Beach wheelchair is latest gain in accessibility

A beach wheelchair at Fort Worden is the latest improvement gained since Jefferson County established an active cross-disability Accessible Communities Advisory Committee, (ACAC), in accordance with the Accessible Communities Act and the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment.

Toby Olsen, executive secretary of the Governor’s Committee on Disability and Employment in Olympia, originally had the idea that the committees be given access to $100 of every $450 ticket that is given out to people in Washington state who park in accessible parking spots without a permit.

Olsen’s idea was that every county in the state – through county commission approval – could access grant funding for a range of projects that would develop local initiatives and activities to promote a greater awareness of disability issues and acceptance while supporting involvement and access for persons with disabilities.

The state Legislature passed the Accessible Communities Act, which gave the committees access to the funding. Jefferson County was the first county to receive approval to access the grant funding.

Locally, the ACAC grant is overseen by Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) on behalf of the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners.

In order to create a local ACAC, Anna McEnery of JCPH pulled together a group of people who have a disability and/or who work in the field, volunteer or are a parent of a child with a disability. Membership has fluctuated, but the following people are members of the ACAC: Sue Ammeter, Bonnie Bolster, Sarah Grossman, Carl Hanson, Emily Mandelbaum, Kim Rafferty, Pat Teal and Shirley Williams.


The Jefferson County ACAC applied for and received a $24,165 grant. The following is a list of projects that were funded:

Jefferson County Accessible Restaurant Guide; Jefferson County Accessible Cultural Venues Guide; Accessible Dash website; accessible map of Port Townsend; People First language rack cards (highlighting respectful language when speaking to or writing about someone with a disability); Gatekeeper outreach rack cards (information on what changes in a person’s behavior might indicate the need for a consultation with a resource professional); service animal brochure (definition of a service dog/animal in comparison to an emotional support dog/animal); emergency preparedness brochure for the medically fragile (information for those with functional and access needs where planning and a support network is critical); cosponsorship of the movie “Becoming Bulletproof” at the Port Townsend Film Festival; sponsorship of the free screening of a movie about disabilities titled “Where’s Molly?” at the Rose Theatre during National Disability Employment Month; and acquisition of an accessible beach wheelchair and walker.


The beach wheelchair and the beach walker have been recently funded. An ACAC member who accessed a beach wheelchair on a family vacation in Florida presented the idea to the group.

The walker and wheelchair are kept next to the Cable House Canteen on the beach at Fort Worden, and can be checked out for free. The Fort Worden Public Development Authority has been a wonderful partner, according to a press release from Jefferson County Public Health.

For additional information about the Accessible Community Advisory Committee, or if you have a project idea, contact Sue Ammeter at 437-7916 or