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Building Capacities in Local Communities

David Whalen

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 had as one its primary premises ‘accessibility for all’, however if you ask individuals most in need of accessible alterations and modifications, you’ll find that the law has not fulfilled this objective.
Many people in the community who have a base knowledge of the ADA think all must be good now as businesses must be in compliance. But they fail to understand that enforcement is inconsistent AND knowledge of how to implement accessibility is gravely lacking.
So how do we get proper response to accessibility in communities to be both understood and implemented?
It all starts with disability awareness training. We simply cannot expect people who do not live with a disability to adhere to a law they know very little, if anything, about and be responsive to individual needs. However, when we sensitize them followed by education on the topic and how to meet accessibility standards, businesses and public entities become more receptive. But it doesn’t stop there.
A business is in business to make money, bottom line. If it costs me money to make more money, I have to consider that. How about the expendable income the disability community put into the US economy in 2009-$225 billion! Restaurants alone saw $35 billion of that.
So we have a federal law that says I need to be accessible, we want to be sure all customers can access our establishment, and there is a pool of money out there I may be missing out on if I don’t respond.
Trainings are offered by a number of entities that will gladly educate for the sake of the common good. In Buffalo, we have followed in the footsteps of Nashville and developed the cutting edge program, Access Buffalo. As you’ll see below, the program is community driven and supported, all in the best interest of its residents and those that visit our fine city.

Here are some places you can go for high quality training for your staff:

On-line materials:

The DBTAC: Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, together with the national network of regional DBTACs, launched an initiative to promote accessibility and opportunity for people with disabilities within the hospitality industry. This site includes multiple brochures on providing access to restaurants and hotels, information on planning accessible meetings, accessibility checklists and other critical materials. A PowerPoint based training that you can adapt to deliver to hotels in your area is also available. 

Interested in Starting a Local Program? Here are some current NYS Initiatives

What is Access Buffalo?

Access Buffalo gathers and disseminates “accessibility-friendly” information about restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues in and around Western New York so that all persons can make informed decisions about where to dine, stay, and play. To do this, Access Buffalo provides accessibility and disability awareness training to college students who complete an “accessibility-friendly” survey at a designated restaurant as a course assignment.
Based on survey information, restaurants receive a “Wow,” “Good,” or “Limited” access rating. Although related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, the goal of Access Buffalo is focused on gathering accessibility information and does not intend to assess compliance with the accessibility requirements of the ADA.

How Will Being “Accessibility Friendly” Benefit a Restaurant?
  • The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2002 Survey indicates that more than 1 in 6 people in the country are potential customers for businesses that are accessible. $35 billion dollars was spent in restaurants by individuals with disabilities in America in 2009.
  • Tax credits may be available for expenses incurred in barrier removal
  • Each restaurant receives an accessibility rating, certificate, and listing on the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center and Access Buffalo websites.
  • We provide information that enhances the establishment’s business potential
  • All restaurants that partake in the survey will be identified on the Access Buffalo website which will provide a link to their website and directions to their restaurant. We are also featured on the Buffalo Niagara Convention Visitors Bureau website.
  • We are affiliated with the Western New York Independent Living Center, which can provide more information and support if needed.
Free Accessibility Services
  • Restaurants surveyed by Access Buffalo may request a free Braille menu from the Western New York Independent Living Center (716) 836-0822.
  • Free disability awareness training is available for staff and/or technical assistance to make your restaurant more accessible.
 
To Get Started, Contact:
David Whalen
Access Buffalo,
Co-Founder, Principal Investigator
(716) 565-9338
info@accessbuffalo.org
www.accessbuffalo.org
 
Legislative Updates:
  • Accessible hotel shuttles
  • Past legislation passed/not passed
  • Summary of laws
  • Take action alert
Need more information on Accessible Travel in NYS: Call 877 397-4126 NYSILC Toll Free Line.