The Town of Fairhaven's Commission on Disability reconvened recently for the first time in over a year after the pandemic had disrupted its regular meeting schedule. The CoD's work with the Massachusetts Office of Disability to advocate for policies and projects that make municipalities more accessible for our differently-abled communities.

As a former member, I was excited to rejoin the Fairhaven CoD, and had the honor of being elected as the commission's chairperson. As a sibling of an individual living with autism, the work of ensuring our town's accessibility is a cause very close to me. And I am fortunate to chair a commission that is comprised of passionate and dedicated residents.

During the meeting, however, we learned that there were critically important accessibility projects in town that were stalled due to the pandemic. I imagine this is the case in other municipalities throughout the Commonwealth, and there are still many towns and cities on the SouthCoast that have yet to establish a CoD.

According the state's website, as of May 2020, Acushnet, Rochester, Marion, Lakeville, Freetown, Berkley, Swansea, Dighton and Rehoboth have not established a CoD or an ADA Committee.

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I encourage everyone who is interested to find out if there are any openings on your town's Commission on Disability, or to help establish a CoD if your town doesn't have one yet. Many Town Halls and City Halls are in older structures that make full accessibility challenging, but not impossible with the proper advocacy.

Accessibility for community functions and for the day-to-day business of local government is a fundamental right. Now more than ever, there needs to be a strong coalition of citizens joined together in the movement for an inclusive society.

Marcus Ferro is the host of The Marcus Ferro Show airing Saturdays on 1420 WBSM from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contact him at marcusferrolaw@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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