Team secretly judging restaurants on handicap accessibility


SPRINGFIELD, Mo- A group of those with disabilities are putting restaurants in the Ozarks to the test when it comes to accessibility.

The organization Empower: Abilities, came up with a new program that works as a list to see if area restaurants meet the criteria. The project is called Restaurant Access Points (RAP).

Allison Robertson, Program Director at Empower: Abilities says the idea came about after someone brought up concerns about places advertising as handicap accessible but were not.

“We created a survey that measures on five different points if a place is accessible and if people can get around,” says Robertson.

Those five points are:

  • Parking Lot
  • Entrance
  • Inside Building/ Tables
  • Restroom
  • Customer Service

Jan White has been using a wheelchair for about 25 years. She had polio as a child in the 1950s and now battles with post-polio syndrome. Because of that, she is losing mobility and has to use a wheelchair.

For Jan, helping restaurants better their accessibility makes her feel important.

“Makes you feel like all of your hard work is important. We constantly work with businesses and restaurants and bring up things. Some of them correct them right away. It makes it feel wonderful that you’re being heard,” says Jan.

One of the six out of the nearly 20 restaurants surveyed, First Watch on National and Battlefield, says they are happy to have passed, knowing that customers feel comfortable there.

“I think it’s a really awesome program. It’s really cool to be a part of a restaurant that takes pride in that and be able to accommodate them,” says Robert Pare, General Manager at First Watch.

One of the New Year resolutions for Empower: Abilities, is to survey 200 restaurants in the area.

But the organization will need help to reach that goal, and for that, they are asking those interested in helping attend training.

There will be two training sessions on January 10th, one at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Empower: Abilities. You can find more information about the organization here.

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