When we talk about making Boston more accessible, what does that actually mean? Reports from both the Republican and Democratic National Convention from attendees who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices make it clear that a widespread understanding of what accessibility actually entails is not in place.
Let’s begin by talking about wheelchair ramps. If a wheelchair ramp is blocked by a security fence, it is not accessible. If a wheelchair ramp is blocked by vehicles parked in front of, or in some cases, on it, it is not accessible. Wheelchair ramps that can’t be found, because no one knows where they’re installed, or that are installed in inexplicably remote and bewildering locations, such as in the back of a building, leading into a shipping and receiving area, are not true accessibility.
There have been many heartwarming stories of convention attendees who have worked together to provide access to the convention by helping people who use wheelchairs overcome the lack of vital infrastructure. But let us be clear: having a group of relative strangers come together and bodily lift you and your wheelchair over curbs, stairways, and other barriers to entry is not a pleasant experience. Although people are well intentioned, the risk is great, and the consequences of a fall, slip, or accident can be serious. Additionally, the loss of autonomy and independence that comes secondary to being denied accessibility is not at all pleasant to experience.
In Boston, we have many, many events that should be accessible to all. If you’re involved with the planning and organization of these events, talk to us about having wheelchair ramps installed. National Ramp Systems are ideal for temporary installation for high traffic events and can support everyone’s efforts to attend your event and participate fully. Our team will be happy to help you understand what is needed to make your event truly accessible – we are here to help!