Louisville Metro Sweep for Access

Restaurants. Antique stores. Consignment shops. Bars. Hardware stores. Can a wheelchair get in? Bookstores. Hair salons. Banks. Bakeries. Do you have access? To coffee shops? Law offices?

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5 THINGS METROSWEEP WANTS YOU TO KNOW

1. The requirement for access has been a legal requirement for well over a decade. What MetroSweep wants is for businesses to obey the law. The law is the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. The Kentucky Civil Rights Act also requires businesses to obey the federal ADA.

2. Inaccessibility is inaccessibility. PERIOD. Sometimes you'll hear a reporter say "steps make it difficult for people in wheelchairs to..." No; steps make it impossible. One step makes it impossible (See No. 4, below: "access means independent access."). If a business owner tells you that they will "help a person in a wheelchair," and if you report that, be aware that access laws do not consider this to be legal access.

3. What is the true cost of access? When a business tells you it cost $10,000 or $50,000 or $100,000 for "handicap access" (and the correct term is merely "access"; "barrier removal" is another good way of saying it), find out: how much of that cost is actually for meeting the legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act? It is natural for a business owner to give the total cost of a renovation as the "cost for access." But, for example, with a renovation that includes an outdoor patio, with a plaza, outdoor lights, edging, plantings, etc., the true "cost for access" can be figured as the DIFFERENCE between what it would have cost to pour concrete steps to that outdoor patio and the cost to pour a concrete ramp which meets code requirements for access. The misrepresentation of the "cost for access," while likely not done out of malice, gives a false understanding of the true cost of opening a business to customers with disabilities.

4. Access means "independent access." If a person needs help getting in a door, then the business does not provide access. Temporary ramps, doorbells and signs noting that "assistance will be provided" is NOT access. It is not what the law requires, and it is not what MetroSweep is seeking. Metrosweep wants businesses to comply with the 1990 federal law.

5. Access, for MetroSweep, means integrated access. Customers who use wheelchairs want to come in the same door everybody else does. That is the goal of MetroSweep -- full, integrated access. Separate entrances, back-alley entrances, locked wheelchair entrances with or without doorbells -- MetroSweep does not support these "solutions."

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