City’s ADA group measures success

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Members of the Cambridge Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance Committee on Friday morning displayed the ADA clearance sticks they will are distributing this week to downtown businesses. From the left are Tom Puglisi, Stephanie Hallowell, Patty Kaczmarek, Chairman Jerry Burroughs, City Advisor Herve Hamon, Vice Chair Portia Johnson-Ennals and City Commissioner (Fourth Ward) Dave Cannon.

CAMBRIDGE — The Cambridge Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance Committee is visiting businesses this week, promoting its campaign to make the city fully welcoming to persons with disabilities. Initial emphasis will be on fostering maximum accessibility in the Downtown Business District.

Committee members and city staff will give each business an ADA clearance stick, with instructions for ensuring clear sidewalk paths to make the accessible to everyone. The measuring sticks were created with the help of vocational carpentry students from the Dorchester Career and Technology Center (DCTC).

Among the ADA’s many specifications are widths, heights and distances that allow individuals with limited mobility or who use assistance devices to pass in safety and comfort. The sticks, with their special markings, will make it easier for business owners to check for compliance.

“Optimizing access to Cambridge’s shops and restaurants will not only benefit local residents with disabilities, but will also attract more customers to local businesses – especially as Cambridge becomes recognized as an engaging and accommodating travel destination – creating a ‘win-win’ for all,” a statement from committee member Tom Puglisi said.

The ADA, made federal law in 1990, prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life and all places accessible by the general public. The ADA guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public places and accommodations, transportation, employment, state and local governments and telecommunications.

“The business community in Cambridge will be opening its doors to a population that others often overlook,” CEO of United Needs & Abilities Mike Dyer said in a written statement. “When persons with disabilities can feel comfortable in knowing that a town welcomes them and appreciates them for who they are, word will spread, and Cambridge will be chosen as the place to go.” United Needs & Abilities is a Salisbury-based provider of individualized services to people with disabilities.

City Commissioner Dave Cannon (Fourth Ward) said in a prepared statement, “After working with the city’s ADA committee and seeing their vision for a more accessible Cambridge, I am very enthused for the future of Cambridge’s physically challenged residents and for the many physically challenged visitors and their families who will be coming to our beautiful community. I want to thank the businesses who are partnering with our ADA committee to make their shops and restaurants more accessible and I’m look forward to a more accessible Cambridge.”

The sticks and their associated sidewalk survey were presented for approval at the Cambridge City Council’s March 11 meeting. DCTC student Kyle McKelvey displayed one of the four-foot-long tools he had helped design and create, saying, “These sticks can help people.”

The committee’s statement said, “The Cambridge Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance Committee wishes to thank in advance all the participating businesses for contributing to making Cambridge one of the most accessible and welcoming cities on the Eastern Shore.”

Committee member Herve O. Hamon is the city’s planner and historic preservation specialist. He can be reached at 410-228-1955, ext. 1032, or hhamon@choosecambridge.com. Mr. Cannon can be reached at Phone: 443-477-4415 or dcannon@choosecambridge.com. Mr. Cannon is also an employee of the Dorchester Banner.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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