By Marybeth Barker

The Town of Concord’s Committee on Disability will be one year old in December 2015. One of the committee’s most important goals in our first year was to make ourselves known to residents and to other town officials whose charges directly impact and overlap with our own. In pursuit of our mission, which is to promote the inclusion and integration of persons with all types of disabilities in the community, we have had the opportunity to work on a variety of issues and to collaborate with many different town officials and local organizations.

Our activities over the 11 months have included advocating for an accessible boarding platform for the MBTA commuter rail in Concord Center, researching technologies to make town meetings more accessible to residents who are deaf or hard of hearing. We were pleased to support grant applications for development efforts under way at the Ripley Playscape, an inclusive play and nature based recreational space for all ages. In addition, as a result of having been contacted by several concerned residents, we advocated for and assisted in reviewing the athletic fields at Concord Carlisle High School to make sure there is an accessible entrance to the fields during all phases of construction.

The Committee held its first event in September 2015 in celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). The event, held at the Concord Free Library, Fowler Branch, featured a film on the history of the ADA and a talk by an expert on disability rights law. These activities allowed us an opportunity to work collaboratively with many town and private organizations including the Building Inspector, Planning Board, School Committee, Concord Public Library, CC at Play, the Ripley Playscape, and the CCHRC.

Our November and December meetings will focus on developing new goals for the year ahead as well as refining our strategies to continue the work we have started. In addition to any current or new projects the committee decides to focus on in 2016/17 our most important goal will remain: increasing our visibility in the community. With a few exceptions, our committee meets monthly on the second Thursday of each month at 5 pm at the

Harvey Wheeler Center. Our meetings are open to the public. We encourage anyone living with a disability and their friends and family members to communicate with us to share experiences, to inform, guide and engage with us in promoting awareness and change. Ramps, door openers, and all forms of access technology are important but they are only one step in the process of creating a culture of full inclusion. Please contact us by email at disabilitycom@concordma.gov

WHO WE ARE
Jean Goldsberry earned a Master’s Degree in Community Mental Health from Northern Illinois University. After working in the mental health field as a therapist and administrator, she received a fellowship to attend the School of Management at Yale University. She graduated and moved to Boston where she has worked since in management of programs for persons with disabilities.

Architect David Holdorf, now retired, is familiar with the regulations of the Massachusetts Architectural Barriers Board, which are based on the ADA.

Alice Van Deusen is a retired college professor who has spent her entire professional life working with or training others to work with people with disabilities.

Meryl Schwartz has worked in varied medical and community mental health settings with chronically ill and geriatric populations. Meryl has lived with MS for 35 years.

Dr. Lloyd Price is an Adult, Child and Adolescent and Forensic Psychiatrist who has worked in the areas of disability assessment and needed accommodations to maximize opportunities for those with psychiatrically based restrictions/limitations.

Jennifer Brooke is a Concord resident with three young children, one of whom is deaf, blind and has cerebral palsy. She and her husband apply the expertise they have acquired as parents of a very unique special needs child in the work they do.

Marybeth Barker worked as a public health social worker providing social services to adults with living chronic disease, mental illness and physical disabilities. Marybeth is grateful for the opportunity to repurpose her professional and personal experience with disability by volunteering to serve on Concord’s Committee on Disability and the CCHRC.