General Studies 420: Disability & Society- Assignment #3 Community Accessibility Evaluation

General Studies 420: Disability & Society
Spring 2019

As we have discussed in class there are many ways to make our community more inclusive and accessible. Unfortunately, accessibility is often an afterthought in the engineering, design, and building process of community environments. This results in the exclusion of people with disabilities in life activities that non-disabled people take for granted. The hope with this assignment is to open your eyes to the ways that our community can be accessible and inaccessible for people with disabilities, and the ways that we can be proactive in ensuring that accessibility features are present within our communities.

Examples of places you can evaluate:

Places of worship
Public events
Public buildings
Public parks and walkways
Local businesses
Tourist areas
Travel destinations

Respond to each question in detail to determine how this location is accessible or inaccessible to people with disabilities. (Remember: Accessibility is not only for those with visible disabilities, but also invisible disabilities such as heart conditions, anxiety disorders, etc.). You must include the question and your thorough response in full sentences, 12-point font, double spaced, with 1” margins. You must submit your assignment on Blackboard in a Microsoft Word Format. Email submissions will not be accepted.

Note: Grammatical errors that interfere with comprehension while grading will result in point losses on assignments.
For this assignment you will respond to the following questions on the topic of accessibility in the community:
Name and location of the public place you are evaluating. Give a description of the location. (1 pt)
Is it accessible to some people with disabilities more than others? If so, which group of people is it more accessible to? And which group of people with disabilities is it not accessible to? Explain why you have come to this conclusion. (2 pts)
If you could make this location more accessible what would you change, include, remove, or alter? Explain how and why.  (2 pts)

What are some features/qualities in this location that make it accessible? What barriers exist in this location that make accessibility more challenging? Are the features/qualities and barriers man-made in the current moment? Or are they part of the initial design? Explain. (2 pts)
Pictures are not included in your 3-page count and must be placed on the fourth page of your paper. You must include 4 pictures on page 4. (2 pts)

At this point in the course, you will also need to be extra conscious of using person-first language and respectful language in general when referring to people with disabilities. You will have an automatic point deduction if you use non-person-first language or use non-dignifying terminology (i.e., confined to a wheelchair, differently-abled, etc.). Refer to to Respectful Language Guidelines on Blackboard for guidance.

Hint: Things to consider as you answer the above questions:
Can a person who uses a wheelchair access all of the same areas that a non-disabled individual can access?
Are accessible alternatives clearly and visibly marked?
Are elevators and lifts in working order wherever there are stairs?
Are ramps located and angled in such a way that it is not overly burdensome for someone who uses a wheelchair to maneuver to them and on them?
Are the accessible alternatives comparable in distance such that the person using a wheelchair does not need to go far out of their way to arrive at the destination?
Are signs readable in Braille for people who are blind?
Are audio cues available for people who are blind (such as crosswalks)?
Are sign interpretation and/or closed captioning available for any audio or video features?
Are there enough accessible parking spots and are they actually accessible? If they are not accessible, is it because someone is parked in them illegally? Has someone put shopping carts or scooters or other obstacles in the spots?
Are there enough accessible walkways, curb cuts, and other accessibility features? If they are not accessible, is it because someone has blocked them/created barriers? Or is it due to poor design?
Do accessibility features that benefit people with disabilities also benefit those who do not have disabilities? If so, how?

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Society & Business

Jamie Ramos looked out her window at the early morning sky and gazed the small crowd below. The words and pictures on their posters were pretty tame this time she thought. The last protest group used pictures of tarred lungs, corpses, and other graphic photos to show the effects of smoking on a person’s internal organs. Their words were also hateful, so much so that the employees at the Unified Tobacco headquarters were afraid to walk in and out of the main building. Those who normally took smoking breaks on the back patio decided to skip the break and eat something instead at the company subsidized cafeteria. By midday, Unified hired extra security to escort employees in and out of the building to ensure that protesters followed the state guideline of stating at least 15 ft from the company entrance. The media picked up on the story and the photos and it caused quite a stir in the national press. 
At least this protest group seemed fairly reasonable. Late yesterday, a state court provided a reduced judgement to the family of a lifelong smoker, now deceased. This meant that unified was going to owe millions less than originally expected. The length and stress of the lawsuit had taken its toll, especially on top management, although all employees were certainly learning of a huge settlement, and then continuing on with the appeals process, emotions were wearing thin with the continued criticism. 
Jamie wondered what this day would bring. As the manager of the community relations, her job was to represent Unified in the community, manage the employee volunteer program, create a quarterly newsletter, serve on various boards related to social welfare, and community needs. The company’s foundation donated nearly $1.5 million a year to charities and causes. Over one-quarter of its employees volunteered ten hours a month in their communities. 
Jamie reported to a vice-president and was pleased with the career progress she had made since graduating from college 8 years earlier. Although some of her friends wondered out loud how she could work for a tobacco company, Jamie was steadfast in her belief that even a tobacco firm could contribute something meaningful to society. She had the chance to affect some of those contributions In her community relations role. 
Jamie’s phone rang and she took a call from her vice-president. The BP indicated that, although the protestors seemed relatively calm this time, he was not comfortable with their presence. Several employees had taped signs in office windows telling the protestors to “Go Away”. Other VPs had dropped by his office to discuss the protest and thought that the responsibility for handling these issues fell to his group. He went on to say that he needed Jamie’s help, and that the assistance of a few others, in formulating a plan to (1) deal with protest today and (2) strengthen the strategy for communicating the company’s message and goodwill in the future. Their meeting would begin in one hour, so Jamie had some time to sketch out her recommendations on both issues. What would you do?
_______________________________
Jamie has been asked organize a meeting to discuss the protest, strengthen community relations, and ensure the company’s message is conveyed to the public. 
1. What specific advice would you offer Jamie as preparations are made for the meeting?
2.  What items would you include on the agenda?
3. Who would you invite to the meeting? Explain your answer stating why.
4. Discuss the media coverage and potential long-term implications of the coverage.

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