Send The New Normal Your Accessibility Complaints And Kudos!

Send The New Normal Your Accessibility Complaints And Kudos!

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer directs Jewish Learning Venture’s Whole Community Inclusion which fosters inclusion of people with disabilities through the Philadelphia Jewish community. She loves writing/editing for “The New Normal” and for WHYY’s newsworks. Her latest book The Little Gate Crasher is a memoir of her Great-Uncle Mace Bugen, a self-made millionaire and celebrity selfie-artist who was 43 inches tall and was chosen for this year’s Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month Book Selections. She’s recently shared an ELI Talk on Standing With Families Raising Kids With Disabilities and has released a journal designed for special needs parents.

Recently, we heard from a New Normal reader who has a mobility impairment. She told us that she had a difficult time accessing the 92nd Street Y, the iconic Jewish cultural institution in New York City because there was no pop-up button on the main door, intercom to ask for help and the security guard inside the building was unresponsive.

We reached out to the Y, which replied quickly and responded to her concerns.

The problem is that the Y has a ramp at its main entrance on 92nd Street, but the pop-up door are at the 91st Street entrance, said Beverly Greenfield, Media Relations Specialist for the Y. A “pop-up” door is one in which a user can simply push a button and the door opens, without assistance.

That means that folks who use the ramp to get to the door at the main entrance might have a hard time getting through it. We suggested a sign at the front door that includes a phone number to the security desk and directions to the pop-up entrance on 91st Street, and an intercom to reach staff inside. Greenfield said she appreciated these ideas.

The security officers are trained to be aware of guests in wheelchairs approaching the front door and to offer assistance, Greenfield said, but the Y might need to improve its training given what happened to this woman, she said.

Currently, the Y offers accessible seating in their concert hall and welcomes users to reach out by phone or when ordering tickets online with any requests for accommodations.

Readers, we want to hear from you: Please tell us about all your experiences – both positive and challenging – accessing Jewish institutions and services. You can write us in the comments below, post on our New Normal Facebook page or email me at

Sharing our difficulties will help us realize how much work is to be done; talking about the good things that people are doing well help us all move accessibility forward.

read more: