Beginning in November, The Independence Center began our building remodel. Our staff has shared the building with consultants, construction crews and contractors. The construction has caused a few smelly days, and some noisy ones as well, but upon its completion everything was worth it in the end. Our building is beautiful, friendly and welcoming, but most of all its more accessible.

Accessibility and accommodation were the foundation of this remodel, and seeing it come to fruition is rewarding for all stakeholders at The Independence Center.

“We bend over backwards on accommodating people, “said Andrew McAdam, Manager of Business Services at The Independence Center. “You need to respect everyone. And we need to be the place that starts that.”

How has the building become more accessible?

 What we’ve done

 How it helps

 Loop system  Makes the building environment easier to hear in for individuals with hearing impairments. The loop system was installed in the building, and a portable one was purchased as well, so we can go out in to the community and still maintain accessibility.
 Accessible furniture Desks with cranks allow for anyone in a wheelchair to adjust the height. All office chairs are fully ergonomic. Cabinets are lower, so wheelchair users can reach the top drawer.
 Lighting Installed all new fixtures in the building that provide a crisper light, making it easier for those with visual impairments to see.
 Hallway width We’ve maintained the width of the hallways, which are wide enough for 3 – 4 people to move through at once.
 Lower wall fixtures The light switches and thermostats are lower, so they are more accessible to everyone.
 Flooring The flooring installed in the building is specifically made to be durable, but very user friendly for those that are visually impaired so you won’t trip on it and it’s great for wheelchairs. Vinyl carpet was installed in all of the offices, which works well with wheelchairs as well.
 Alert system We created an alert system and speakers around the building so people that have hearing impairments can hear it in more places.
 Clocks There are high-contrast clocks in all offices, which are easier to read for those with visual impairments.
 Hired a driver for our accessible van This driver was hired to drive those who are unable to drive.

In addition to these changes, The Accessibility Store experienced some change in this remodel as well.

In The Accessibility Store, we’ve increased the things that we sell to reach further in to each of the disabilities,” McAdam said. “So instead of just having a cane, now we we’ve got a cane and widget to go with it. We’ve increased the number of games in there as well. It’s not just functional how to live day-to-day; it’s also about how to enjoy life day-to-day. We go away from just the and expanded it in to how can you really enjoy life.”

The Independence Center is the hub of the disability community in this region, and our building should reflect that. Our building is a shining model for access and for accommodating our customers and employees who have disabilities.

Want to see more?

Check our Facebook for pictures from our BBQ, celebrating the conclusion of the remodel here.