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God we need a lot of these kind of mapping accessibility projects.

ect, UWS looks to become more disability friendly

A resident of the Upper West Side is working to lobby for more accessible buildings in her neighborhood.

By Avantika Kumar

Spectator Senior Staff Writer

Published January 28, 2013

Douglas Kessel / Senior Staff Photographer

With a new accessibility mapping initiative underway, Upper West Siders are taking first steps toward making the neighborhood more disability-friendly.

Ronnie Raymond, a 93rd Street resident and member of Citizens for an Accessible West Side, introduced a project to map restaurant and business accessibility on the Upper West Side at the Community Board 7 Health and Human Services Committee meeting this Tuesday.

Businesses and restaurants may be classified as being fully, partially, or not accessible based on their entrances, interiors, and restrooms.

The Community Accessibility Project has partnered with the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, which has mapped the accessibility of about 1,000 locations citywide and 200 on the Upper West Side, Raymond said.

Raymond, who uses a wheelchair, said she has encountered difficulties at Upper West Side businesses and in her own apartment building—experiences that demonstrated the challenge of advocating for concrete accessibility improvements.

Even restaurants with bathrooms that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 have doors that Raymond said her wheelchair can’t pass through.

She also noted that her apartment building failed to act on its promise to make a three-inch front doorstep accessible until she contacted a representative from the New York City Commission on Human Rights.

“It was the 11th hour until they finally did something,” Raymond said. “Nobody’s dogging them.”

According to Raymond, determining how to map disabilities consistently is a difficulty for CAP, in addition to finding more support for its initiative.

Raymond said that fewer than 25 percent of buildings on the Upper West Side are ADA-compliant and less than half are accessible, adding that enforcement of ADA regulations in newly renovated buildings is often spotty.

Committee members at the meeting agreed that even stopgap measures such as portable ramps are better than nothing, although they are still not an ADA-compliant solution.

Rebecca Godlewicz, liaison to Community Board 7 from the Manhattan borough president’s office, said that the office is currently “trying to see what the realities are” to move forward with the project.

“We’re just starting to talk about it,” Godlewicz said, adding that contention over modifying landmarks and historic districts was another concern.

Kevin Cremin, an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School who focuses on disability litigation, said that ADA regulations are tighter on new renovations, focusing more on barrier removal in older construction. He explained that in many cases, removing barriers is not incredibly burdensome.

Cremin, who taught a seminar class that required students to map accessibility on the Upper West Side, said that most Upper West Side businesses—like many of New York City’s buildings—are inaccessible.

“Some significant accessibility improvements can be made with a small amount of cost and effort. Moreover, there are tax incentives and grant programs available” that offset costs, Cremin said. “If their businesses are more accessible for people with disabilities, then they’d be potentially increasing the pool of customers that they’d have.”

CB7 Chair Mark Diller said after the meeting that CB7 was in the “early stages” of pursuing this issue and that he could work with constituents to “make strides to make more things accessible.”

Still, Diller said that targeting less-than-accessible buildings would lead to issues with settlement lawsuits from “an opportunistic band of folks” who target non-compliant companies, requiring them to leave and pay money without actually fixing the inaccessibility problem.

Diller suggested at the meeting that focusing on accessible buildings as role models would be smarter than targeting noncompliant businesses.

In response, Raymond said that she would speak to her coworkers about modifying the CAP map so that it highlights only accessible buildings.

While Cremin agreed that these lawsuits have recently attracted negative attention, he stressed that most litigation focuses on improving situations.

“I think that first of all, businesses have had a long time to comply with the law,” he said. “And most efforts by municipalities, organizations, or individuals to push businesses to comply with the law is motivated by the desire to increase accessibility for people with disabilities.”

Committee members also discussed ways to develop the mapping project, including developing a smartphone app, creating a directory, or posting signage in restaurant windows.

Although Raymond said that Zagat was reluctant to include disability information in its rating and that keeping a current and accurate record would be difficult, however there is a citywide initiative to make accessibility part of the health inspection record.

Cremin said that the government could enforce accessibility standards more stringently, and that community members could make a difference, too.

In Brooklyn, the Center for Independence for the Disabled has started a “Barrier Busters” program in which volunteer members work with local businesses.

He added that he would like to see more of an emphasis on “thinking about disabilities in a very broad sense.”

“I think that it’s always important for efforts like this to focus not only on people who use wheelchairs, but also to consider the barriers facing people who are blind, the deaf community,” and those with mental disabilities, Cremin said.

Raymond said that efforts such as letter writing were fairly straightforward, but more aggressive measures could bolster support.

“It’s the follow-up that is the difficulty,” Raymond said. | @avantikaku



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“Going to Work” – a new video series – by youth for youth

This is the internationally recognized symbol ...

This is the internationally recognized symbol for accessibility (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Going to Work” – a new video series – by youth for youth



What if your teen could learn about the world of work from young adults with disabilities who love their jobs?

These young people have learned about networking, disability disclosure, interviewing, and job accommodations through first hand experience. They tell it like it is in the brand new “Going to Work” video series by Wisconsin Youth First.

Sharing their stories

You and your teen will meet six young people with diverse interests, perspectives, talents, and disabilities. You’ll gain valuable insights as they share their personal journeys from school to jobs they truly enjoy.

Each brief video focuses on a different employment topic.

You can download the videos for free here:

Video #1 – Meet the characters

Video #2 – Understanding your disability/ self advocacy

Video #3 – Disclosing your disability

Video #4 – Job interview skills

Video #5 – Asking for accommodations on the job

More great resources

Wisconsin Youth First hosts a “by youth for youth”  website with many great resources.

Their “Going to Work” page has links to many helpful sites and free tools. Check it outhere.

Your turn

Do you have experiences to share? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Do you know young people who would like to share their stories? We’d love to feature them in a Life After IEPs post! They can email me using the white envelope in the sidebar.

Let’s learn from one another!

If you know someone who might benefit from this post – please pass it on! Thanks!

Related posts

Here are some other posts you may find helpful on the journey to employment:

Explore careers with ‘My Next Move’

Talking to kids about disabilities

What’s the ’411 on Disability Disclosure’?

Job Accommodations under the ADA


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Video Games May Benefit Kids With Cerebral Palsy

Video Games May Benefit Kids With Cerebral Palsy


May 8, 2012Text Size  A  A

Often reviled for encouraging kids to spend too much time in front of screens, new research suggests that some video games may actually benefit those with cerebral palsy.

The finding comes from a new study in which researchers observed 17 children with cerebral palsy as they played four “active games” on the Nintendo Wii — Bowling, Tennis, Boxing and Dance Dance Revolution.

They found that the games encouraged repetitive movements, while providing positive feedback in a fun environment, according to the study published online this week in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Significantly, the researchers said children with cerebral palsy who typically utilized one, dominant side of their body were engaging their full body when playing the games, suggesting that the activity could be a low-impact way of achieving therapeutic goals.

“While our results did not show that (active video) game play can be regarded as a replacement for more vigorous physical activity or muscle strengthening, we found that some games may provide targeted therapy focused on specific joints or movements,” said Elaine Biddiss of the University of Toronto who led the study.

“Future development and optimization of AVG technologies may usher in a new age in physical rehabilitation where virtual environments provide an arena for neuroplastic change in the comfort of one’s home,” she said.

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Time to refresh my blogging and mean it.

As some may know who fellow my work. I have been away from my blogging page. Well I am going to try writing and putting my ideas and thoughts again to wordPress  ( Such as they are) . I have missed putting my piece of my soul to share  with other spirited souls who like positive  thoughts and curious ideas. See you all in blogg land


Kathy 🙂





WordPress (Photo credit: Huasonic)


Pushing the limits

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In repurposing her wheelchair to create fantastical art, Sue Austin reshapes how we think about disability.

Multimedia, performance and installation artist Sue Austin keeps a fascinating mission at the center her work: to challenge the idea of disabled as “other” and represent her experience as a wheelchair user in a brighter light. She does this by creating quirky, unexpected juxtapositions — bringing a sense of whimsy and empowerment to the discussion of disability.