Mélange Accessibility for All Magazine October 2020 | Page 108

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My Trip to Acessible Israel

By Fred Maahs , Jr .
I grew up attending Catholic schools and spent many hours during my youth studying the Bible , the Holy Land , and the origins of my faith during religion class or in church . For me , Jerusalem and the birthplace of Christ were places that were held with absolute reverence . I never imagined that I would actually visit these holy places , especially after an accident that left me paralyzed from the chest down and using a wheelchair when I was scheduled to begin my first year at college .
I ’ ve always been a firm believer that things happen for a reason . The purpose of my trip to Israel is yet another affirmation for me that God has a plan for all of us .
M 360-Access is a service which maps and shares accessible features of public spaces. It is not crowd- sourced nor contains vague statements such as a mere “we’re accessible.” This service asks simple but detailed questions based on the ADA guidelines. See public restroom section shown here: adonna Long and Joanne Peterson are the founders of 360-Access. An auto accident rendered Joanne less than fully mobile. After learning to walk again, she used canes and crutches to get around and have recently added a scooter and oxygen to her devices. When Madonna was 18 years old, her High School bus was returning from a skiing trip from Utah back to Wyoming. On its way down the mountain in Utah, the brakes failed. Her best friend died in that accident and she was left paralyzed from the waist down. Madonna Long Joanne Peterson When Joanne plans trips or attempt to take people out for a meal, she first makes calls to verify information about the facilities, which is time consuming and not always helpful or accurate. On one of her recent trips to Pittsburgh, she arranged a lunch for Madonna, and three others. The place boasted of valet parking but on arrival, there was no valet or convenient parking at lunch time. They were scheduled to be next door to attend a conference but the side doors of the building were locked and they had to navigate their way to the front of the building to gain entrance, which was yet another barrier as covering distances was an issue. Madonna’s many years of navigating accessibility throughout Wyoming, Nevada and the places she lived proved difficult. She found there was a 30 to 50 percent chance that places were accessible or a restroom or restaurant was free of barriers. It really was apparent to them that a system to map accessibility was definitely needed. Joanne and Madonna first met at a networking event. During a conversation, Madonna casually mentioned that Visit Pittsburgh once asked her whether it will be possible to show which of their member companies were accessible. She said her response to them was “no, because it would take technology and a database” to get that done. Joanne however explained it would be relatively easy for her to do because her day job involved developing systems that report on legislative or regulatory compliance! The 360-Access project was started soon after, with two other contributors Amy Malmgren and Andrew Neilson. Sadly, they both passed away in 2018 when they the project was about 90% complete. Losing these two key contributors caused them to regroup and pivot, ultimately going live with 360-Access on July 26th in celebration of the ADA turning 30. To Table of Contents To Table of Contents