Earlier this month, the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann (ILCNSCA) launched an ‘All People Accessible Business" (APAB) initiative, a public/private partnership between the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), and local businesses on the North Shore. The project is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and administered by the MRC.
The goal of this initiative is to build relationships between local business and people with disabilities. Accessible businesses that meet ADA and state accessibility standards are awarded the “ All People Accessible” designation and will publicly display the designation decal. As part of this initiative volunteers conduct accessibility surveys of participating local businesses; businesses found not to be fully accessible will receive guidance and assistance on how to improve access.
Attendees at the May 20th kickoff event at the ILCNSCA in downtown Salem included U.S. Congressman John Tierney, Massachusetts State Representative John Keenan, Director of the Massachusetts Recovery and Reinvestment Office, Mr. Jeffrey Simon, and ILCNSCA staff and board members. Volunteers and MRC staff and consumers, as well as representatives from local businesses and the North Shore Career Center were in attendance. Following remarks from Rep. Keenan and several of the ILCNSCA board members, the North Shore Career Center and Adriatic Restaurant and Bar were recognized for being the first two "All People Accessible" local businesses and were awarded APA decals.
Congressman Tierney stressed the importance of the “All People Accessible ” initiative as helping to create a more inclusive community for all residents. He also talked about how a little bit of federal funding can have a lasting impact on the community at large and benefit the economy.
The “All People Accessible” project is just one of a number of quality projects that the MRC supports that are designed to help individuals with disabilities go to work and live independently in the community. As Mr. Simon pointed out, the initiative has potential for wide-reaching and lasting impact. The project also satisfies both objectives of ARRA-supported projects as outlined by Governor Patrick: to have both an immediate economic impact and to yield quality, long lasting benefits and outcomes within the community.
I’m confident that “All People Accessible Business” designations will provide long-term benefit to the region as more businesses become increasingly accessible to people with disabilities, a population with an estimated $175 billion in purchasing power nationally. Clearly, this initiative is a win-win for all area residents and businesses and I look forward to witnessing the lasting impact of “All People Accessible” and the accessibility it creates at local businesses. Beyond making businesses accessible for consumers with disabilities, these improvements make businesses more accessible as workplaces and creates greater employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
For more information on the “All People Accessible” project, visit the Independent Living Center’s website at http://www.ilcnsca.org/.
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