Woman knows, first-hand, that accessibility matters

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Theresa Williams was doing her part as a member of the City Planning Commission as it reviewed an outdoor performance stage concept by the Community Arts Center.

She noticed the two steps on the design of the stage, and no area to accommodate anyone in a wheelchair. After some talk, she was informed that the final design would be handicapped accessible.

“I was in a severe car accident,” Williams told the Sun-Gazette.

It put her in a wheelchair for eight years and gave her some perspective from which to sit on a commission that reviews projects in the city.

After the crash, Williams went to Pennsylvania College of Technology. By graduation day, she had healed enough to get up out of her wheelchair and walk with assistance to receive her diploma. She said students and staff stood up and cheered.

She worked for a period at the Center for Independent Living and has noticed improvement around the city over the years when it comes to accessibility issues.

Most banks are lowering their counters, enabling those in wheelchairs to easily conduct business and many restaurants and businesses have improved their access, but problem areas remain, she said.

It often is a matter of dignity, she said, for people in wheelchairs to get inside a building or open a door on their own, as opposed to having to wait for someone else to do it for them.