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How Accessible Is Accessible: Santa Fe, New Mexico

There’s nothing like traveling to a new place & exploring, but what if you weren’t given access to fully explore?

What if all the sidewalks were closed, all the stores were closed, all the streets were closed? What if you were forced to only experience the world from inside your room or your car?

Disabled people like me deal with so many accessibility issues, everywhere we go, every day, but for this blog, I’d like to focus on sidewalks.

Have you ever tried going up and down a cobblestone, brick, gravel, or uneven bumpy sidewalk using a wheelchair? Crutches? Rolling Walker? Cane? Walking sticks?

Photography by Denise Vasquez

I’ve had to use all of the above & venturing on walkways that are not ADA compliant is mentally and physically exhausting, and dangerous. I’d rather not get hurt again, so I avoid places that are not ADA compliant, and I have to say the fact that the ADA law has been in place for over 30 years, and places still are not ADA compliant feels negligent, discriminatory and deliberate!

People are becoming more aware of the fact that 1 billion people worldwide have a disability, but we still have a long way to go in making the world equally accessible to everyone!

Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021

I recently traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico & have been looking forward this trip for many years! I tried to exploring the downtown area on foot so I could venture into the shops, galleries and restaurants.

Unfortunately, many of the sidewalks were not ADA compliant so I could only walk for a little while before, having to turn around and head back to the car because I was worried about tripping on uneven pavement, falling & hurting myself! Not to mention the sidewalks are so narrow, even with the mask enforcement, it was really difficult to socially distance.

Photography by Denise Vasquez

I walked in this empty alleyway, and asked my man Randy Martinez to take a photo, in order to show the type of walkways commonly found in the downtown area. The sidewalks on too many streets were narrow, uneven, and had deep cracks in them.

Accessible parking & crosswalks with ramps were really limited, and many shopping areas that had stairs did not offer ramps.

Photography by Denise Vasquez ©2021

As a photographer, it was really frustrating not being able to find flat, even sidewalks in all of the locations where I wanted to take photos, so I didn’t take as many photos as I would’ve liked around the downtown area. Better to be safe than sorry!

The one location I really liked, where I shot the “How Accessible Is Accessible” YouTube video, was around The Museum Of Contemporary Native Arts. The area had flat paved walkways, places to sit and rest, a shaded area, and a ramp leading into the museum.

My recommendation to Santa Fe would be to make the downtown area more accessible to everyone!

When we talk about accessibility outdoors, we need to include disabled people in the conversation, especially when it comes to making decisions on complying with the ADA law that was put in place over 30 years ago!

*Contributions help keep The Disabled Photographer Project "How Accessible Is Accessible" series going, and you can support the project by making a donation Here:

The project is also currently seeking partnerships, sponsors, grants, and ambassadorships. For inquiries contact Denise Vasquez

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