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Stavros Center gives out Access Awards

Wide ramps and doors, assisted listening devices, elevator access to every floor and fully accessible rest rooms are among the features that make the Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton a good place for people with disabilities to visit. For that reason, the museum this year was among 51 area people, businesses and institutions honored by the Stavros Center for Independent Living.

The center, which has offices in Amherst, Greenfield and Springfield, serves more than 6,000 people with disabilities across the region. Every year, Stavros gives out Access Awards to honor local individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions towards increasing accessibility for the disabled.

Martina Carroll, systems change advocate at Stavros and a member of the Access Awards committee, said the museum has “done a very good job of providing access,” with stairs that are specially designed with the disabled in mind and a wide selection of strollers, wheelchairs and walkers to help museum visitors get around.

Also this year, the center honored Florence attorney Elizabeth Silver with its Friend of Stavros award for the many years she has represented Stavros’ consumers in court. Carroll explained that MassHealth has a history of cutting the number of hours that consumers of Stavros’ Personal Care Assistance program are allowed to have, sometimes “to a point where it is dangerous for the person.” Silver has helped many of these consumers win back the cut hours. “She’s been awesome,” Carroll said.

This year’s awards ceremony was held Oct. 18 at the Log Cabin in Holyoke. The center this year also honored the Smithsonian Chowder House in Hatfield and Sparetime Bowling in Northampton for providing easy access to people with disablities.

e_SEmD MISHAL HAMIL

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