with disAbilities; and will continue to fail to develop in any smart, sustainable way.

    The cost is not the issue. What has been sorely lacking is the political will to value the lives and aspirations of everyone, without conditions or reservations, regardless of class, status, political entitlements, or other distinctions. It’s up to Mayor Curtatone to begin generating an attitude of inclusion amongst his staff- and to ensure that each person paid to do a city job is properly trained and competent. It’s also his responsibility to reverse the curse he’s placed on those of us who have been speaking up for years. We are not the enemy– and these issues have never been “insignificant.” Let’s move, Mayor Joe.

  6. ritepride says:

    Sue,remember this is the All America City…Duh Envelope puhleez!

  7. well said says:

    I think you’re all on target, but the problem is partly the rest of the community doesn’t care. giant yawn when the subject comes up. the city is driven by the arts, dogs, bars, etc. You can see clearly that outdoor seating for bars or brunch prevents wheelchair use of sidewalk, and nobody cares. the hip element overrides all.
    and great point about access being for everyone. Don’t kid yourself, anyone in your family can have a stroke, a broken bone or surgery that puts you in this group, termporarily or permanently. My neighbor has 4 children. They all went to the Brown. #4 had a physical disability and couldn’t. How unfair is that? this wouldn’t be tolerated by any other group. But honestly, we typically are overloaded with personal health care issues, and don’t have the time or the energy to fight. This is what makes these comments frustrating—apparently we’re supposed to do this for the city?

  8. KrisKringle says:

    exactly. it’s unfair (and also illegal, by the way), that the city violates the rights of thousands of residents of all ages- and including ALL older residents– without any acknowledgement that thousands of people are being excluded every day.
    Enter BestPracticesBoy (BPB) with his latest First-Time-It’s-Ever-Been-Done! play: First the new ADA Coordinator coerces ’em (poor suffering crips) to step up (line forms in back) to name which 1 of their rights they’re willing to beg for.
    Cut to a heart-warming scene of BPB warmly assuring viewers, “that’s MY priority, too!” End with a crowd of diverse residents lifting every voice to sing: “I’m no longer suffering from plight blight, cuzza mayor curt-a-tony, he sure did it right. ”

  9. A.Moore says:

    Just a common sense issue. Anything new being built or remodeled ADA stuff should just be part of it. Old buildings of which some will be hard to make ADA is another problem. But maybe if they started to work on it instead of so much playing around we could get this started. Maybe we could have used a section of the Powder House school for some city business which could be ADA and partly a satellite city hall. Plus get rid of those brick crossings. Both of my parents have tripped and fell on them. Good thing for the city they are not sue crazy. MAybe it’s a plan to get rid of us old kranks.

  10. Anna says:

    The bike path, which hasn’t been maintained or repaired since it was built, is a mess right now. One of Joe’s beloved young, T riding, bike riding constituents is going to get hurt and maybe that will spur him into action. It is very bumpy, and there are places with missing bricks, or where the bricks have heaved and are uneven (again with the bricks!). I have tripped several times while walking the bike path.

  11. Barry the Pig says:

    “I have tripped several times while walking the bike path.”

    Duh, Anna, it’s a bike path, not a walk path!!!

  12. ritepride says:

    Just like the city ordinances..City Hall comes out with them, yet no plan on implementing them or how to enforce them. I like the Arlington bikepath that have warning lights for both the bikes on the path and the cars at the intersection with bright strobe lights so you are aware if a bike is in close proximity to crossing and be aware, likewise for the bikes.

  13. Dan says:

    Is this in the Davis Square section of the path?

  14. ritepride says:

    Alderman Jack Connelly has been very vocal regarding the brick/sidewalks in the Davis Square area. Evidently the mayor sets this as a low priority…closing streets to the detriment of residents for his dog & pony street festivals/races is of utmost importance to hizzoner.

    If LEGOLAND’s Grand Opening does not have a portrait o the mayor done in Legos they’ll find their ocupancy permit yanked real quick cause joe thinks highly of himself, has had his potrait hung at city hall for awhile now, which usually occurs upon retirement or expiration. Then again this is joe.

  15. wrong, Pig says:

    Barry the Pig–so wrong. this is called The Minuteman Trail, and it’s intended for use by all. as one who’s been all but spit at for walking on it when a biker wants to get by, I seethe when I hear people like you tell people it’s not for them. ….and if you trip on this stuff walking, what the hell do you think happens when your bike goes over them?

  16. Ron Newman says:

    Barry, it’s the *Community* Path — just as much for walkers (and runners) as it is for bicycles. And the city also needs to do something about the flooding that happens on the path west of Thorndike Street after every big rainstorm.

  17. sophie says:

    Barry, it is commonly referred to as the “bike path”, but it is a public path for use by all. And I think a bike rider could be injured just as easily, maybe more so based on their speed, by a bumpy surface or uneven bricks. Speaking of bikes on the path, they used to be very respectful and would call out if they were about to pass a pedestrian. Now you are walking along peacefully, and they come up behind you and pass you, quickly and silently. I have nearly been hit more than once.

  18. A.Moore says:

    As for those bricks I just spoke to someone i Know today that is elderly that his wife had tripped on them in Davis Square and was rushed ot the hospital. He goes back to Davis and he trips on them also. Besides both of my parents and a frind of my mother’s. They are so lucky these people are not lawsuit crazy.

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