Freedom of access and opportunity is a right protected by law for all Americans. However, it is still a dream for some. An absence of wheelchair accessible options limits the freedom of wheelchair users, but their need is being seen. Many cities are moving to make their opportunities open to all.
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation has compiled a list of the top 10 wheelchair accessible cities in the United States.
The list is based on a specific set of criteria to help determine the true accessibility and livability of a city for wheelchair users. Wheelchair accessible items are almost never as they seem, nor are any two wheelchair users needs the same. Every city has work yet to be done.The criteria measured were:
Climate (extreme temperatures and annual snowfall)
Number of Physicians
Number of Rehab Centers
Number of Rehab Specialists
Wheelchair Accessible Transit
Number of disabled living in the area, and their employment rate
Age of the City (older cities are harder to renovate)
The top 10 wheelchair accessible cities, as ranked by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, are as follows.
Home to a new Citibus bus system specifically designed to be accessible to full-sized wheelchairs and a consistently warm climate score big for wheelchair users here.
A vast healthcare system, warm climate, and Lynx wheelchair accessible bus system place Orlando in a standing to be proud of.
The Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Novant Health facilities carry this city to the 8th place position. Healthcare is king in Winston-Salem.
The Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority has nearly 2 dozen paratransit buses in operation. This paired with the University of Alabama in Birmingham and HealthSouths medical resources make Birmingham a jewel of the South.
Despite the colder climate, the Windy City ranks high for making 90 of all 145 rail stations ADA compliant, and the Healthy Community Mapping System that the University of Illinois is creating for the city to track the actual accessibility of buildings, fitness centers, sidewalks and stores is a big boon.
Transportation is king in Portland. The city’s buses, MAX light rail trains and streetcars all accommodate wheelchairs, but the TriMet transportation system’s Lift service provides riders more than 250 minibuses and more than a dozen cars to take them around the city.
All transportation options in the Mile-High City give wheelchair users priority seating. The Access-a-Ride program offers to take wheelchair users anywhere within a three-quarter mile radius of the transit system as well.
Very little precipitation hits this city, making overall travel easier for all. Reno also gives disabled riders of public transportation a discount on each and every ride.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
With 3 major hospitals in tow, mild winters, and the citys 100% ADA compliant ABQ Ride bus and bus rapid transit services, this city is hard to contend with for wheelchair accessibility.
Harborview Medical Center, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center, University of Washington Medical Center and the VA all call Seattle home, and all 5 are made wheelchair accessible by Sound Transit’s bus and light rail lines. Paratransit van service supplement this service as well. Metro Transit, meanwhile, offers a shared ride program, a map of accessible downtown routes and reduced fares.
Micah Christensen is a freelance writer for BraunAbility and is enjoying getting to know the customers and the personal stories that make up our audience on AbilityVoice.