There are solutions. One of them is something called Big Bell. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses are required to be accessible. For those located in buildings that were built before the law, Big Bell will help. It's affordable and easy to install.
Shaker Tradition, located in Evanston, is a small business that sell American-made accessories. Owner Judy Igliori has been in business for 22 years. Seven months ago she installed Big Bell.
"I didn't do it to necessarily increase the amount of customers that have wheelchairs, I did it because it's just important to be able to have the door open to everyone," Igliori said.
Big Bell is a large touch door bell that is mounted outside the store.
"You push the bell. I come to the door, I open it, I put the ramp up, and you wheel in, and we're all set," said Igliori.
After Judy installed her Big Bell, building owner Robert Amado decided to install them for all the other stores in his building.
"I know that's there a lot of handicapped people, wheelchairs in this area. I see them daily on the street, and I just thought it would be something that I had to do for my building and for my tenants. And I learned from my tenants, and that's why I did it," said Amado.
Big Bell costs between $129 to $200. Ramps are extra. Prices range from $60 to $400.
The big question is who's responsible for providing accessibility tenants or landlords. Jonathan Perman, executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce said, "My understanding, that it's really the tenant themselves that is responsible for, because they're the ones that are actually running the business . They must work obviously in a cooperative manner with the owner of the property, if they're leasing, in order to make the provision or the change in order to make the business successful."
Although Big Bell is an accessible solution, there's more to it.
"They create awareness," Perman said. "The design and the icon that is on the Big Bell really sends a message to those who are patronizing the store that, Yes, this is a store that cares about me, the person who needs to access the store, and create awareness even for those who perhaps before were unaware of the challenges that people with disabilities face.".
Customer Jerri Voda agrees.
"It really makes getting inside the office or businesses so much easier," Voda said.
Since Big Bell has been installed, Amado says he has received positive feedback from both his tenants and people in the neighborhood.
For more information on Big Bell visit www.inclusionsolutions.com.