Event urges handicapped accessibility

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Jerome Fitchett of Delmarva Community Transit demonstrated the lift on one of DCT’s buses at the fair. The device allows individuals in wheelchairs or motorized scooters to board the vehicles, and maintain their independence. The children, from the left, are Skii Foster and Akeem Webster, with little Prince Robertson in front.

CAMBRIDGE — Music, food, vendors and displays attracted many residents to the corner of Cedar and Race streets on Saturday, where, along with the fun, they learned the serious nature of the event. The Cambridge Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Committee held its first Accessibility Awareness Fair.

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination and ensures people with disabilities are provided the same safe and accessible opportunities in schools, transportation, and public places.

The committee is leading an Accessibility Awareness Campaign to encourage business owners, citizens, and city government to make Cambridge fully welcoming and accessible to persons with disabilities.
That means ensuring that sidewalks are clear, doors wide enough and ramps are in place, among many other considerations, so that individuals with disabilities — in fact, anyone who might need a little help — can enjoy the city and its attractions.

Cambridge Historic Preservation Director Herve Hamon serves on the committee. “We want to make sure people know we are looking out for them, to make Cambridge accessible,” he said.

The committee is taking a three-pronged approach to publicize their efforts. The first was the production of measuring sticks by students at Dorchester Career and Technology Center, marked with the distances required by the ADA to allow those with handicaps to pass freely in public places. The businesses “were very receptive,” Mr. Hamon said.

The second is an initiative in which students will earn public service hours as they conduct a survey checking the condition of sidewalks. They will learn about the ADA, and then use Geographic Information System (GIS) programs to enter data on their phones, creating maps featuring clearance and other data.

The third is public exposure, helping citizens to understand the requirements of the law, and how they can be compliant for the good of the city. “It’s for the people of Cambridge,” Mr. Hamon said.

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