Monday, March 9, 2009

Winooski working on accessibility... how about Burlington?

Winooski is a fraction of the size of Burlington, and they're solving their accessibility problems... how about Burlington schools? From today's Burlington Free Press...
Committee making Winooski more accessible

WINOOSKI -- A committee has been working quietly for more than a year to improve access to Winooski buildings for people who are physically disabled.

The Winooski Accessibility Committee, formed in September, 2007, is helping people who are disabled deal with problems with getting into public buildings and other areas of the city.

Committee member Lynn Hatin said the group has already contributed to improvements on the railroad tracks on East Allen Street. Wheelchairs tended to get caught on the tracks, so the city made some modifications so that wheelchairs can roll by unhindered.

The committee noticed that doors at the Winooski Community Center initially did not open automatically, making it difficult for people with disabilities to get inside, Hatin said. The doors have since been modified, and Hatin said the city was cooperative when the issue was brought up.

Hatin said people sometimes say that if a building isn't completely handicapped accessible, others can help people in wheelchairs gain access. But she said people like her, who use a wheelchair, prefer not ask for help. "We want to be independent," she said.

The next task is City Hall, said Suzan Maynard, chairwoman of the accessibility committee. It's difficult or impossible for people in wheelchairs to open the building's doors, she said.

The committee is not asking the city to spend money on improvements. The committee will likely seek grant money to pay for the needed work. City officials have been receptive to the idea of altering City Hall's doors, Maynard said.

Maynard said everyone in Winooski deserves to have full access to the city's buildings. "I can no longer walk on my own, but I shouldn't have to sit in a corner now," she said. "Life goes on and people need to realize that we have just as much of a right to access as others," she said.

The Winooski Accessibility Committee meets at 5:30 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at City Hall. The next committee meeting is in April.

Contact Matt Sutkoski at 660-1846 or

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