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Walk audit focuses on accessibility and inclusion

On January 15, 2019, Missoula’s Downtown Master Plan held an Inclusive Interdisciplinary Walk Audit (I2Walk) as part of the Downtown Missoula Master Plan Public Design Workshop. Over the week, various workshop events gave community members an opportunity to share their vision and ideas for the future of downtown Missoula.

The I2Walk was co-sponsored by the University of Montana, the Rural Institute, and the Montana Disability & Health Program, as well as other local disability and community groups. Together, these groups help to build capacity within the state and local communities to support the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Dr. Meg Ann Traci, Research Associate Professor and RIIC employee, along with disability advocacy partners and stakeholders from around the state, collaborated to organize and lead the walk audit. To learn more about the development of the I2Walk, see: Walkable rural communities for all: Using inclusive, interdisciplinary walk audit workshops to achieve health equity, where you can find information about a poster presentation on the process presented at the APHA 2018 Annual Meeting & Expo.

 After the I2Walk audit, participants gathered to share reflections and comments: 

  • “Missoula is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live but there is still much to do to improve its accessibility with people with disabilities.”
  • “It was helpful for me to walk with people with disabilities and realize that curb cuts do not go far enough in terms of including people with disabilities in our community.”
  • “[I] LOVE the Accessible Pedestrian Signal feature-- the speech/verbal WALK indication. The first time I heard one of these downtown, it was like Christmas morning—I was so happy. [However,] the volume on this is turned down so low now that it’s like they’re no longer there.”
  • “Keep thinking Universal Design. What benefits persons with disabilities, benefits all.” 
  • “I will bring up what I saw and learned in my social circles. This walk brought accessibility to the center of my attention and I’ll try to do the same with my social groups. I really appreciated the perspective ‘accessible’ versus ‘usable’.”

Read about the Inclusive Interdisciplinary Walk Audit in this Jan. 15 Missoulian article: “Tour illustrates mobility constraints in downtown Missoula.”
To learn more about Missoula’s Downtown Master Plan, visit https://missoulasdowntownmasterplan.com/ where you can learn about the initiative, provide feedback, learn about public engagement opportunities, and find maps and event summaries.

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