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Group Mapping of Handicap Accessibility in Small Town America

Authors: Sara Hughes*, Frostburg State University, Elizabeth Green, University of Tennessee
Topics: Development, Disabilities, Rural Geography
Keywords: Development, group mapping, community, accessibility, urban planning, rural geography
Session Type: Guided Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Small towns are often limited in the resources they have to manage community needs, improve infrastructure, and reach sustainability goals. In Frostburg, Maryland there is a push for more handicap accessibility throughout the town but no established method to efficiently capture the status of sidewalk accessibility while remaining cost effective. Through a partnership between city officials and the Geography Department on campus, we developed a ground-truthing method to categorize sidewalk conditions through the use of online cartography software on tablets. The results were captured in real time with photograph documentation in Google Earth or ArcGIS Online before being polished through traditional ArcMap. The data was then translated into statistical scores for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility in several important areas including places of worship, educational institutes, and recreation area. Less than 10% of recreation areas were show to be accessible for handicap individuals and the hope is that this research will be used to secure funding for the community to improve accessibility for all segments of the population so that people can live a fulfilling life in their home community and serve as a model to other rural areas struggling in similar ways.

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