Visitable Showcases Accessibility and Mobility
The idea for VisitAble started in the spring of 2019 as a school project for founder Joe Jamison. The goal was to start a business that solved a problem. His father David suffered a spinal cord injury and has been a paraplegic for Joe’s entire life. His passion for accessibility sparked the birth of VisitAble. One problem VisitAble chooses to focus on is one I have encountered, and feel strongly about. He realized ADA compliance didn’t always mean accessible. He also saw the different way disabled people were treated in comparison to their able bodied counterparts. He started by testing the need of businesses for a specific type of certification that promoted that they were friendly to their customers with mobility challenges. In addition to the work he was doing, he was being asked to create a disability etiquette training, an interactive database for mobility information and an accessibility test.
The company increases disability etiquette by training decision makers, as well as visitor and customer facing employees, at public-facing locations.
The training is a crucial piece of the certification process. VisitAble’s training encompasses the treatment of customers and visitors with disabilities, feedback from a mystery guest with a mobility challenge, as well as location-specific feedback on mobility access and how to use customer service to lessen barriers. Once the first set of feedback was complete and the first incarnation of the certification process began, VisitAble officially became incorporated in August 2019.
One of their focuses is to broadcast the mobility of different businesses and public-facing locations via their database: www.visitable.org/business-database. This allows people the ability to leave reviews, and add locations. They also created a forum, at www.visitable.org/forum, which is a place to discuss mobility information, accessibility and treatment of those with disabilities. VisitAble is working on creating a universal standard for mobility access and disability etiquette via their certifications. According to its founder Joe Jamison “The current certification VisitAble is creating is a Training Certification that verifies that a location’s employees are aware of their mobility barriers, are trained with VisitAble’s disability etiquette training, have engaged the feedback of an individual with a disability, and are transparent about their mobility information”. One of VisitAble’s goals is to create another certification, which “confirms superior mobility access, going beyond ADA compliance,” stated Jamison. The company’s founder realizes the shortcomings of the ADA. They are working on a way to notice awareness of mobility access and disability etiquette through its certification.
The lack of accessible parking has become an ever growing issue with the increase of disabled people in the United States. “One of the biggest things that surprises me is that one out of four people in the United States are disabled (one out of seven have mobility challenges) but this is not reflected in the guidelines for the ADA. The requirement for the amount of accessible parking spaces is nowhere near one out of four or one out of seven,” said Jamison.
Many people are discouraged by the different way they are treated. Thankfully for VisitAble, the different way in which Joe Jamison has seen the disabled community treated invigorates him. “It makes me motivated to make a change through VisitAble. I grew up with my father being treated differently than the rest of my family. It was so frustrating to see hosts and hostesses at restaurants speaking to me and ignoring him. This was one of the biggest motivating factors I had to start VisitAble. I want to create as many friendly environments I can that individuals with disabilities can enjoy and feel comfortable in,” stated Jamison. Another of Joe Jamison’s wishes for the disabled community seemed very similar to my own. “I want the disability community to be treated the same as people without disabilities. I want them to enjoy all the same opportunities that the rest of society does. Just because someone has a disability, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to enjoy going to a park, or going to a favorite local restaurant. I want to make the feedback of the disability community integral to the improvement of different locations. Also, I want people with disabilities to not have to call an establishment for accessibility information, but rather check a centralized website where they don’t have to depend on the knowledge of an employee,” Jamison concluded.