A report detailing an exhaustive six-month evaluation of the city’s accessibility is now available at www.somervillema.gov/departments/personnel/ADA and by clicking the link “Self-Evaluation Plan” on the right-hand side of the page.
Two public meetings will be held in August and in September, cosponsored by the city’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities, to gather community feedback that will develop this Self-Evaluation report into a living, multi-year Transition Plan to create equal access for all to the city’s streets, sidewalks, buildings, parks and programs. The first meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. at City Hall. A second meeting will be scheduled for September. Residents can also send questions and comments on the report via e-mail or phone.
The completed Self-Evaluation, which outlines a physical inventory of the city’s infrastructure and existing policies, practices and procedures regarding accessibility and identifies existing barriers to equal access, was delivered to the city on August 12 by the nonprofit Institute for Human Centered Design Firm of Boston, which the city had contracted. This report will form the basis for the Transition Plan which, when combined with public input, will detail the methodology and outline the time frame for removing those barriers.
“Public feedback is critical to assisting the City in prioritizing the barriers and issues identified in the Self-Evaluation that, if addressed, can make an immediate and meaningful difference in residents’ daily lives,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “This is a process years in the making and the city owes thanks to the community, the Somerville Commission for Persons with Disabilities and especially advocates such as Eileen Feldman and the Somerville Disabilities Rights Commission, who shined a spotlight on these issues. Thanks to their advocacy and work, these plans are becoming reality. I am committed to seeing this plan accomplished in full and the city proactively maintaining accessibility throughout our community.”
“The singular goal of the ADA is to enable persons with disabilities to lead full lives and to actively and equally participate in every aspect of their community, and Mayor Curtatone has made it clear to me and the rest of the staff that he wants to leave no one behind,” said Betsy Allen, the City’s ADA Coordinator. “The change advocates like Eileen Feldman sought so passionately is near. It is happening every day. Now, we call on these advocates and the entire city to own, shape and mold this change. The result we seek—a fuller and more integrated life for all–cannot happen without the continued passion, commitment and involvement of these advocates and others. The making of Somerville into a model of inclusiveness is a project worthy of our time, our commitment and the result will benefit all of us. Now is not the time to sit back, to be passive and silent. In keeping with the requirement and the spirit of the ADA, we want to see you and we want to hear from you.”
The Self-Evaluation and Transition plans are part of the city’s overall efforts to address accessibility throughout Somerville, along with the new Streetscape Plan and the active contributions of the Somerville Commission for Persons with Disabilities. The Commission meets monthly and works with the ADA Coordinator to knock down barriers. New Commission members are welcome.
To learn more about the city’s comprehensive plans to create equal access for all, please contact ADA Coordinator Betsy Allen at 617-625-6600 ext. 2323 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.