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.