STAMFORD, Conn. -- A man with cerebral palsy made an emotional plea Wednesday that Stamford become a more welcoming place for him and for others who face physical challenges.
"Stamford is great in many ways, but it has also been hard and sometimes I get really frustrated because there are problems for me and my wheelchair and it makes having cerebral palsy really difficult," Andrew Burbank said at the unveiling of the Committee on Access 4 All (A4A) at the Palace Theatre.
"I know it's hard for other people with disabilities, too. But this can change something if we all work together. Then maybe I can live in an apartment building and and be able to drive my wheelchair to my job without worrying about steps."
The committee members, appointed by Mayor David Martin, are charged with making recommendations on access to Stamford's public programs, properties and services and with increasing awareness of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary.
The work is necessary, Martin said, saying Stamford is determined to make the city open for all.
"We need to do what is right for all our people, so we formed this committee," he told about two dozen people in attendance.
The city will also have to face the costs that are associated with making improvements, Martin said.
Phil Magalnik, one of the 16 committee members and who is legally blind, said he recently walked by himself from from his downtown residence to a meeting in Landmark Square. He said it was the most terrifying thing he had ever done.
Magalnik, who was an EMT and public safety dispatcher before he lost his eyesight, said he is one of 144 legally blind Stamford residents who are officially known -- although he said there are probably more. He said the blind are often overlooked and forgotten in society.
"We're mostly unseen - which is ironic - because we can't see, either."
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