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Sunday, July 12, 2020

THIS BLOG ABOUT DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION HAS 245,000 READERS

THANKS TO THE NEARLY QUARTER OF A MILLION UNIQUE VISITORS
The name of the blog is Urban Travel, Sustainability and Accessibility.
Certainly, its 2,700 published posts have covered urban design, world travel, resiliency strategies and the fight for more universal design and inclusive mobility for people with disabilities.
But the title could just as easily be: 100+ words of daily thoughts on inclusion and diversity.
In our world, people of all colors and physical abilities are at the center of the table.
We believe the best art, science and community is created by diverse representation of backgrounds, belief systems and faiths (and/or the right to practice no organized religion.)
We travel the globe to learn more about the people who walk it.
The images here are from Alexandria, Egypt.



Saturday, July 11, 2020

A SQUEAKY WHEEL GUIDE 6

TO LOCAL ADVOCACY
Tamley strongly encourages interested advocates to find time to attend public hearings and town halls. 

Be persistent, but polite.

Build up a rapport.

“I’m amazed at how many people don’t show up to a city budget meeting or a transit authority board meeting,” she says.

“You have a captive audience and you have all the staff that can resolve your problem or support your policy initiative right there — be a part of it.”

If you want to take your involvement to the next level, getting on a board or committee can lead to even more dramatic results. 

The more active you become with local government, the more influence you will have over creating positive change.

Friday, July 10, 2020

A SQUEAKY WHEEL GUIDE 5

TO LOCAL ADVOCACY
Once you’ve done your basic research, it’s time to hit the ground rolling: meet your representatives, get on committees, get involved. 

Tamley says nothing beats connecting personally with the elected representative for your part of the city. 

“They know your neighborhood, so they know who to contact,” she says. 

“We work with aldermen all the time — their staff contacts the proper city office and works to solve a problem that their constituent is having.”

Call your representative or councilperson’s office and make an appointment. 

Don’t be surprised if after a brief meet-and-greet with the elected official, you are handed off to a staff member. 

This is not a bad thing. 

That staffer is the one who will contact city employees on your behalf. 

Also, they know what part of the city budget can be used to fix your problem or fund your initiative.

Constituent services is their job — they will keep the pressure on the city manager or department head to ensure your issue progresses toward resolution.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

A SQUEAKY WHEEL GUIDE 4

TO LOCAL ADVOCACY
Although Karen Tamley is now the president and CEO of Access Living, until recently she was the commissioner of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities in Chicago. 

She says it pays to know how to interface with your local government.

“Know what’s available to you. Many cities have 311, a line you can call to state your issue.

You get a case number so you can track it,’’ says Tamley, a wheelchair user. Many cities have a smart phone app that you can use to capture your issue in pictures and send it in to be addressed.

It’s easy to document things with a camera phone.

Take a picture and caption it to precisely explain the issue you are addressing. 

This will help city inspectors and repair workers to pinpoint the location and impress elected and appointed officials that you meet with.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A SQUEAKY WHEEL GUIDE 3

TO LOCAL ADVOCACY
“Unlike any other civil rights laws, the ADA not only requires that an entity not treat people differently because of their disability,” says Matthew W. Dietz. 

“It also requires these entities to affirmatively modify their premises or policies and procedures to ensure that the person with a disability has an equal opportunity to get the same benefit as a nondisabled person.” 

Dietz is a founding member and litigation director of Disability Independence Group, a Miami-based nonprofit that promotes recruitment, education and employment of people with disabilities.

“When a complaint or request for accommodation is received, then it will go to a person who hopefully has knowledge of the ADA,” says Dietz.

 “If the person with a disability disagrees with the finding, then they will have a procedure to go through.”

An Interview with Andy Imparato, DRC’s new Executive Director by Debra Ruh



#ADA30 #ThanksToTheADA #BecauseOfTheADA #WeMatter #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs #Equity #Equality #CripTheVote #DisabilityPrideMonth #disabledNews

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A SQUEAKY WHEEL GUIDE 2

TO LOCAL ADVOCACY
Knowledge is power, and it’s easier than ever to power up. 

Most local governments have a place on their websites where you can type in your address and find out who represents you. 

While visiting your municipality’s website, check out how the city is organized — is it run by a strong mayor or a city manager? 

Who are the key department heads?

A municipal government’s transition and barrier removal plans spell out its goals for accessibility.
These documents are public record — meaning you have a right to see and review them. 

When the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted, the Department of Justice required public entities that employ more than 50 people to have an ADA coordinator, an ADA policy and a grievance policy. 

While too few cities have full-time coordinators plus appropriate staff, most at least identify an employee acting in that capacity.

Monday, July 6, 2020

A SQUEAKY WHEEL GUIDE 1

TO LOCAL ADVOCACY
“You can’t fight City Hall” is one of the oldest sayings around, often based on a boulevard of broken things such as long-neglected potholes in crosswalks, uprooted sidewalks and other barriers to wheelchair mobility.

Local government might seem like an impenetrable maze, but you don’t have to fight City Hall. 

You can work in a collaborative, non-combative way to get local officials on your side. 

Call this the Squeaky Wheel Guide — a roadmap to getting your city to remove barriers and promote progressive legislation for people with disabilities.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

HARD TO CELEBRATE INDEPENDENCE DAY

WHEN BIGOTRY, RACISM AND ABLEISM ARE RUINING AND ENDING
THE LIVES OF PEOPLE OF COLOR AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
I think I live in the wrong world.

I don’t feel like American lives up to all the fireworks, bunting and revelry meant to celebrate good things symbolized by Independence Day.

Anger, hate, bullying, bigotry -- seems like at least half the "leaders" who impact my daily life trade in it.Some veiled, most not so much. It takes a lot out of me.

It physically sickens me when someone is made to feel 2nd (is there a 10th?) class...simply for being a person of color, a person with a disability.

I question if I will live long enough to truly live in an America that values equity and true equal opportunity.

When traveling, to say I'm from the USA brings the sting of shame from living in nation where the a president who fans the flames of white supremacy daily and never apologized for mocking a person's disability on TV.

Though we are a democracy, the U.S. has never truly had a level playing field for all.

Even in our best decades, this nation has not been truly inclusive.

In my first four decades, I at least embraced the hope that each generation was standing on the shoulders of the previous -- trying to make things better, trying to create fair play.

Now, the past several, I feel like the racists, the bigots, the bullies, the outright murders and destroyers -- have kicked the good efforts out from under us.

In terms of an America that embraces diversity and has a place at the table for all -- how many decades will it take to rebuild?

How much blood, how many tears must be shed till we are where we need to be...when we weren't even close to being where we should be BEFORE this regression into hate, racism, ableism?

Friday, July 3, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 15

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
“I believe most people will still want to walk through what may be their largest purchase of their lives. These tools will not replace the knowledge and expertise that a REALTOR can provide in a transaction,” Gerrish said.

“We assist a lot of first-time home buyers and many have had their jobs affected.  

They are coming to us for guidance about how the Cares Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, that allocate $2.2 trillion in federal support to individuals and businesses affected by the pandemic and economic downturn) can help them,” Gerrish said, noting that REALTORS – in good times and challenging ones -- help people find, afford, and protect their homes. 

“This is not the right time for everyone to buy or sell -- but if it is, we are trying to equip our agents with tech tools to be safe but also effective in this climate.”

Thursday, July 2, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 14

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
“Although real estate was deemed an essential service in Bexar County, it has not been business as usual. We have chosen to close our office for the safety and health of our employees and agents and work 100 percent remotely,” she said.

“As expected, we are leveraging technology heavily.  We are communicating with our agents via Facebook group to share tips/resources, motivational posts and giving updates on the almost daily changes in our market/industry and hosting office meetings via Zoom.”

Gerrish said tech will be an increasingly crucial tool in the industry, but she does not think they will be the be-all, end-all in residential real estate.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 13

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
Regarding remote closings, we remain in continued communication with organizations representing real estate attorneys, financial institutions and title insurers to ensure that closings can continue across the state,” NCR’s Palmer added.

“This has included recommending clarifications to local orders to require that Register of Deeds offices remain open in some fashion, as well as any additional allowances for closings to be completed in a timely fashion.”

Sara Briseno Gerrish is broker-owner of a family-operated, boutique ReMax real estate office in San Antonio. She assists buyers, sellers and tenants, as well as managing the agents in her office.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 12

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
NC REALTORS, the statewide association in North Carolina, has an online platform that supports “Selling Homes from Home.” 

The resources, gathered from numerous sources including the National Association of REALTORS, discusses topics such as virtual showings and how to host virtual meetings. 

“Throughout the state, real estate has been both designated as and as not an essential business activity through local governments’ stay-at-home orders. This has resulted in a significant amount of disparity in how REALTORS are able to conduct business in different areas of North Carolina,” said Seth Palmer NCR’s Director of Regulatory Affairs and External Communications.

“In support of those who are able to conduct business in their area, we have created a Best Practices guide for members with important information about how to conduct any activities in compliance with health and safety guidelines.”  

Monday, June 29, 2020

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

THROUGH THE EYES OF THE WORLD


In a time of dread, fear, brutality and oppression -- in these United States of America -- an image of hope. 

Four wonderful, joyful young people in Egypt.

I took this in the back streets of one of Cairo's poorest neighborhoods.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Perils For Pedestrians 138: The ADA and Sidewalks



Perils For Pedestrians 138: The ADA and Sidewalks https://youtu.be/ksqfGz6Y0v0 via @YouTube
#CripTheVote
#ADA30
#ThankstotheADA
#BecauseOfTheADA
#disabledlivesmatter
#nothingaboutuswithoutus
#wematter
#socialjustice
#Socialequity
#universaldesign
#inclusion

THE LANDMARK 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT IS LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY

EVERY MAJOR NEWSPAPER AND BROADCAST NEWS OUTLET IN AMERICA
BETTER BE PREPARING A HUGE AMOUNT OF COVERAGE OF THIS MAJOR EVENT
The Americans with Disabilities Act turns 30 on July 26 and every form of media in America should be preparing in-depth stories about the landmark legislation for publication on the anniversary date.

As people protest injustice and inequity in countless cities in America, people with disabilities must also be brought into the discussion and brought to the table.

The ADA and its impact, against the backdrop of a pandemic, is an incredibly timely story.

Countless people of all ages have died of COVID in nursing homes and similar facilities. 

There is no arguing that this is wrong, as every city in the U.S. has experienced a horror story of death, injury, abuse and worse in nursing homes.

And that was before Coronavirus and the obscenely high percentage of deaths due to unsanitary and unsafe conditions created by nursing homes that prize profit over human life. 

The virus has underscored the fatal consequences of enriching the nursing home profiteers vs. spending on personal care attendants and other ways of keeping disabled and elderly people in their own homes.

I hope, for the sake of diversity, fair play and shining a light on darkness – that all news executives have already assigned major series marking the landmark ADA’s 30th anniversary.

If not, they are shirking the most sacred duty of the fourth estate: to give a voice to all.




Saturday, June 27, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 10

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
Doerlich said the channels are now virtual versus in-person but it still is vital for him as a broker to keep in contact to encourage and mentor agents for continued engagement and returning to full productivity.

“On-line messaging and social media access were `nice-to-haves’ – now it’s essential to maintain continuity, communication and camaraderie among the agents and staff,” he said.

“We have started a weekly web conference with all the agents in our offices. It keeps the team in synch and is encouraging to hear the activity of our agents. 

We can also answer questions about new protocols and maintain the enthusiasm in a difficult market time,” Doerlich added.

Friday, June 26, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 9

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
Will Doerlich is Broker/CEO of Pleasanton CA-based Realty One Group in the eastern San Francisco Bay Tri-Valley area.

“As REALTORS, we need to support the efforts to contain and maintain the health of our communities – the economic as well as the physical and mental health of our communities. Each of these are intertwined together,” he said.

“And right now, a healthy community will be a strong economic community sooner when the market is fully opened and available to our clients.”

Thursday, June 25, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 8

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID

“What’s about to happen to Houston real estate reminds me of Hurricane Harvey in that we are bracing for impact, but don’t yet know what the full extent on the market will be,” said HAR Chairman John Nugent with RE/MAX Space Center. 

“There are consumers out there for whom finding a home is critical, however, HAR has urged all Realtor members to conduct as much business as possible online, using technology such as virtual open houses, virtual tours and electronic signature documents, in the interest of protecting everyone’s health.”

On March 20, all in-person open houses were removed from HAR.com out of an abundance of caution. 

The website introduced a virtual tour feature allowing REALTORS to host and post virtual open houses and conduct virtual showings. 

Consumers can watch them live on HAR.com at scheduled times and REALTORS can then share the recordings on their own websites and social media platforms.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 7

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
The Houston Association of REALTORS (HAR) has member coronavirus FAQs on its website and has published columns that address business in the pandemic era. 

With more consumers home-bound, there has been a surge in traffic to its award-winning HAR.com website.

HAR is waiving Q3 MLS fees for both residential and commercial subscribers, which represents a savings of more than $5 million.

It’s an innovative strategy that proves REALTORS are committed to rebuilding the nation’s economy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 6

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
Rosshirt said prolonged work from home will show the weakness or benefits of current living arrangements.

“Flex space may be less desirable than a dedicated work area. Internet reliability, capacity and speed will be critical for some jobs. Areas with Google fiber may earn a premium,” he observed.

If two people are working at home, a shared work space may not be practical,” Rosshirt added.

“One couple I just closed with on a new house have been both forced to work at home. Her counseling work is transferring to the internet well enough, but she must maintain privacy in her work.

His work is high tech and he has been capable or working at home for a long time but now it is full-time and it can be loud (gaming). So, the floor plan they chose provided two workspaces very separate from the other.”

Monday, June 22, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 5

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID

Ohio REALTORS has created a coronavirus resources page on its website, providing members with important links and top headlines from lawmakers, agencies and related groups in Ohio and across the nation.

Its best practices include conducting virtual meetings with its local boards and associations, as well as with elected Realtor leadership -- since the onset of the pandemic.

Rosshirt said with so many people working remotely, there likely will be a permanent change to facilitating virtual work in home design.

“A company may realize they do not need expensive real estate if their employees can be effective remotely,” he said.

Developers are already moving to multi-use plans where the office component is matched with nearby appropriate living and retail/entertainment.”

Sunday, June 21, 2020

HOW CAN SITES IN ANCIENT EGYPT

PROVIDE BETTER WHEELCHAIR ACCESS THAN
21ST CENTURY DESIGN IN THE U.S.?
The image is of the walkway leading to the ancient step pyramid in Saqqara, south of Cairo.

Barrier-free, wide, smooth causeway over the sand to the ancient Pyramid of Djoser. 

The site has far superior wheelchair access -- in ancient Egypt -- than the broken, narrow, viciously-sloping sidewalks that torture people with disabilities in most U.S. cities. 

Shame on designers in the U.S. for continuing to create barriers and brand-new construction.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 4

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
Ohio was one of the first states to adopt remote notarization three years ago.

The legislation requires notaries to obtain a separate certification, but the opportunity to process documents and finalize deals exists. 

Closings in the Buckeye State are now occurring with only one party present to ensure social distancing compliance.

“Ohio’s Realtor community has dramatically changed its individual and collective business practices – using proper social distancing protocols, tapping into technology to conduct virtual showings and remote meetings with customers,” said Chief Executive Officer Scott Williams. 

“Throughout, we’ve stressed to our membership that, while Ohio deemed real estate as an essential service, this is not a time for business as usual. It’s imperative that the industry make necessary adjustments to find the proper balance of serving our clients while also protecting society’s greater good.”

Friday, June 19, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 3

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
Rosshirt sees the pandemic focusing some homebuyers on high-performance, healthier homes – noting a house with a tighter seal and better air exchange and filters may now be well worth the expense.

These are features of High-Performance homes that may be called Energy Efficient or Green by some builder.  

As homeowners respond to difficult times, their house serves as the: office/boardroom, classroom, coffee shop, movie theater, gym and safe sanctuary to shelter in place.
Ohio REALTORS, a statewide association, is conducting weekly surveys to track the market’s condition in an effort to provide insight to members. 

Equally important, Ohio REALTORS are sharing the data with Governor Mike DeWine’s administration (lauded for quick action to stop Corona spread), the Economic Recovery Task Force of the Ohio House and other key policy makers to be influential partners in identifying initiatives to stabilize the real estate sector during the pandemic.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

REALTORS EXPAND USE OF TECHNOLOGY -- PART 2

CONTINUE CUSTOMIZED CLIENT SERVICE IN THE TIME OF COVID
John Rosshirt, Associate Broker/Co-Owner of Stanberry REALTORS in Austin Texas, said more visuals are being added to many listings. He said agents are using high and low tech to add video.

“Some agents are just walking through their listing with a simple wordless video on their smart phone to have something extra to upload,” he said of low-tech solutions. “Photographers are adding 3D technology to their offerings to agents. 

Agents are using Zoom to stay in touch with their clients.

“I have set up special lighting and rearranged what is behind me so I make a professional impression. People who are isolated love this contact and I find they like to talk,” he said, reminding REALTORS that the personal touch is needed – even if it is virtual.

“Calls do seem to take longer because people have a need to talk about the new challenges in their life as well as the new challenges in achieving their real estate goals.”