Mobility Accessibility on the North Shore

Active Living
Health Equity Minute

May 10, 2024

The North Shore offers abundant exploration opportunities, now more accessible thanks to recent additions. Features like way side rests with waterfall access, accessible restrooms, and a track chair at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park enhance experiences for people of all ages and abilities. Despite progress, obstacles persist for the 24% of the population identifying as disabled, who spend $58.2 billion annually in the U.S. on mobility-related needs. And those numbers are likely to rise as baby boomers begin to enter disability community and longer life expectancies continue.

While there are improvements to celebrate, there are still many barriers a person who is mobility disabled might face. Travel is one area that is packed with obstacles, including inaccessible air travel, lodging, restrooms, and parking. Preparing for travel as a disabled person takes more than 4 times the amount of time as their non-disabled peers, due to outdated information, lack of staff training, and inaccurate promotional materials.

Everyone should have access to explore our beautiful shore. Some of the barriers locally are lack of promotion of the accessible offerings we currently have. The best thing to do is promote through pictures and videos of what spaces have to offer and let the disabled traveler decide for themselves what can work for them. Every body is different. Nothing is 100% accessible, as we all have different needs. Other barriers are lack of funding for current spaces to become accessible, aged infrastructure, and lack of input from people in the disability community. The Americans with Disabilities Act was passed in 1990. 34 years later, we need to be farther along in having equitable access for everyone to live, play, visit, and thrive. Let’s keep working together to make the North Shore inviting, welcoming, and accessible for all walks and wheels of life.

By Jenna Udenberg; disability activist, accessibility educator, and founder of Above & Beyond With U

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