A cracked sidewalk. A train platform without an elevator. A busy intersection with no audio signals. For many people in our region, these are more than just inconveniences. They mean being unable to make it to a job or school, canceling a trip to the local commercial district, or delaying a visit to the doctor.
Physical barriers prevent people with disabilities from moving around the region — and that can have a significant influence on our economy.
Accessible infrastructure creates economic opportunity by connecting people to jobs, education, and services. Communities that are accessible are welcoming to everyone — residents, visitors, and shoppers. People with disabilities in the U.S. have about $500 billion in annual disposable income, which they are more likely to spend in communities that are accessible to them.
Of the 8.6 million people in northeastern Illinois, over 800,000 have a disability. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is working to improve accessibility across the region not only because it benefits those with disabilities — but because it benefits everyone.
Improving and maintaining accessibility is vital to creating more economically prosperous and livable communities. But to truly understand the financial benefits of accessibility, we need more research.