In Moscow, accessibility rocks
By Ellen Dennis, of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News •Aug 15, 2020
This summer marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Moscow’s Disability Action Center is celebrating the special occasion with a citywide rock-finding game.
Fifty painted rocks were hidden around Moscow to highlight specific areas or structures in town that are accessible to community members who have disabilities.
“We hid them in specific places in the city because Moscow is phenomenal at ADA accommodations — they go above and beyond just what’s regulated by the ADA when they’re building parks and access to sidewalks,” Vicki Leeper, Moscow Disability Action Center NW marketing specialist, said. “The city is amazing.”
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or ADA, is a civil rights law that makes discrimination toward people with disabilities illegal and affords them protections similar to those outlined in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Another important element of the ADA’s provisions are accessibility requirements in public-use areas and buildings. When people think of the phrase “ADA accessible,” their minds may jump straight to things like ramps, elevators and braille on directional signs. While those are all important amenities, there are many components of accessibility that may be overlooked.
One example of this is the necessity for curb cuts throughout sidewalks and pedestrian-crossing areas to provide access for people who operate wheelchairs, scooters or have other mobility methods which require them.
“There are a lot of areas in Moscow and other communities as well — especially in residential neighborhoods — that don’t have either the appropriate curb cuts or have a curb cut at all,” Leeper said. “What happens is the person who uses a wheelchair gets pushed into the street at that point in order to continue their journey.”
Areas without curb cuts can become particularly hazardous and difficult to navigate during winter months because of snowfall. One thing Leeper said Moscow community members can do to increase walkway accessibility is to regularly shovel and clear snow on sidewalks in their neighborhoods.
As for the hidden rocks, people can find them and bring them to the DAC NW drive-up ADA anniversary celebration from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 26 and exchange them for a free T-shirt.
The event, which will be held outside of the DAC NW office at 505 N Main St., is open to the public. Attendees can have a free hot dog, chips and a drink while supplies last. Masks will also be handed out to those who want to participate in the mask-decorating contest.
“It’s our way of celebrating the ADA and all the great work Moscow has done,” Leeper said.
Moscow is one of three cities in the state with a DAC NW office. The others are located in Lewiston and Post Falls.
Leeper said Moscow has made a lot of accessibility improvements in recent years, but there’s always room for additional improvement.
“What we want to do is get people out there aware of how much these ADA accessibility features improve the community for everybody — I don’t think people who don’t have disabilities are necessarily all that aware,” Leeper said. “Whenever you’re doing something in the city, you should think about accessibility and get that done as well.”
- Ellen Dennis can be reached at (208) 883-4632 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.