Thursday, November 17, 2022

Idaho Access Project: Making a Difference

Opening slides from four IAP presentations, clockwise from top left.
One Idaho For All: Best Practices in Local ADA Transition Planning; Count Us In! Inclusive Planning and Design for Community Health, Mobility and Safety; Access Means Business: Policies for Compliance, Community and Commerce; and Don't Miss the Boat! Expanding accessible travel experiences for all.

It's been a busy year for the Idaho Access Project! The IAP is a volunteer-driven, 501c3 nonprofit initiative to promote greater access and inclusion in all aspects of Idaho life. Founded by Dianna Willis, Jeremy Maxand, and Dana Gover in 2018, they were joined by Erik Kingston in 2020. Kingston and Gover were also original founders of Ramp Up Idaho, and the groups share some key goals:

  • Increase safety, independence, mobility and access for all Idahoans
  • Focus on building positive relationships and productive collaboration
  • Promote awareness of the universal benefits of access to all stakeholders
  • Show that #accessmeansbusiness and #accessmeansinclusion
In the past 12 months, IAP has been making change in a number of areas.

Community Access and Safety. IAP subcontracted with Vitruvian Planning on two municipal projects: Boise's 8th Street conversion to a patio and pedestrian zone between Bannock and Main, and the City of McCall's ADA Transition Plan. This fee-for-service income covers out-of-pocket and other hard costs for travel and outreach. Board members and volunteers also serve on Boise's Cross-Disability Task Force. IAP identified a safety concern in the bike ramps adjacent to roundabouts related to the lack of tactile surfaces to help pedestrians who are blind avoid walking into traffic; the local Highway District (ACHD) now plans to address the hazard.

Visitability Standards for Single-Family Housing. IAP members have long worked to raise awareness of the importance of residential development that reflects the basic features of Visitability. This includes one zero-step entrance; 32" clear doors and passageways on the main floor; and a main floor bathroom usable by someone in in a wheelchair. IAP's work highlights the many benefits of inclusive residential design and construction for individuals, taxpayers and community integrity. IAP members produced a Visitability podcast at the LINC Idaho studio, and two video interviews on the difference between planning ahead for access and modifying an existing inaccessible home (aka, 'Planning Behind"): Visitability by Design: Creating Community and Overcoming Design, Safety, and Financial Barriers

Conferences. IAP members presented at conferences for the Association of Idaho Cities the APA Idaho Chapter (both in Boise), and a keynote for the Idaho Conference on Recreation and Tourism (ICORT) in Twin Falls. They were also invited speakers for the November Boise Rotary Club, and addressed Idaho's Regional Economic Development Professionals December meeting.

Recreation. IAP Board members and volunteers worked successfully with the City of Boise and Ridge to Rivers to identify and address barriers to lower foothills trails. IAP members, family and friends planned and completed the Access Idaho Adventure tour of North Idaho to explore accessible and inclusive travel and recreation opportunities. They created a video of the trip and presented their findings to the Idaho Tourism group at Idaho Commerce, and the ICORT conference mentioned above. IAP facilitates the statewide ADA Recreation Committee via zoom, to connect with peers interested in adaptive outdoor recreation and travel.

Civic Life and Volunteerism. IAP was invited to partner for a second year with the WCA Boise on an accessible route and other features for their annual SueB 5F 10K fundraiser. The result was an Urban 5K Route that took into account safety and access for participants navigating the route with mobility- or sensory-related disabilities. This included text and audio descriptions of the route and multiple historic or cultural features along the way. IAP fielded the largest social team for the Urban 5K to support WCA and raise awareness of healthy relationships and domestic violence. Board President Dianna Willis also worked extensively with the Boise Art Museum on their efforts to create a more inclusive experience for visitors of all abilities, and IAP has had preliminary conversations with the cool folks at Treefort Fest to explore options to increase access and inclusion in programming and facilities. Stay tuned.

Fundraising. IAP participated in its first 2022 Avenues for Hope campaign running from December 12 to the 31st. results exceeded a goal of $5,000 thanks to community support and matching funds from campaign sponsors. This is in addition to receiving support from Idaho Tourism and the Disability Action Center NW to offset costs of the North Idaho event and video production. With no paid staff, all funds support costs of travel, outreach and education materials, and any accommodations needed for members and volunteers to engage in their work.

Tom McTevia Award. IAP was honored to receive the Tom McTevia Award in September for promoting accessible recreation and tourism. The award is given in memory of the former Navy Seabee and law enforcement officer who was paralyzed in an ATV accident and devoted his time to helping others living disability access the outdoors.


Shoshone News-Press Making Idaho More Accessible

Idaho Capital Sun / Idaho Press Tribune New nonprofit seeks to build relationships at all levels of government for an accessible Idaho

Opening Doors to Everyone

 The ADA provides excellent guidance and fact sheets on design and access requirements. Here's a short excerpt from their Fact Sheet on Doors.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Screen shot of a presentation title slide. Photos at the top of the screen show several people, including some using white canes, guide dogs, and wheelchairs. From left to right: 1. people on a downtown street talking; 2. a woman in a black shirt with a guide dog walking down a steep foothills trail; 3. a zero-step entry to a home and porch; 4. rear view of two people in manual wheelchairs traveling on a sidewalk behind a woman using a white cane.

Access Means Business for Idaho Cities!

Members of the Idaho Access Project and Ramp Up Idaho presented "Access Means Business: Policies for Compliance, Community and Commerce" at the June 23rd Association of Idaho Cities Conference in Boise. 
Three smiling people pose for a selfie in front of a presentation screen. In the foreground is a man in a blue shirt and red vest. Seated to his right in the backgrounds are a man in a grey jacket in a manual wheelchair, and a woman in a light-colored jacket in a powered wheelchair.

We had a great turnout and audience questions about legal requirements, inclusive community engagement, local ADA transition planning, and the social and economic implications of accessibility and inclusion for retail,
   commercial and recreation/tourism businesses.

Access means business in employment, housing and community mobility. Ramp Up Idaho Co-founders and IAP Board Members Erik Kingston, PCED and Dana Gover, MPA, ADAC, were joined by fellow IAP Board Member and LINCIdaho Executive Director Jeremy Maxand, MA, ADAC.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Idaho Access Project featured on 'Affordable Housing Matters' podcast

Image announcing the Idaho Access Project interview on Accessible Housing Matters, Interviewer Stephen Beard is pictured at right; on the left is the program title, with circular head shots of the three Idaho Access Project speakers

Members of the Idaho Access Project were recently interviewed by Stephen Beard, founder of Accessible Housing Matters. a podcast and website devoted to the importance of housing that's accessible to people of all abilities. Click the link below to listen to the interview!

Episode 20 - The Idaho Access Project – A New Approach to Building Accessible Communities

Be sure to listen to other interviews on this great podcast! 

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Idaho Access Project

The Idaho Access Project is making things happen in Idaho. 

This small nonprofit is has cultivated partnerships with local and state government, small businesses, transportation and land-use planners, recreation and outdoor advocates, and even working with Boise State University. The group's all-volunteer board is actively engaged in multiple committees, task forces and networks...all as part of its mission to "...eliminate physical, attitudinal, and policy barriers to ensure people with disabilities can live, work, and play in our neighborhoods and communities."

The group recently presented a session called 'Count Us In: Planning and Design for Community Health, Mobility and Safety' for the 2021 Rocky Mountain Land-Use Institute.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

ADA 30 Idaho Interview Series- Ashley Olson

This week we visited with Ashley Lyn Olson, founder of Ashley shares her lifelong passion for outdoor travel and adventure with Erik Kingston (Idaho Access Project/RampUpIdaho) and Interpreter Lauren Seale (Idaho Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing).

Ashley has traveled the world for two decades, and her site features practical tips and resources organized by destination, interests, accommodations or transportation options. It’s clear that Ashley focuses on the experiences and people she encounters, from getting stuck in the middle of nowhere to being amazed by the natural beauty, access and hospitality of locals on a recent visit to New Zealand. We’ve included some of the links and resources discussed below. Enjoy!

#ADA30Idaho #WhatTheADAMeansToMe #AccessYourWorld | | | | | | |

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Inclusive Planning and Design: A Dollars and Sense Issue

A common mistake in public and private infrastructure development is what I call 'planning behind.' That is, fixing mistakes made by not anticipating the needs or consequences involving a project or design in the planning stages. One common mistake involves building or permitting single-family homes that aren't visitable by potential tenants (or neighbors) that use wheelchairs. Adding a ramp to an existing home can costs thousands of dollars and rarely looks good, while designing a home with one zero-step entrance and an accessible bathroom on the ground floor can cost no more than an inaccessible design.

Planning behind is always more expensive and less satisfying than planning ahead with the right people at the table; this includes end users of all abilities, neighbors and anyone impacted by the project. Not every user moves through the natural and built environment the same way, so it pays to have a cross-section of residents and users sharing their perspectives up front.

Example: This bike offramp is intended to keep cyclists out of roundabout traffic. It routes bikes from the roadway to the sidewalk; once they use the crosswalk there’s an on-ramp to move them back to the road.


For a pedestrian who is blind or low-vision and uses a cane, the design is a problem. This pedestrian ‘tracks right,’ using her cane to follow the right edge of the walkway to stay on track. The slight angle of the ramp seems normal at first, and the lack of any tactile change at the roadway means she is well into the oncoming traffic lane and into the raised lane divider before she realizes something is wrong. For this roundabout design there are four such ramps. The day we visited the Warm Springs corridor, we noticed several inattentive drivers on cellphones; at an intersection to the west of this location, several cars flew right through the flashing pedestrian signal. With a silent electric vehicle, there is no warning that a collision is imminent. It’s critical for planners and designers to include a variety of users with different perspectives to review and contribute to designs affecting connectivity, visit ability and safety. We should note that several people were watching traffic to ensure her safety. Her goal was simply to follow the sidewalk heading west as she would normally navigate with a cane. More videos from this Barber Valley Access Audit to follow. The full video is part of a larger project of the Idaho Access Project.