Many of us have stubbed a toe or tripped while walking the streets of Athens. We feel embarrassed, recover, and keep going. But for some of us, these “little bumps” in the sidewalk or at curb cuts make traveling through our streets and neighborhoods hazardous. At best, they limit someone’s ability to get to where they plan to go and, at worst, cause injury. The Accessibility Committee of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities works with the City of Athens by calling attention to accessibility issues and partners with City officials to find ways to make improvements so all members of our community can participate in everyday life activities including shopping, voting, going to the movies, and eating at our local restaurants.

On Thursday, April 8, from 12-1 p.m., the Accessibility Committee is hosting a virtual “Lunch and Learn” Walk and Roll and invites the public, including business owners, to join us. Participants will talk about how the City incorporates accessibility in its construction and renovation projects, demonstrate how to use the City Source app which is designed for community members to report issues including accessibility issues, give examples of some uptown issues that cause accessibility and safety issues, and provide simple ways businesses and organizations can make changes to allow more customers to access their programs and services.

Event presenters include Noah Trembly, vice president for the City Commission on Disabilities; Jessica Adine, interim director for Engineering and Public Works for the City of Athens; Dianne Bouvier, secretary for the City Commission; Rob Delach, Accessibility Committee member, and Davey McNelly, president for the City Commission. The Walk and Roll will be available on the City of Athens Facebook page at facebook.com/cityofathensohinfo, as well as on the City Government Channel. ASL interpreting will be provided. Contact me, dianne.bouvier3@gmail.com, if an additional accommodation is needed.

The City Commission has conducted audits of various community and business spaces and sent recommendations to the City aimed to enhance overall accessibility. Issues discovered include the need to align and clearly designate pathways at street intersections, provide smooth surfaces at crosswalks, and improve uptown accessible parking. The Commission also works with the City of Athens to identify priority accessibility issues for upcoming renovation projects. One of City’s solutions includes grinding sidewalk edges to smooth the walkways in the uptown area.

Through the commitment of the City Commission on Disabilities and the City of Athens, we are making Athens more accessible one step at a time. Join us to learn how to notify the City of accessibility improvements and what those improvements may be. We depend on everyone to make issues known – that’s the only way our City will become the accessible place we would like it to be. To join us in our work, send us an email: disabilitiescommission@ci.athens.oh.us.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Dianne Bouvier retired from Ohio University as the Associate Director for University Accessibility. She is president of the Passion Works Board, a member of Calliope Feminist Choir, and serves as secretary and Mayor’s Designee to the Athens City Commission on Disabilities and on the Accessibility Committee.

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