Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Access Monitor Training at the PEM

Andy LaPointe introduces Mayor Kim Driscoll at the recent Access Monitor training held at the Peabody Essex Museum.

The Salem Commission on Disabilities, along with the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann, recently sponsored a two-day Access Monitor training course at the Peabody Essex Museum. Taught by the Massachusetts Office on Disability, the course is for building inspectors, advocates, people with disabilties and others to learn the rules and regulations for access to sidewalks, parking lots, entrances, restrooms and other architectural features for people with disabilities.

I went through the training last year in Beverly, and it was very comprehensive. There's a lot of legal information that we go through, but a good part of the training is hands-0n:

In the photo, our students are learning about the slope of a sidewalk, and the maximum permissible slope for a curb cut (5 degrees). The level on the sidewalk is a common digital level sold at Sears.

The other practical training, not shown here, involves restrooms. There's a bewildering number of dimensions and specifications for toilets and urinals, sinks and grab bars. When I took this training last year, I was crammed in a bathroom with 10 other people watching the instructor take measurements of all the various things in a bathroom which are invisible to us until we can't use them. It was probably just as well I didn't photograph this.

Community Access Monitors are volunteers who work with the Mass. Office on Disability, but do not represent the office. They get invitations to businesses, schools, offices and other establishments that serve the public, including people with disabilities. They are trained to evaluate these places and their accommodations for people with disabilities. They do not enforce the regulations--that is handled by the state Architectural Access Board. We on the Commission deal with the AAB on a regular basis, making the training that much more important to us.

We were delighted to represent Salem at this training session. Our Andy LaPointe did a great job arranging space with the Peabody Essex Museum; as Mayor Driscoll put it, our students experienced the best side of Salem for two days!

P.S. One of our commission members and a dear colleague of mine, Dave Martel, was recently honored with Advocate of the Year by the Independent Living Center , as presented by Congressman Tierney at the ILC's Legislative Breakfast last Friday. Give him a pat on the back, it's well deserved!

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