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About ACCESS Main Street

Two Universal Design Symposiums, hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, were held in Madison in October 2006 and 2007. These symposiums generated high interest from many corners of the community, including government officials, designers, business owners, advocates, academics, people with disabilities and others who were interested in leading Wisconsin to promote a state model for community inclusion through the implementation of Universal Design. In follow-up, many participants expressed the desire for resources to assist them in increasing the accessibility of community organizations, businesses and buildings.


In 2008, Access Main Street was conceived and designed following dialogue between the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's Rehabilitation Research Design and Disability Center (R2D2) and an advisory council from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Office of Independence and Employment, Pathways Projects.


(Individual businesses that utilize Universal Design are not promoted on this website, however, good examples and helpful suggestions may be considered for use in the future).

It took me several years of struggling with the heavy door to my building, sometimes having to wait until a person stronger came along, to realize that the door was an accessibility problem, not only for me, but for others as well. And I did not notice, until one of my students pointed it out, that the lack of signs that could be read from a distance at my university forced people with mobility impairments to expend a lot of energy unnecessarily, searching for rooms and offices. Although I have encountered this difficulty myself on days when walking was exhausting to me, I interpreted it, automatically, as a problem arising from my illness (as I did with the door), rather than as a problem arising from the built environment having been created for too narrow a range of people and situations.

Susan Wendell, author of
The Rejected Body: Feminist Philosophical Reflections on Disability