Letter: Gratitude for Responsivenss of Disability Access Advisory Committee


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When I planned to meet some friends in Amherst for lunch recently, I looked for a restaurant that would accommodate my friend’s wheelchair. For his wheelchair arms to fit under the table, there had to be 30 inches from the floor to the bottom of the table top. Armed with my tape measure, I scouted out several downtown restaurants open for lunch and none had tables high enough. My friend has risers to place under table legs, but the tables at the downtown restaurants had either pedestal bases that would prevent the use of risers or bars between the legs that would obstruct the wheelchair.

We gave up on that lunch date, and I wrote to the Disability Access Advisory Committee (DAAC), soon to be the Commission on Disabilities, to see if they would advocate for restaurants to be more accommodating to wheelchairs. I immediately received a response from the staff liaison to the DAAC, DEI Director Pamela Nolan Young, that my request would be on the committee’s agenda the following week.

During the discussion at the meeting, I learned that furnishings were not included in ADA regulations. One committee member said he sometimes brought a tray to eat off of when the tables were too low. The committee offered to draft a letter for the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce to place in its newsletter to encourage its restaurant members to consider having some higher tables.

The committee also informed me that the Amherst Public House was the best restaurant for wheelchairs. I went there with my tape measure, and the table top was 29.5 inches high. My friend’s wheelchair fit under the table, and we had a pleasant lunch. Thank you DAAC for your advice and advocacy.

Maura Keene

Maura Keene is a resident of Amherst’s District 3

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