Jeffrey L. Dougan, Assistant Director
Since the creation of the Community Access Monitor Project in 1985, approximately 12,000 people have been trained by the Massachusetts Office on Disability to survey buildings for accessibility and to advocate for compliance. Over 2,000 people have been certified as Community Access Monitors.
Initially, the Community Access Monitor Project emphasized the enforcement of the Architectural Access Board's Rules and Regulations. Now, with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act in effect, requirements for access have broadened to include communication and programmatic as well as architectural accessibility. As the scope of accessibility legislation has broadened, so has the role of the Community Access Monitor.
The workbook provided at these trainings contains information on access legislation and provides a step-by-step process for conducting assessments and encouraging voluntary compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Architectural Access Board Rules and Regulations.
Architectural, communication, programmatic, and policy barriers prevent people from participating fully in society. People with disabilities cannot assume they can use common public places, such as stores, banks, offices, and restaurants, or participate in ordinary activities, such as working, getting an education, visiting friends, and attending community events. Most non-disabled people take these freedoms for granted.
Accessibility means much more than ramps for wheelchair access. People with all types of physical, sensory, cognitive and other disabilities must be ensured equal access to facilities, services, and programs. People with disabilities must not be discriminated against through structural barriers, unequal policies and practices, or inaccessible means of communication and dissemination of information
The Role of the Community Access Monitor
Community Access Monitors play an essential role in encouraging access improvements. While they do not have legal enforcement authority, monitors have proven to be highly effective advocates. Monitors are a full partner in the implementation process by coordinating advocacy efforts with municipal disability commissions, Independent Living Centers, ADA Coordinators, building inspectors, and others.
Being a Community Access Monitor requires knowledge of access laws and regulations, understanding of the range of organizations that have responsibilities under both state and federal regulations, skill in surveying and advocacy, and the ability to be persuasive and persistent. Through this training program, you will gain the knowledge and skills you need to become an effective accessibility advocate.
Accessibility in Massachusetts is mandated by complex and far-reaching state and federal laws, whose enforcement depends upon the active involvement of the disability community. Get involved; every individual makes a difference. The law is behind you. Through your efforts, and the collective effort of the Community Access Monitor Program of MOD and the whole advocacy movement, you will help bring about change.
There are Community Access Monitor Trainings being held throughout the Commonwealth. If there are questions, or you are interested in attending an upcoming training, please feel free to contact Jeffrey Dougan at (800) 322-2020 extension 27316 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please Note: The Massachusetts Architectural Access Board is in the process of revising its Rules and Regulations to achieve substantial equivalency with the Americans with Disability Act Architectural Standards. Please contact the Massachusetts Office on Disability for further information.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the New England ADA Center.