Guest Op-Ed: Striving to Create an Inclusive City for All

By Mayor Martin Walsh

In July, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADA is a landmark piece of civil rights legislation. It bans discrimination and it requires that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else.

On this anniversary we reflect on how far we have come as a nation, and we reaffirm our city’s commitment to leading the way forward. Here in Boston, we go beyond basic compliance by working proactively with the disability community toward full and equal participation. Led by Commissioner Kristen McCosh, The Mayor’s Commission for Persons with Disabilities strives to make our environment, our services and our attitudes welcoming and equitable for all.

In recognition of the ADA, the Commission held a poster contest on “What the ADA means to You.” Entries were posted online and voting was open to the public. Atara Schimmel, a local amateur artist and disability advocate who works on issues related to chronic pain, took first place in the contest. The runner-up poster was created by Susan Hatch, a resident of The Boston Home in Dorchester.

As a city, we have made remarkable strides towards equality. As we continue to grow in people and diversity, we must ensure that all of our residents have equal opportunity to thrive. That means thinking carefully and creatively about access to everything from the most meaningful experiences to the most basic services.

I am proud to announce we have broken barriers here at City Hall, right outside of my office, with the recent addition of gender neutral bathrooms. These facilities provide safe and accommodating spaces for everyone, regardless of gender identity, physical ability or need for assistance.

I am also excited to announce two new initiatives coming this fall.

First, we will be mapping accessible pedestrian routes in Boston. The Disability Commission and Public Works Department will be working together on a smartphone app that will allow people to navigate routes that have accessible sidewalks and curb ramps.   Additionally, we are working with local businesses to improve access to stores and restaurants in Boston’s Main Streets districts. Our goal is to continually look for ways to reach equity, to empower people with disabilities and to make our city more inclusive.

Our guiding vision is of One Boston—a thriving, healthy and innovative city for all. That means we need everyone enabled and empowered to contribute their talents. We each have a role to play in making Boston the best city it can possibly be. I ask everyone to join me, as we come together as a community to embrace our diversity and create full and equal participation in all aspects of life.

For more information on what the City is doing to support those with disabilities, please visit cityofboston.gov/disability.

 

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