You said it: Commission strives to make Alameda more accessible

You said it: Commission strives to make Alameda more accessible

Audrey Lord-Hausman and Kelly Harp

In observance of October as National Disability Awareness month, Alameda’s Commission on Disability Issues is pleased to inform city residents on efforts to make our city even more accessible to people with disabilities and to create an environment for aging in place. Our chartered purpose is to “consider issues affecting the lives of people with disabilities and to advise city officials on actions … to achieve an environment in which people with disabilities have equal access to programs, housing, facilities and services.”

A city friendly and welcoming to persons with disabilities includes some simple but vital infrastructure design features: audible intersection signals, curb cuts, accessible business and public restroom facilities, electric door openers, railings, ramps rather than stairs, residential universal design features, public transportation access, benches and rest stops in business districts, to list just a few.

While there is still much to do, the commission has been working collaboratively over the years with city departments to implement improvements. For instance, to start the process of implementing a universal design ordinance, preliminary language was included in the recently adopted housing element. Such an ordinance requires residential housing developers to include universal design principles in all new housing developments of five or more units. The commission and interested volunteers are now reviewing universal design and visit-ability ordinances adopted by several California cities to create language applicable to our community.

Fifty-four million Americans identify as having at least one disability, and many more of us are aging into limitations affecting our mobility, strength, vision, balance - capacities used for everyday functions in life. In addition, senior services and services for persons with disabilities were among the highest needs categories identified by Alamedans responding to the city’s latest Community Needs Assessment. Given these numbers, it is important for our city to make accessibility a priority when designing or approving plans for residential, commercial and leisure spaces. From the standpoint of civic participation and simple economics, universal design or visit-ability planning efforts are not only the right thing to do, they need not be expensive or intrusive. Making sensible inclusive planning decisions sooner rather than later will ensure that Alameda’s private and public spaces work for the widest range of citizens and abilities, support aging in place, and reduce risks and the costs of safety and emergency services.

Whether one has a permanent disability, is temporarily disabled due to an accident or an illness, or is facing aging challenges, people are only limited by their surroundings. Thoughtful, well-designed communities encourage residents to participate in all aspects of local life feeling safe and secure in their environment.

The Commission on Disability Issues will continue to work collaboratively with the city and the business community to make Alameda an inclusive and welcoming community for those aging in place and for those persons with disabilities. Residents are welcome to attend a regular commission meeting and to join with us in this work. Information can be found on the city’s website: http://www.ci.alameda.ca.us.

Audrey Lord-Hausman is chair of Alameda's Commission on Disability Issues. Kelly Harp is vice-chair of the commission.

Comments

Jon Spangler's picture
Submitted by Jon Spangler on Thu, Oct 4, 2012

Has the Commission on Disability Issues reviewed the "invisible" implementation of the Secondhand Smoke Ordinance that went into effect January 2, 2012?

With no public signage and minimal enforcement, smokers are still puffing away in Alameda's commercial and business districts 10 months later.

The promise of a safer (non-threatening) shopping and dining environment for those with breathing difficulties (asthma, allergies, etc.) is still largely unrealized with toxic smoke still in the air.

Readers wanting to take action should contact Serena Chen of the American lung Association:

Serena Chen | Regional Advocacy Director
American Lung Association in California
424 Pendleton Way
Oakland, CA 94621
Phone: 510.982.3191
Fax: 510.638.8984
Serena.Chen@lung.org | http://www.lung.org/california

Submitted by AlamedaBullMoose on Thu, Oct 4, 2012

I have lived in Alameda for five years and am regularly on both Webster and Park streets (i live on Webster) ... I cannot recall even one instance of people "puffing away" at/near dining establishments ... i am not a smoker.