The Norman Transcript

Government

November 9, 2012

Barriers coming down

(Continued)

NORMAN —

The symposium also will educate attendees on new ADA and Fair Housing regulations. While the target audience ranges from city governments, advocates, consumers, housing inspectors, housing specialists, code enforcement builders and architects, anyone may attend the free workshop, Hughes said.

However, registration is required and only a few slots remain.

While accessibility is important for people with disabilities, new standards benefit everyone. Hughes said accessible, universal design standards benefit those able-bodied folks who want to “age in place” in their homes as well as accommodate friends with disabilities.

Building guidelines recommend door width, bathroom access and other features. It’s more cost effective to build the accessible bathroom and shower you might some day need rather than pay to remodel and retrofit it for a wheelchair later in life, he said.

Building codes are supposed to monitor the new universal guidelines, but that doesn’t always happen, he said.

“The problem that we’ve run into is, the plans go in, but sometimes it (the building) doesn’t end up like the plan,” Hughes said.

Code inspectors can help by being fully versed on accessibility guidelines.

Transportation is also a major issue persons with disabilities face. One day, Progressive Independence employee John High needed to go to Oklahoma City. There was no public transit, and none of the local cab companies have accessible transportation for his electric wheelchair. He had to take Medride, which costs $75 each way.

Previewing the 2013 MV-1 at the symposium is an attempt to introduce a partial transportation solution. The MV-1 from Vehicle Production Group is the only universally accessible vehicle built for accessibility. The vehicle also has a model with CNG capability.

“There are a lot of cities that encourage cab companies to go in this direction,” High said. “We thought that this would be a good opportunity to showcase this vehicle.”

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