Southeast ADA Center PAR Research Highlights Need for Access and Inclusion

April 22, 2015

The March Goes On: Community Access for People with Disabilities - publication by BBI and Southeast ADA Center PAR Research Consortium finds that disparities remain despite civil rights legislation in communities

Katherine E. McDonald, Pamela Williamson, Sally Weiss, Meera Adya, Peter Blanck, and DBTAC: Southeast ADA Center PAR Research Consortium

Syracuse University

The NIDILRR-funded Southeast ADA Center has published an article, The March Goes On: Community Access for People with Disabilities (abstract), in the March issue of the Journal of Community Psychology. The article discusses the use of participatory action research (PAR) to understand present-day accessibility of important and understudied community settings. The authors find that, although progress has been made in providing access, barriers persist and more needs to be done to achieve full accessibility and inclusion. 

Although civil rights legislation designed to remove barriers to and promote full and equal participation in communities has led to some improvements, barriers remain. These barriers create participation disparities among people with disabilities, which in turn contribute to feelings of isolation and poorer health. We used participatory action research to understand present-day accessibility of important and understudied community settings, namely, state and local government facilities, programs, and services. Using an innovative approach to examining accessibility, we were able to compare the experiences of researchers with and without disabilities, thereby allowing us to identify disparities between the two groups. We found that some progress in providing access has been achieved but that other barriers persist; access for individuals with vision-related disabilities may be most problematic. Findings indicate that more needs to be done to achieve full accessibility and inclusion. C 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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