For 25 years I’ve used a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury. I have learned first-hand what makes a destination and a home accessible. My husband and I built and live in North America's top-rated universal design home, the Universal Design Living Laboratory. I live an active life and travel for work as an expert in accessible and universal design. My husband and I also travel globally for vacations.
When I travel, I must research places to visit to accommodate me in my wheelchair. I often look online to search for locations in the destination city and on the destination marketing organization’s website for that region.
What is important to me is van accessible parking, an accessible path of travel, accessible door entrance, and restroom. In a restaurant, I look for low tables so I can roll under them.
I was looking at places to visit in Loudoun and contacted Visit Loudoun for guidance. I was referred to local resident Jan Mathov, a fellow woman in a wheelchair, to ask what her favorite places were. Mathov is the vineyard manager and co-owner of Iron Will Winery. Here are her favorites.
The accessible parking area has space for vans, is level, easy to roll on and has a path of travel to a level sidewalk. The main doorway is wide enough for a wheelchair, has a level threshold and is easy to open. The wine tasting room has tables about 30 inches high with knee access under the tables. The restroom is accessible.
PC: Casanel Vineyards & Winery
The paved parking lot has accessible places designated. There is a vertical platform lift to bring a person in a wheelchair up from the walkway to the porch so you can enter through the door into the restaurant. The threshold is easy to navigate and the door is light enough to open. Staff are usually there to open the door. There is a low table in the bar area.
PC: West End Bar & Pub
The main restaurant and accessible restroom are at the ground level. A vertical platform lift transports a person in a wheelchair to the bar on the lower level. Weather permitting, there is accessible outdoor seating that overlooks a pond. The low tables make it easy to roll under for dining in a wheelchair.
PC: Sweetwater Tavern
This theater has diverse entertainment, including musicians and bands. Accessible parking is in the garage next door, and additional parking lots are nearby. The stage on the main floor has low tables and an area for dancing. There is an accessible section inside the auditorium to the right.
There are more than 100 stores, a food court, accessible restrooms and dining areas. Accessible parking spots are clearly marked. There are curb cuts, ramps and accessible walkways throughout.
This building has an accessible side entrance. There is an elevator to the restaurant and wine bar. Low tables make it easy for people in wheelchairs to roll under.
PC: Aimee Henkle
Bio: Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized accessibility consultant, speaker, author and president of Rossetti Enterprises LLC. www.RosemarieSpeaks.com
She speaks to and consults with meeting professionals and destination marketing organizations to help them create welcoming, inclusive environments. This ensures they exceed the requirements mandated by the venue and the meeting organizer for inclusion and diversity.
Having been paralyzed from the waist down with a spinal cord injury, she speaks from her wheelchair, sharing her dramatic personal story. She presents to audiences throughout the U.S. and beyond as a recognized expert on inclusive design.
Copyright by Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. 2023