Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Calling All Astoria Businesses!



Join our Community Ramp Project, in partnership with the StopGap Foundation, to alleviate physical barriers caused by single stepped storefronts in Astoria. We will provide participating businesses with a FREE colorful and deployable access ramp to eliminate barriers and create inclusive spaces we can all live, work, and play in.



We are looking for twelve Astoria businesses that have:
1. A straight, single step store front; AND
2. An entry lip of at least ½”; AND
3. A door width of at least 36”.


An example of an inaccessible location. A Stopgap ramp would help wheelchair users and caregivers pushing strollers to patronize the shop

FAQs:
Q: Who makes the ramps?
A: We plan for the twelve ramps to be built by volunteer high school students enrolled in a woodworking after school club at a local high school.
Watch a sample 
video of the process.

Q: Who pays for the materials for these ramps? Is there a delivery fee? I am afraid of any hidden costs.
A: The project has been funded by a Citizens Committee for New York City neighborhood grant, along with material donations from Behr Paints and other local hardware stores, and individual donations. These twelve ramps for our pilot project are completely free.

Q: What’s the next step if I’m interested?
If you want a ramp for your business or have a storefront to recommend, please contact us at 
therampprojectnyc@gmail.com. We will set up a time to visit your establishment, go over the waiver and any questions you have, and take measurements. Then we’ll make and deliver your ramp!


Would you like to get a ramp for your business?

Become a part of this amazing project that will undoubtedly create media buzz, attract people to the neighborhood, and ultimately help raise the quality of life for everyone living in Astoria. Contact us at 
therampprojectnyc@gmail.com.


We look forward to hearing from you!

The Community Ramp Project Team,
Christine Serdjenian Yearwood and Rica Takashima

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Surveying Astoria's accessibility landscape using a wheelchair and stroller

 We surveyed the Astoria area for accessibility on May 26th.
We walked on Steinway Street, Broadway, and 30th Avenue with a wheelchair and a stroller. Two high school students, one baby, and five adults volunteered on the tour to survey the area. Thanks to all those who participated!
When using a wheelchair, even with assistance, it was difficult or impossible to get over a step that many of us had crossed without ever stopping or noticing before entering an establishment.
We explained our project to business owners and staff members, presenting them with the opportunity to get a free ramp to improve their store front and our community.

We measured lips of steps and the width of doors. In order to be considered inaccessible, lips must be more than 1/4 of an inch unbeveled or 1/2 an inch beveled; to qualify for a ramp, doors need to be a minimum of 32 inches wide and stairs must have a single, straight step.
While our goal is to create twelve ramps during this pilot project, we found eighteen small businesses along just these three streets that met the above requirements, and one national business as well.






We compiled all of the data in order to move forward.





We are excited to see which businesses will accept our offers and become more accessible!

StopGap pilot for 2018


We are planning to carry out a StopGap pilot project in the Astoria area of Queens.

We would like to replicate and spread the work of StopGap, a Canadian organization improving accessibility via the creation and distribution of portable ramps. This proposal is a pilot project focused on the Astoria area of Queens, where Christine and Rica currently live.


 
These images are from StopGap Foundation Canada 





We plan to engage local establishments to commit to being a part of our StopGap pilot, create a reasonable number of custom-made ramps for those establishments within a limited budget and time frame, and donate the ramps to them for use. The ramps improve access and inclusion so that all members of society can access public and private spaces. Participating in our project would be largely beneficial to establishment owners as well; they do not need to pay a high cost to install a permanent ramp, nor get a permit for the approval to have it available on the premises in order to increase their clientele or customer base.
We will collaborate with woodworking students from a local high school, and other maternal groups to bring the project to fruition.
Using the pilot to create detailed records regarding the cost, time, roadblocks and best practices, we will utilize this information to expand the project to other areas in NYC.




 
Christine's Story:  I have a young child, and therefore an incredibly hard time entering establishments with steps or raised entrances while pushing a stroller. The same difficulties are experienced by thousands of other caregivers in the Astoria area, along with those who use walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and scooters.   
In November of 2017, through my UP-STAND advocacy work improving accessibility on behalf of families, I came across StopGap. StopGap creates custom-made, portable ramps as a solution to improve accessibility in older cities and towns that were built before ADA standards were developed or universal design was introduced. Old cities and towns like New York commonly have unmanageable entrance gaps and steps, preventing access for a large segment of the population – those of us who are disabled, elderly, pregnant, and parenting community members. With this project, I aim to improve access for us all to create a more vibrant, inclusive community.
Rica's Story: Since 2014, my friend, a wheelchair user, has often visited NYC from Japan. I wanted to invite her to my favorite restaurants and cafes while she was here. However, when there was a small gap or even a 1/2" step up at a door, it rendered the establishment inaccessible to my friend. I was shocked because the gap was very small for me to step over and I had never thought about how such a small thing would make it impossible for her to enter and enjoy the delicious food at any of these locations.
We looked for restaurants throughout the city, but many establishments were inaccessible. I realize that NYC has many old beautiful buildings since it has a long history, and it is not easy to be an inclusive city for everyone; when I learned about the StopGap project, I was glad to find a way to make our city more inclusive. I hope that, one by one, it will be possible for us to do this and the day will come that I can bring my friend to my favorite cafes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Hello!

We are a pair of mothers –
 Christine Serdjenian Yearwood and Rica Takashima.
Christine Serdjenian Yearwood is the Founder and CEO of UP-STAND.
The UP-STAND movement works to improve accessibility 
for pregnant women and caregivers across the United States. 
Rica Takashima is a Manga graphic novelist and participatory public art artist. 

We met by chance at an Astoria community market at the end of 2016, 
and we have since started two projects together. 
The Ramp Project-StopGap NYC, and One Stop Family Pop Up.
Purpose:
The Ramp Project-Stop Gap NYC aims 
to create a world where every person can access every space. 
A world free of barriers would help give everyone the opportunity 
to live a life full of independence, spontaneity, and ultimate fulfillment.
We would like to replicate and spread the work of StopGap, a Canadian organization 
working to improve accessibility via the creation and distribution of portable ramps. 
Our first pilot project is focused on the Astoria area where Christine and Rica currently live.
We will use the pilot to create detailed records of cost, time, roadblocks and best practices, 
and utilize this information to expand the project to the other areas in NYC.

If you are interested in our project, please feel free to contact us!
 Our projects are funded by Citizens Committee for New York City grants.
Thanks a lot for these #NeighborhoodGrant awards!