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Coastal communities get grant to enhance accessibility

A ramp across a sandy beach. The ocean is in the background.
Chris Lehman
An accessible ramp allows people in wheelchairs to reach the beach at D River in Lincoln City.

Eight coastal Oregon communities are getting a grant from Travel Oregon to help improve their accessibility for travelers with disabilities.

The funding won’t be enough, in and of itself, to make full-scale infrastructure improvements. Instead, it’s meant to help the towns figure out what resources they already have, and then market those resources to people who need them.

Advance knowledge is key for people with disabilities, said Bettina Hannigan, president and CEO of the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce.

“So that when people come over to the coast, they know ‘hey, I’ve got a restaurant that’s going to be available, that I can go into,’" she said. "Or ‘I can go into the events center and they’re going to have a hearing loop there.’”

The towns will partner with “Wheel the World,” a company that works to help people with disabilities find accessible services when traveling.

"Sometimes it may not be the accessibility itself that needs to be improved, but the awareness of what different locations have," said Hannigan. That's where the partnership with Wheel the World comes into play.

Aside from Florence, the other communities receiving an accessibility grant are Astoria-Warrenton, Lincoln City, Coos Bay-North Bend-Charleston, Depoe Bay, Newport, Waldport and Yachats.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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  • State parks will become much more accessible under a new plan from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. Doors, parking lots and restrooms account for about half of the existing barriers for people with disabilities. Those should take about five years to fix, but the full plan is expected to take about 25 years. Advocates for people with disabilities say they’re heartened that parks will be brought into compliance with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act, passed more than 30 years ago.