Walk, Talk, and Roll 2023 aims to increase accessibility in uptown Athens

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – The Accessibility and Advocacy Committee of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities is organizing the fifth Walk, Talk, and Roll event in uptown Athens on Friday. The event aims to address infrastructure issues that pose mobility challenges, such as crosswalks without curb ramps and uneven brick alleyways.

During the event, Commission Chair Davy McNelly and Rob Delach will lead a group through town, examining real-life examples of both successful and problematic accessibility measures.

The Commission has collaborated with the City on street-scaping projects to improve accessibility in the past, including the massive Stimson Avenue sidewalk and street improvement project.

“So on Stimson Avenue, that was of course a very long project to make that sidewalk and street better,” McNelly said. “The Athens City Commission on Disabilities worked very closely with City engineers to make sure it was accessible as we could get it. You’ll notice some really good crosswalks, really good sidewalks that are wide enough for various mobility issues. And overall, the city did a really great job with that. I think it was partially due to feedback, but it was also just good work from the contractors and the City, as well.”

The flyer for the 2023 Walk, Talk, and Roll event. All information is also in the article.

The event provides a crucial venue for dialogue between business owners, community members, and the City of Athens. By attending the event, business owners can gain insights into the barriers people face when accessing their establishments.

The event emphasizes that even minor redesigns can greatly enhance accessibility, requiring joint efforts between businesses and the City.

“Sometimes all it takes is a little redesign to make a space accessible – but it does require collaboration between businesses and the City to make sure the redesign is effective,” Dianne Bouvier, Vice Chair of the Commission, said.

To support the cause, the Commission has partnered with the City to promote an accessibility grant available to Athens businesses. This grant allows business owners to apply for up to $15,000, which the City will match if the project is approved by the Athens City Commission on Disabilities. The funds can be utilized for various accessibility improvements, such as installing door openers, creating braille menus, or constructing ramps.

The selection procedure is highly competitive due to limited funding. Applications are being accepted through June 30. Apply at this link.

The Walk, Talk, and Roll 2023 event will commence at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, beginning in front of Passion Works Studio (20 West State Street.) Participants will embark on a walking/rolling journey, concluding at 12:15 p.m. in Howard Park, situated at the intersection of College and Union Streets. Following this, there will be a brief program and refreshments. Dr. Micah McCarey, director of the Ohio University LGBT Center, Commission member, and Athens City Council member, along with Sarah Doherty, LGBT Center assistant director, will serve as the masters of ceremonies for this segment.

Speakers scheduled for the event include City Council President Chris Knisely, Commission Vice Chair Dianne Bouvier, Athens City Service-Safety Director Andy Stone, Jessica Thompson, a member of the Athens Uptown Business Association and co-owner of Brenen’s Coffee Café, and Commission Chair Davey McNelly.