Yesterday, my mom, friends and I went to Taunton City Hall to pick up papers requested by Scott Ricker, our Access Specialist. We parked in a handicap parking space directly in front of the building and close to a sloped wheelchair access to the sidewalk.
There are two doors at the front entrance; the right door is automatic; you have to push a button that has a wheelchair accessible sign above. Directly next to the automatic door push button is another sign with a wheelchair accessible symbol stating “ACCESS AT REAR”.
Once inside, there are stairs directly in front of you for persons to access the 1st floor and a very small wheelchair lift to the right to take persons in a wheelchair to the 1st floor.
I had to wait for the entry door to close because it was awkward limited space as the opened door prevented me to access the lift due to the narrow space between the door and stairs.
After the door closed, it was difficult to make the tight turn at the corner to access the lift. There is a bell with a wheelchair accessible sign next to it stating: “Please Ring Bell For Assistance”. A very kind and patient woman came and assisted me with the lift. She told us that the rear entrance is easier for wheelchair access.
Once on the 1st floor, I was pleased to see that the Tax Collector Customer Service window has a low counter for persons in wheelchair to access.
The hallway is spacious with plenty of room to maneuver my wheelchair. The water fountain is of perfect wheelchair accessible height.
There is a sign on the wall on the 1st floor that reads:”Accessible Restroom Take Elevator to the 2nd Floor, Turn Right off Elevator Down Hallway On Left”.
You can access the 2nd floor by utilizing the elevator located on the 1st floor. Space in the elevator is very limited and it was a tight squeeze but all four of us managed to fit. We felt like we were sardines in a can and wish someone brought us a can opener:>)
The single unisex/wheelchair accessible restroom on the 2nd floor has an automatic door with the push of a button; however, the buttons didn’t seem to be working. The restroom is not very wheelchair accessible; it is too narrow; the sink is too high; the pipes underneath are not covered as is now ADA required. The toilet has the safety bars located on the back and side wall, yet it seemed useless to me; there is not enough space between the wall and the side of the toilet for my wheelchair to fit in order for me to transfer onto the toilet. There is not enough room to turn my wheelchair so my friends had to back me up for me to exit.
We then headed to the Building Inspectors Office. We were greeted by two very kind women. We picked up the papers that Scott asked us to get.
We then took the elevator to the basement level where the rear wheelchair accessible entry/exit is located. The door is automatic with the push of a button; there is a wide wheelchair accessible ramp with railings located on both sides; there are approximately five handicap parking spaces located in the rear parking lot of the building.
We suggest that persons in wheelchairs enter/exit through the rear entrance because it is direct access; there is easy access to all floors available by elevator. It is in our opinion, that the front entrance is too tight for a wheelchair; the wheelchair lift is difficult to access due to the tight turn; the lift is very small for oversized wheelchairs. The front entrance would be more useful for persons with canes or adaptive equipment such as walkers and not for persons in a wheelchair.
I give Taunton City Hall FOUR STARS for wheelchair accessibility. This City Hall is very wheelchair accessible except for the accessible restroom. In order to earn the Fifth Star, they would need to make the accessible restroom more wheelchair accessible. We suggest that they widen the accessible restroom; lower the sink so it is wheelchair accessible; place protective covering around the exposed pipes underneath the sink and fix the restroom’s button for the automatic door. We were very pleased to see a restroom with automatic doors.