Disabled residents as well as visitors to New Orleans, can learn more about which restaurants, bars and businesses are easily accessible with a new website launched recently.

The Access Louisiana website provides information on over 300 locations in New Orleans and the surrounding area. The website is being administered by the Advocacy Centre of Louisiana, a non-profitorganisation assisting the disabled and senior citizens, living in and visiting the area. They put together the detail contained within the site based on information gathered on accessible local venues when it ran a consultation in the lead up to Super Bowl.

"We had all this information, and we wanted to find a way to make it available not just for tourists but for the people who live in New Orleans," said Pamela Fisher, Advocacy Centre Development Director. "There's a new restaurant opening every day, and people are looking for information on whether they can access these businesses."

The launch of Access Louisiana coincided with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) twenty fifth anniversary celebration. A national law enacted in the United States that put into place sweeping requirements for providing access to the disabled population.Public and private buildings, educational facilities and workplaces amongst other areas are all covered by the federal law.

Whilst not all businesses listed on the website meet the strict compliancy of the ADA, the website maintains criteria in order for a business to be listed. The criteria (identified below) appeal only to those with mobility difficulties and are not encompassing of other disabilities.

  1. Can a disabled person get inside the business?
  2. Can they move around and sit comfortably?
  3. Are the restrooms also accessible?

The website allows users to identify and add businesses they find to be accessible. “Teams from the all-volunteer Friends of the Advocacy Centre will follow up to verify their status”, Fisher said, and offer guidance where needed. “For example, a restaurant might have a bathroom stall for the disabled, but it turns out the door opens into the stall instead of out of it," adding. "Hopefully, we can help correct things like this."

Unfortunately, there are only a few entries from Baton Rouge and Lafayette, currently available on the website. However, Fisher said, but that number is expected to increase as users input more locations and Advocacy Centre offices in those cities promote the website.

The website information is available on the Internet at http://app.access-louisiana.org/Home.html

Michael Holden

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