Many Chicago beaches accessible

July 12, 2009 8:53:23 AM PDT
Chicago's lakefront is at its best during the summer months, especially when you can enjoy 26 miles of beaches. Many of them are now accessible for people with disabilities. Sixteen of Chicago's beaches have accessible beach walks that enable people with physical disabilities to take a dip in the lake.

From the sidewalk to the lake, 31st Street beach is accessible for everyone.

"Originally, the park district was using mat produces, nine or maybe as far bas as nine ten years ago and over a period of time we tested a number of products came to a realization that solid beach walk are better than any mat products," said Larry Labiak, the Disability Policy Officer fir the Chicago Park District.

Labiak says not every beach can be made accessible.

"Some of the beaches it's very difficult to provide accessibility to what would be the ground level of the sand to them put out a beach walk but you know under the ADA not every beach has to be accessible," Labiak said.

Beach lover Jorge Alfaro spends at least three days a week at the beach.

"I love the ramp, I mean the ramp is just awesome. It gives us the opportunity to get to the water you know I mean prior to the ramp when I would come with my girlfriend, it would be a little embarrassing to get the muscling bound men to pull me to the water," Alfaro said.

"At several, we have a ramp that goes directly into the water. We are adding more ramps later this season so by the end of this summer half of them at a minimum will have ramp access right down into the water," Labiak said.

Newcomer to Chicago and the beaches Joey McTigue is looking forward to spending time here.

"I honestly just not really wanted to deal with the beach because its something that is so hard it just reminds me of all the things I felt like I used to be able to do that I can't do now...with accessible bathroom, this leads all the way out to the water it makes me feel that I can do the things that I used to without having to worry about it much," McTigue said.

"When I was a small child I used to come on the L to the Rainbow beach and my dad would throw me on his shoulder, walk 200 feet to the water, plop me down, take off my braces and lift me, put me in the water. Two weeks ago, I was inspecting the beach walk at Rainbow beach rolled out and had such an unusually and intriguing deja-vu moment."

All of the beaches are free and open to the public. To find out which beaches have accessible beach walks, bathrooms, and parking click on the link below: www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/resources/beaches/

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