On January 10th, Inland Northwest Lighthouse employees Ryan Strickland and Mark Shiveley had the opportunity to speak at the Spokane City Council meeting. The issue they addressed was the proposal to use funds that were designated for transportation to retrofit sidewalks that had become uneven and broken. Mark and Ryan stressed the importance of well maintained sidewalks for all pedestrians, including people who are blind and visually-impaired. They were able to share their personal experience from both the perspective of a dog guide user and a cane traveler. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the proposal didn’t pass. We were heartened, however, by encouraging words from Council Member Richard Rush on the overall progress and understanding of these issues compared to just a few years ago:

“Thank all of you for your excellent contribution to the dialogue at City Council yesterday. I was wonderful to have such a professional, knowledgeable and credentialed group pushing our community toward healthy and sustainable outcomes.”

“Going into yesterday’s meeting I genuinely believed our position had a chance to prevail. In retrospect it is clear there are other political agendas afoot that prevented this outcome from being realized. The good news is that the dialogue we had yesterday at Council would have been inconceivable just two years ago. The conversation has moved significantly due to your efforts. Thank you!”

“I have to add that you are on the right side of history, just a little ahead of it. That is the definition of leadership. I deeply appreciate your sharing of this leadership role with me as we continue this endeavor. Best wishes!” – Richard Rush, Spokane City Council, District 2 Position 1

Many thanks to Ryan and Mark for attending the meeting, and for speaking to the importance of travel safety for blind and visually impaired individuals in our community.

– Paula Hoffman, Vice President of Government Affairs