Top 20 Cities for Wheelchair Users

Technology has come a long way and there are lots of things that people with disabilities can do to make their lives easier and make themselves more comfortable, from buying the newest wheelchair accessories to getting the most advanced wheelchair. But on top of all that, the city in which disabled people reside can make a huge difference in their daily lives.

Last year, the Reeve Foundation released its list of 20 Top cities for those in wheelchairs. The report essentially found that there are 20 cities that do a pretty good job of welcoming disabled people and that every city across the country still has lots of work to do.
These cities are raising the bar for other cities, which is a good thing. However, they still have a long way to go.

The list ranks the largest 100 cities based on their climate; air quality; number of physicians, rehabilitation specialists and centers; recreation centers and public transportation equipped for the disabled; the number of people with disabilities in each city, the level of employment for disabled individuals; evaluation of infrastructure to accomodate the disabled; and each city’s spending and eligibility requirements with regard to Medicaid.

The top 20 most livable U.S. cities for wheelchair users are:

  1. Seattle, Wash.
  2. Albuquerque, N.M.
  3. Reno, Nev.
  4. Denver, Colo.
  5. Portland, Ore.
  6. Chicago, Ill.
  7. Birmingham, Ala.
  8. Winston-Salem, N.C.
  9. Orlando, Fla.
  10. Lubbock, Texas
  11. Miami, Fla.
  12. Tampa, Fla.
  13. Durham, N.C.
  14. Fort Worth, Texas
  15. Virginia Beach, Va.
  16. Arlington, Texas
  17. Baltimore, Md.
  18. New Orleans, La.
  19. Arlington, Va.
  20. Atlanta, Ga.


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If you don’t live in one of these cities, there are many things you can do to make your own city more livable for those who use wheelchairs. You can join a local advocacy group that speaks to local, state, and national officials on behalf of people who are disabled to get more accessible houses, buildings, and transportation. What is most annoying, is that even if a structure or vehicle is listed as accessible for the disabled, that doesn’t mean it’s true. There are countless stories of lifts on buses being out-of-order, and the same with elevators on commuter trains. There are even reports of buses passing by when it’s only a person in a wheelchair at the bus stop.

Another idea is to volunteer your time with organizations that help disabled people get around or make it easier for them to access the things they need.

Another great way to get involved is to help build new and more accessible houses or at least pinpoint existing ones for local residents. In order to find out if a house is truly accessible, you should ask questions like how wide are the doorways or is the bathroom on the first floor.

When it comes to ADA compliance, there really isn’t an organized method for determining whether a structure meets the standards. It is really up to us to police compliance and report those that don’t meet the standard.

+Nancy Goebel writes about living and entertainment. One area where she applies herself is access for people with disabilities, specifically those restricted to wheelchairs.

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