Action Plan For Buildings (or Parking Lots)
This artifact is the original document that defines specific requirements of future buildings to have certain disability rules. The author of the documents, Nancy Goldman, listed the issues the disabled have, one of them being the accessibility of buildings. The photo shows future plans of how buildings would have to change to make sure the buildings are easily accessible.
With these laws, people with disabilities had more opportunities to experience life for themselves; it was a step to improving how people with disabilities navigate spaces. Before the document was made, the disabled lived a more difficult life. They had a hard time accessing buildings, moving from place to place, and trouble reaching/working certain equipment. Eventually the Community Access Monitor Project by the Massachusetts Office of Handicapped Affairs was made to help support them. It was created by: Nancy Goldman, materials development manager Elaine Ostroff, technical consultant Chris Palmes, cover designer Raine DeMuLouise, and the concept and reviewer of the book Kathy Gips, the head of the Massachusetts Office of Disability at the time.
The page shown above is a list of requirements of what buildings must have to support the disabled. It would make sure buildings have easily accessible ways for them so they can have an easier time getting around, just as non-people with disabilities do. The owners of the buildings were not fond of the idea because they were the ones responsible for the modifications for the buildings. There was also the fact of how old the buildings were and therefore making it difficult to add new enhancements to them. That was not a reason to not make changes, however. For example, people with disabilities who are in wheelchairs will not have it as easy as an able-bodied person walking upstairs. This artifact helped achieve what people with disabilities need to get through life. Without it, it would be very difficult for them to live a normal life.
For many years, buildings did not have much to help people with disabilities, from their interior to their outside features. Sidewalks would have a big bump between it and the streets, stairs as mentioned earlier, tight places to navigate, spaces too high up to reach, and work difficult for them that a non-disabled person could do. Even the simplest things that should be accessible make people with disabilities feel left out. For example, at Fitchburg State University there are elevators for those in wheelchairs, but the card scanner to access the elevator was too high to reach for someone sitting down.
This artifact shows what people with disabilities need in a simple, straightforward way. Requirement lists were made for the building instructors to identify their problems and address how they could fix them. They would have to fill out an accurate representation addressing the problem and saying what they would do to fix the problems and make sure the issues were solved. One of the major rules was how there had to be a minimum measurement of twelve inches from the street to the sidewalk, that way it would be easier for people with disabilities in wheelchairs to go up and down.
The government approved of these changes to future buildings, and the list of the requirements were approved. From the current buildings at the time to future buildings, they all must have the following: ramps connecting the streets to sidewalks to make it easily accessible and easy to use elevators and bathrooms to have enough room for them to use and for them to access. When those modifications are put into place, it would be time to survey the buildings. If the expectations were not met, the owner of the building would be called and told they had a certain number of days to fix it or else they would be fined. Even though the methods that were used were a little harsh, it worked. Buildings were changed greatly and made friendly for people with disabilities to use and access. Thanks to this artifact, almost all buildings in Fitchburg are now easily accessible to anyone no matter if disabled or not. There is still some work to be done to make buildings better accessible though, mainly parking lot renovations.
Sovereign Bank in Fitchburg for a while needed better handicapped parking spaces, years after the Community Access Monitor Project was put into place. Going through the minutes from the Fitchburg Disability Commission, there was a record from one of the meetings where the Commission tried to schedule meetings with the police department to find a good way to create these new spots for not only Sovereign Bank, but also at an Allied Health location.
Even though there are still some buildings and lots that could be improved to make easier access for people with disabilities, the Community Access Monitor Project helped improve many of the buildings’ conditions to provide better access for people with disabilities.
Without it, many buildings would not be like what they are today compared to the past buildings we have had. Knowing people with disabilities and seeing what they have to go through in terms of inaccessibility can be tough. But seeing what we have done to fix buildings to make it easier for them is great to see.
Fitchburg Disability Commission Minutes, 7 Dec. 2000.