Workshop deals with accessible parking
by Krystal Paco
Guam - From architects to engineers to contractors and safety officers, close to 100 participated in today's technical workshop on accessible parking and beyond the accessible route.
A member of the U.S. Access Board is on island this week to help public and privately owned businesses come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Standards of 2010.
Department of Integrated Services for Individuals with Disabilities director Ben Servino says Paul Beatty is an accessibility expert from the U.S. Access Board in Washington, DC.
"We toured the island yesterday. We tried to tour the island. It was raining really hard. We managed to stop at several locations. And look at some of the challenges that building owners have with their accessible parking and not necessarily in compliance and identified ways that they could mitigate some of those challenges at a reasonable cost so it's not very expensive," he said.
And what did they see on their drive around the island?
Servino says many businesses were culprit to a lack of signage. If signage was posted, they were faded or posted too low. For others, lines for accessible access failed to meet dimension requirements while some slopes were too steep.
Servino suspects this is because of drainage issues, but says it only makes it more difficult for someone in a wheelchair. "They forget that people with disabilities when they get out of their vehicle when they get off their wheelchair, it pulls them against that grain. So it becomes very challenging for people with disabilities," he said.
But it's no easy task to bring all businesses in compliance.
"There aren't really any enforcement efforts locally because even DISID doesn't have the authority to enforce the accessible parking law. We can provide technical assistance like providing this training so people can comply because the ADA is a civil rights law, it's not a building code law," he said.
Overall, Servino says there's plenty of incentives to make your building or business accessible for all.
"A lot of building owners don't realize that to do these interventions there are also tax credits and tax incentives, deductions that they could utilize to offset those costs," he said.
Ultimately, trainings like today are steps in the right direction.
"If we wanna make Guam the number one tourist destination if you have all the accessibly features, the economy will build up we'll have more visitors come to our island and our people can benefit along with them," he said.
A repeat training is set for Wednesday at the Guam Marriott Resort and Spa. For more information, call DISID at 475-4646.