Imse told the Community Development Committee (CDC) of ANC2F the new campaign as a "smile-friendly, business-friendly approach". He said that 11 percent, or about 70,000, of D.C. residents have some kind of disability. Seventy-five percent of people with disabilities eat out at least once a week. He also cited a statistic which said that people with disabilities spend over $35 billion in restaurants yearly (a statistic that appears to come from this 2003 study).
The guide (available here) contains a list of best practices for restaurants and a questionnaire to determine an establishment's level of accessibility-friendliness. It was developed with assistance for D.C.'s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
Imse said his office would encourage restaurant owners to support the campaign by putting up an OHR-produced sticker in their windows. It says: "We pledge to be Accessibility Friendly".
A wheelchair-bound woman spoke up at the meeting to say the level of handicapped accessibility for restaurants on nearby 14th Street NW was not adequate. Restaurants often had one or more steps up into the establishment, which effectively prevented people in wheelchairs from entering.
Only three restaurants on 14th Street are handicapped accessible, she said. It was not clear to what stretch of 14th Street this remark applied.
Imse said, if the woman wished to improve accessibility on 14th Street, D.C.'s Office of Disability Rights (ODR) "is a good first stop".
After the meeting, I made a completely unscientific study of an area of popular restaurants on 14th Street. Here's what I found:
|Rice Restaurant (1608 14th Street) has a step up - not wheelchair friendly.|
|Pearl Dive (1612 14th Street) also had a step up from the sidewalk.|
|The soon-to-open Red Light Dessert Bar (1401 R Street) has two steps up from its patio.|
|Barcelona (1622 14th Street) seems to be more accessibility-friendly.|