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Public facilities accessible for all should be the goal

“The goal of the accessibility advisory commission is to create a more inclusive Williamsport by ensuring that all residents have access to programs and properties.”

That’s a draft mission statement for the city’s new Accessibility Advisory Commission, created in the past year by City Council as it strives to come into compliance with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

Newly seated, the commission members are in the early stages of discussion and study of city government facilities.

Sparked by unmet ADA mandates and protests over accessibility issues in City Hall prior to the coronavirus pandemic, this commission will be exploring areas that have been overlooked in the past. Among their first priorities will be an examination of city parks for “inclusivity.”

That’s the latest buzzword that we’ve been seeing when it comes to the development of new park areas not just in Williamsport but in other area communities, and those who think along these lines are to be applauded.

Inclusivity is a natural societal evolution, as we see it, and this movement represents progress for members of the disabled community.

Their members come from all walks of life.

Let’s face it, life is beyond challenging when legs don’t work, when eyes don’t see, when hearing fails, when babies are born with birth defects, when disease takes an unthinkable toll, when soldiers come back from war missing body parts, when people survive horrific accidents to live with paralysis — when the deck of life deals a less-than-favorable card and then that person is expected to adapt to the world around them. And it could happen to anyone.

Adaptation is just not that easy. But it is easy to overlook the needs of those with physical challenges unless somebody points out the problems.

So, yes, the fact that this new commission is starting this work is commendable.

Their work won’t be easy; accommodating the needs they identify will take time, money and a willingness to see things from their point of view.

Nonetheless, this is a step in the right direction.

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