How Do You Define the “Best City” for People with Disabilities?

For the fourth year in a row, the consumer finance website WalletHub has named the Kansas City, Missouri, suburb of Overland Park #1 in a ranking of the best American cities for people with disabilities. San Bernadino, California came in at last place, #150.

The site says it bases its rankings on economic environment, health care, and accessibility. To help people find the best place to live and manage a disability, they review cities for everything from the number of physicians per capita to the rate of employed people with disabilities to accessibility to city parks and recreation.

Lists like these can be fun, and a ton of folks (including me) get drawn into reading them. I don’t think this one holds much value, though.

The term “people with disabilities” (PWD) is pretty broad. A PWD can be someone with age-related disabilities, a person who uses a wheelchair, a child with a developmental disability, a returning veteran with a traumatic brain injury – we all have very different needs. A very quick bit of research on Overland Park shows it has a strong public school system, (ideal if you have a child with a disability) and a weak public transportation system (difficult if you’re like me, and your disability prevents you from driving).

Chicago, where I live, ranked #7 on the list this year. Nine cities in Arizona made the list, and while people using wheelchairs wouldn’t have to deal with snow and ice in the winter there, those of us who use service dogs would have a hard time keeping them hydrated in the summer.

So for now, at least, I’m staying here in the Windy City. The availability of public transportation here lets me live more independently, the roads follow a grid system so it’s easy to know my way around without being able to see, and my Seeing Eye dog loves the cold. What can I say? It’s My Kind of Town!

How accessible is the place where you live? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Beth Finke Says:

    And thank you for leaving this comment. Your brother was fortunate to have a family member like you to cheer him on.

  2. Beth Finke Says:

    Wow! Thank you for writing. Let us know when Here We Go is published — we’ll write a book review for the Easterseals blog.

  3. Camille Yahm Says:

    Forty-six years ago my youngest daughter was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, cutting off her oxygen supply. At first we did not know the extent of her abilities vs disabilities, but by age 5, we realized that she would have physical and mental limitations. In fact, her doctor told us that she might not live beyond her teenage years. She has suffered from seizures and respiratory infections because of a fragile immune system. But she has defied all expectations. Though her mental age is around the level of a 4-5 yr. old, she has emotional and spiritual qualities of a genuine saint. As a child learning to walk, we worked with staff at Easter Seals in Atlanta, GA. It was an experience that we looked forward to because they were helping our daughter make significant changes in her ability to walk and later to run. Now I am planning to write a book about our daughter and trust it will offer hope and encouragement to other parents with a child like ours. The title is “Here I Go!” which reflects our daughter’s statement when she was attempting a new or different situation that might pose a challenge. We are grateful for all of those in the medical and educational fields who assisted us all along the way.

  4. David Burke Says:

    Thank God for Easter seals my brother Jonathan did well in it.He was working and was relatively independent.I wish he was back in it.Thank you for all the dedicated people.
    David Burke

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