“The guide is a start, but we need a whole lot more help,” Perry said.
Laurie Paolicelli, executive director of the visitors bureau, said the guide will provide a resource for visitors and residents who need a little more help to get around.
“Our vision was based on the growing number of people with disabilities and baby boomers who require additional help in touring our towns and all towns,” she said.
Paolicelli commissioned Schwartz to produce the guide last summer, and Schwartz involved Perry.
“I based the guide off my experience with Ellen and observing her struggles,” Schwartz said. “The more information I collected, the more I realized it needed to mirror the original guide,” Schwartz said.
Using the original visitor’s guide as a template, Schwartz made the necessary adjustments, such as using larger font, to cater to the needs of people with disabilities.
A key was created to evaluate the accessibility of the locations outlined in the parking maps used in the generic visitors guide.
Along the same vein, the guide also assesses the accessibility of the restroom facilities of the locations.
“There are four different ratings for restrooms, ranging from ‘being able to act unassisted’ or ‘needing help opening the weighted door,’” Schwartz said.
Schwartz said the guide’s information helps those with disabilities have as much independence as possible.
“You can hope that someone passing by will help you, but people with disabilities strive for that independence,” she said.
“Someone setting out on their own is a brave person already — having this knowledge in an unfamiliar situation is comforting.”
The guide also outlines the accessibility of the area’s hotels, pinpoints venues with automatic doors and provides details for conducting a self-guided tour of the county.
To create the guide, Schwartz and Perry conducted site visits to measure the accessibility of each location.
While surveying the locations, business owners were shown simple modifications that could be made to accommodate residents with varying physical capabilities, Paolicelli said.
“Until we experience diminished capacity ourselves, it’s very hard to have that perspective, so it was heartening to find open-minded business owners and managers,” she said.