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It's accessible - I'm almost sure!

It's Accessible--I'm Almost Sure!

Accessibility has been a priority issue of the National Rehabilitation Association since 1983 when it adopted a resolution submitted by the Michigan Rehabilitation Association to require a reporting of the accessibility status of all NRA sponsored programs and activities. More specifically, the resolution stated in part, "that while NRA has committed itself to assuring ... accessibility of its events, programs and activities, that the Association be resolved to indicate the accessibility status ... of the event. program or activity...."

While the intent of that resolution is clear, its implications and boundaries are continuing to be determined and, as yet, remain uncharted. Further, the National Rehabilitation Association's Board of Directors voted in 1985 in Des Moines, Iowa, to require "that starting in 1991 any city applying for an NRA conference site should submit the (completed) Accessibility Evaluation Survey with their proposal to host a conference."

Work will continue as the National Rehabilitation Association puts into operation the full meaning of its resolution by identifying and selecting accessible sites for conferences and meetings.

As a part of its determination to carry out the mandate for accessible meetings, the National Rehabilitation Association printed its premier edition of the NRA Manual of Accessibility in 1985 and distributed it concurrently with that year's annual meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

Additionally, NRA adopted a resolution that it would not hold any meetings in facilities that did not meet minimum accessibility criteria. Those minimum criteria comprise the basic contents of the NRA Manual for Accessibility.

Thus, the National Rehabilitation Association had begun to put into operation its philosophical desire to provide for more complete participation of all attendees at meetings and conferences.

That initial Manual for Accessibility was subsequently revised, and is now in second printing and will be utilized in conjunction with the ACCESS U.S. program. This nationwide service project was announced by 1989 NRA President Bill Brownfield at the Association's most recent yearly assembly in November 1988 in Reno, Nevada. The ACCESS U.S. program is now being initiated, with the first surveyor training session held in Seattle, Washington, on February 17.

What is ACCESS U.S.?

ACCESS U.S. is a national project promoting access in the United States for persons with disabilities through the surveying, identification and publication of conference, meeting, and lodging facilities which meet the National Rehabilitation Association's minimum accessibility guidelines. Further, it is a two-track project. Track A involves the training of individuals to survey facilities using the minimum accessibility guidelines approved by the National Rehabilitation Association. In 1989, the goal is to train 80-100 people in the rehabilitation field nationwide to perform accessibility surveys. Track B is the marketing component of the project. It entails the National Rehabilitation Association, and its chapters and divisions, seeking endorsements and utilization of these minimum accessibility guidelines by allied groups in the disability community.


Accessibility Guidelines?

The National Rehabilitation Association accessibility guidelines are just that, a reasonable approach to accessibility. We recognize many state, city and county codes for accessibility go much further than the NRA Manual for Accessibility. These guidelines are not intended to be design standards for architects or builders. These guidelines, however, will allow persons with disabilities to access meetings and conferences and, thus, gain further participation into the mainstream of the United States.

The National Rehabilitation Association's adoption of a resolution indicating that it would not meet in facilities that do not meet minimum criteria is a firm commitment on the part of the National Rehabilitation Association to uphold the rights of persons to access meetings and to ensure consistency in site selection.

Where did ACCESS U.S. start?

The National Rehabilitation Association Board of Directors requested ideas for a national service project that could be participated in by all NRA members. Several suggestions were considered and ACCESS U.S. -- the service project -- was chosen. More specific information about the project's long-range activities will be discussed during future surveyor training sessions to be announced later this year and publicized in future issues of the NRA Newsletter.

Who is specifically involved

in this national project?

The ACCESS U.S. Task Force, appointed in 1988 by Bill Brownfield, includes Cleo Ann Eliason, Sheila Hackett-Williams and Chairperson Spencer Mosley. The task force, along with President Bill Brownfield and NRA staff Dr. Robert E. Brabham and Judy Peck, first met in August 1988. The basic two-part design for undertaking was agreed upon, i.e. Track A and B.

The common concern of program and meeting planners in determining accessibility of hotels and lodging facilities has been the response received from facilities when queried concerning the accessibility of their buildings. Generally, a response from the facility personnel would be, "It's accessible" followed by a hopeful and parenthetical, "I'm almost sure." While well intentioned, the staff persons understandably have difficulty in the certainty of their hotels' accessibility due to the many interpretations of the word, "accessibility."

ACCESS U.S. is the National Rehabilitation Association's attempt toward providing individuals, groups and associations with answers in the accessibility questions in a more uniform manner.

Surveyor training will be directed by the ACCESS U.S. Task Force Committee in various sites determined by areas of concentrated interest in the training and also by a reasonable geographic travel. Activities of the one-day, 8-hour session include: provision of skills specific to surveying hotel, motel and lodging facilities, a background and philosophy of accessibility surveying, a slide presentation, survey equipment and individual surveying experience. The NRA Manual for Accessibility is also provided and utilized in surveyor training. Surveying experience will involve the actual onsite measurement and assessment of such hotel features as parking and walkways, entrances, interior circulation, public restrooms, meeting rooms, and guest rooms. These areas are all specifically detailed in the NRA Manual for Accessibility, which also contains a building access survey form. Subsequent to the 1989 surveyor training sessions, there will be developed a cadre of persons who will be provided additional instruction preparing them as trainers to conduct additional surveyor training sessions.

As a hallmark of this national service project, ACCESS U.S. has developed a logo to be used in conjunction with its training, promotion and activities. The logo, on the front cover, was specifically designed to transmit the intent of the Association's project, namely for all people in the United States to have "Access to the U.S."

The breadth of the ACCESS U.S. project could be extremely large given the many and varied ways in which accessibility may be explored and applied locally and nationally. It is critical to proceed with caution in order to provide quality of accomplishment in preference to quantity of accomplishment and to avoid the statement, "It's accessible--I'm almost sure."
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Access U.S.
Author:Mosley, Spencer
Publication:The Journal of Rehabilitation
Date:Jan 1, 1989
Next Article:Recognize "sleepy" workers by asking the right questions early in the rehabilitation process.

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