News Release

Disability Committee Works to Increase Access & Mobility, Partners to Create Awareness
Posted: 7/31/2017 1:00 PM
 
 

Committee Projects Released in 2nd Quarterly Report


The Mayor-President’s Awareness Committee for Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD) actively seeks to identify unique solutions to mobility and accessibility challenges in order to create a more inclusive community for those living with a disability. Ongoing Downtown accessibility improvements have been the main focus of the ACCD and the committee has identified and prioritized several key points of interest. Focusing on areas most in need of improvements, highest areas of traffic and overall functionality, the committee is working to understand and address accessibility issues facing handicapped citizens in Downtown Lafayette.
 
“Poor connectivity for wheelchair-bound citizens can be a hindrance to independence,” stated ACCD Chairman Liam Doyle who knows all too well the challenge of navigating sidewalks in a wheelchair. “Working Downtown and living on the edge of Downtown, I’m out and about every day – to and from work – and I can tell you, it’s not easy. With years of experience, I have learned how to negotiate the curbs, broken sidewalks and lack of sidewalks,” Doyle said.
 
Thanks in part to the ACCD for increasing awareness of this issue, Lafayette Consolidated Government is planning Downtown accessibility improvements with sidewalk installations, repairs and curb cut-ins. The 2017-2018 budget will include $300,000 for accessibility projects and the Robideaux administration has committed up to $900,000 for improvements along potions of St. Landry, St John, West Vermilion and Convent Streets, and surrounding areas. According to Doyle, “This investment not only helps those with disabilities, but also seniors, pedestrians, people with strollers and bicyclists, just to name a few.” These improvements are the culmination of a three year passion project for Doyle and the ACCD as a whole, “I applaud Mayor Robideaux, the City-Parish Council and LCG for making accessibility a priority. This is the vital first step towards inclusion, and I'm thrilled to be involved.”
 
Doyle has long been a voice for disabled citizens and leads the ACCD’s efforts in education and awareness to address the matters such as handicapped parking availability and Para-Transit reform, among other things. “Proximity to a building’s entrance, space for loading and unloading wheelchair equipment and weather all play a significant factor in the ability for citizens in wheelchairs to move in and out of a vehicle,” he said. Working with other advocacy groups, Doyle hopes to remind drivers that observing a handicapped parking sign is not just the law, but it is also the right thing to do. The D.R.E.A.M.S. Foundation of Acadiana and the Advocacy Center of Louisiana (AC) have partnered to produce a 30 second public service announcement titled “Think Before You Park,” which is intended to just that.
 
The video depicts two adolescents, “Madison” who is in a wheelchair and “Jacob” who is not. The narrator states it takes Madison an exponentially longer time to accomplish everyday tasks, especially getting in and out of the car. The video shows Jacob’s mother illegally parking in a handicapped spot saying, “We’re just going to be a minute.” The viewers then see another driver honking because Madison and her mom are forced to block the lane in order to unload due to the illegally parked vehicle in the handicapped space. The message is, “When you park in a handicapped spot, you’re making steps for those who can’t walk. Think before you park.” View the PSA at lafayettela.gov/DAC/Pages. 
 
A listing of other ACCD projects and initiatives was recently released in the committee’s Second Quarter Report, which can be found at www.lafayettela.gov/dac. The ACCD was established in 2007 to give a greater voice to citizens living with disabilities in Lafayette Parish and serves in an advisory capacity to LCG. The committee meets on the third Monday of each month in the Council Briefing Room on the first floor of City Hall. Monthly ACCD meetings are open to the public.  For committee meeting details, including times and agendas, visit www.lafayettela.gov/Calendar.