Community infrastructure and accessibility impacts both the quality of life and health of the resident population. For many people with disabilities, infrastructural accessibility also influences community participation. Accessibility is so vital to people with disabilities it is central to federal legislation, state regulations, and municipal ordinances. Despite its importance, however, there are no standard measures of infrastructural accessibility for making systematic comparisons across communities or for focusing efforts.
The Community Accessibility project included the development and evaluation of a model for applying scientific methods to monitor implementation of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in rural communities. By developing a standard assessment of access, legislators, city planners, and advocates can identify gaps and needed improvements at a community level, rather than on a case by case basis.
To determine a metric for a town’s accessibility, a standard instrument was used to assess a random sample of businesses or places of public commerce within the community. For each selected business, the community assessment instrument measured accessibility features of parking location and signage, route to the business entry, business doorway and entrance, and business interior. The following publications explore development of the instrument and assessment of Montana’s small towns and the Missoula community.
The Community Accessibility study provides a scientific framework for creating baseline measures of public accessibility consistent with the ADA. The methods have the potential to measure progress in achieving goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act at a community, state, and national level.
- Project dates: 2003-2008
- Funded by: National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research Grant No. H133B030501
- Principal staff: Tom Seekins, Ph.D., Nancy Arnold, Ph.D., Catherine Ipsen, Ph.D.
- Related projects: