Petrina Thomas, Reaction #2, SOCG371M:Sect.1

Travel a Block in Our Shoes Shows That We May Be Moving in the Right Direction with Many Miles to Go
The Culpeper Disability Services Advisory Committee (DSAC) proves to be a dynamic and active group once again. Strong leadership, collaboration, impressive representation, goal oriented, hard work and openness to both ideas and community concerns are the first terms that come to mind in describing this committee that holds personally responsible those charged with accessibility for all. This past Saturday, October 17th, not only did the Culpeper DSAC offer guidance and input related to Downtown accessibility but they also brought out the best in our elected officials. Before assuming that these officials showed up for this accessibility awareness event based on elections around the corner, elections were rarely discussed and few constituents were present. The exercise was an opportunity that the Culpeper DSAC gave officials to personally experience accessibility barriers of Downtown Culpeper. A particularly ambitious member of the Culpeper Disability Services Advisory Committee had already printed and provided a large volume of downtown accessibility barriers to town officials last year for a reference. For effective accessibility improvements, it is crucial for the conversation to remain open because no one knows accessibility like the person who needs accessibility. Members of the Culpeper DSAC are available by phone, email or meetings to assist with these issues and it is strongly recommended that these discussions take place to make sure that changes made truly are accessible. In any locality, it is also crucial to have true representation of those who have personal expertise on accessibility in all planning processes. The town and county officials that were brave enough to show up to this thoughtful event obviously know the importance of this communication and open discussion and made the effort to both hear these concerns and recommendations but didn’t stop there because they experienced accessibility barriers downtown first hand. Participants were given the choice between experiencing accessibility of maneuvering sidewalks either without sight with the expert guidance of DBVI staff, Timothy Brown, also a long time DSAC member and past chair, or using a wheelchair. A volunteer had to be close behind the wheelchair because the grade of some of the curb cuts downtown is so steep, the wheelchair tipped backwards in an attempt to cross the street and would have caused injury. This shows that the participants literally placed their safety into our hands for the sake of downtown accessibility and should be congratulated along with the impressive efforts of DSAC members. As a lifetime community member, I feel fortunate to live in a place where there are individuals as proactive and concerned as the members of the Culpeper Disability Services Advisory Committee combined with the rare willingness of elected officials to not only listen to these concerns but go above and beyond the call of their duty to personally experience these concerns. This certainly represents a unique community that has much to offer. The success of the first “Travel a Block in Our Shoes” accessibility awareness event the Culpeper Disability Advisory Committee organized that invited and allowed elected officials to learn and experience accessibility barriers of downtown Culpeper proves that we are moving in the right direction with open discussion but have many miles to go to achieve true accessibility. The Culpeper Disability Services Advisory Committee (DSAC) also showed advanced planning strategies from which localities can learn by collaborating with the disAbility Resource Center who assisted with planning, equipment and offered participants accessibility information, ADA guidelines and proposals, as well as free training opportunities to localities and planners through the ADA Leadership Network which offers the following:
Customized training provided to those directly and indirectly affected by the Americans with Disabilities Act from dRC’s ADA Leadership Network Trainer. Available free trainings, which can be customized to meet your needs, include:
• Understanding the ADA
• Getting hired and moving ahead in a job when working with a disability
• Hiring people with disabilities: Tapping into talent
• Serving customers with disabilities
• Reaching individuals with disabilities: Accessibility in Federal, State and Municipal entities
• Reaching individuals with disabilities: Accessibility in private or commercial businesses
• Accessible technology in the workplace
• Accessible websites
More information about the ADA Leadership Network Trainings may be obtained at
Information about the Culpeper Disability Services Advisory Committee can be found at the Culpeper County website Meetings are open to the public and held the fourth Wednesday of every month at 9:00 am in the Board Conference Room at 302 N. Main St. Culpeper, VA 22701.

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