CPC Member – Clidia Gibson

Accessibility is a subject no one thinks about until they have to!  That certainly applied to my family until about 1986.  My husband had been diagnosed as having Multiple Sclerosis around 1983, and a few years later began using a scooter. We then acquired a used van with a wheelchair lift.  Then, we had to find a “handicapped parking” spot, find a place to get on to the sidewalk, (probably a spot where a driveway crossed it) and then find a place of business or restaurant we could enter.  We considered ourselves lucky if it all worked out.  When he wanted to open an IRA, the broker came out to our van parked in a city parking lot to conduct business.  This went on for a few years until the company moved to an accessible location.  Trips were fairly stressful and many times, we simply went to the drive-thru of a fast food place because it was the easiest thing to do.  We joined a local support group of people who were mobility impaired.  During our monthly meetings, we would regularly share information about accessible businesses and restaurants. The support group, SPOKES, became anIndependentLivingCenterin 1988, serving people with all disabilities. With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, things gradually began to change.

 

Today, with universal access in place, most people no longer have to think about accessibility.  There are plenty of accessible, code compliant parking spaces available.  Curb cuts are the norm. Rarely is a business inaccessible.  At the end of the 2009 road construction season, the City of Klamath Falls reported approximately 185 newly installed ADA compliant ramp corners.  The City ADA Committee is now considering the idea of recommending the implementation of “Senior Zones” in areas of senior housing.  This means that traffic signals would be longer, allowing a slower walking person to cross the street before the signal changes. Just think of the all the new technology that has become available to people with vision and hearing impairments in the last 20 years!  I’m sure the next 20 years will see even more amazing inventions!

 

Granted, there are still some barriers such as attitudinal ones (which can’t be legislated!)  We just need to keep educating people-adults and children- in order to make changes.  Currently, I participate on the City ADA Committtee, Klamath County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Community Partners Council (OHSU), and Access Technologies Inc Advisory Council.  By working with others over the years, I feel that I have helped to make a difference in my corner of the world.  I hope that you, too, will continue your advocacy or perhaps become inspired to get started making a difference where you live!

 

 

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