Mary Margaret Moore
For Mary Margaret Moore, executive Director of the Independent Living Center of the North Shore and Cape Ann, the All People Accessible Business project (APAB), which her organization has developed, is yet another way to demonstrate her determination to ensure that people with disabilities have access to everything they want.

"I am still pushing for our civil rights to participate fully in life," she said

Recovery Act Impact: Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission

  • Vocational Rehabilitation Services: $6 million

  • Independent Living Services : $234K

  • Centers for Independent Living: $1.8 million

The APAB's goal is simple yet powerful: to make local businesses more accessible to people with disabilities. The project involves volunteers conducting accessibility surveys on area businesses - shops, restaurants, places of work - and recommending ways to improve that accessibility. Businesses that achieve at least 90 percent accessibility based on the APAB's standards receive a decal to put in their front windows.

Congressman John Tierney at ILCNSCA

The project was developed with a stimulus grant of $112K that came to the Center through the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, which received $1.8 million in stimulus grants for its 11 Independent Living Centers across the state. The Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission also received $6 million in stimulus funds for vocational rehabilitation services and $243,000 for independent living services.

"What could be better for people in this area than to have a group of people shopping and eating out?" said MRC Commissioner Charles Carr, referring to the APAB. "This project is stimulating the economy in this area by going to businesses and saying we have low cost things you can do to be accessible and we'll help you do it. This is an innovative, creative way to use ARRA money to stimulate the economy in this area."

The APAB event

Congressman John Tierney agreed. "The disability community is a huge part of our economic base," he said. "We're neighbors, friends and family - the moral thing is to make sure everyone has access. We want to eat with them, shop with them, and go to performances with them. This is a great project."

According to Moore, without the stimulus funds, the program would have taken years to get off the ground. The funds enabled the Center to develop the project's website and hire an employee to implement it.

"We are showing how a little bit of money can have a positive impact on the community," she said.