Access to Community

Why We Exist

The Access to Community Committee, an initiative of the Midland Area Community Foundation, has developed the following information to create general awareness and provide guidelines for organizations and businesses to further advance inclusion and accessibility for all users.

Photo of a youth dance class, with the focus on one young girl who has a physical disability, smiling as an adult man assists her in participation by holding a ring to her face.


Midland County’s Vision Statement is Together. Forward. Bold. An exceptional place where everyone thrives. Access to Community aligns with this vision statement while focusing on the inclusion of people with disabilities in the planning and building of an inclusive community. People with disabilities are often referred to as “the largest minority group” and disability is sometimes referred to as the “uninvited guest to the social justice table”. People with disabilities are many times excluded from community programs and activities because of structural barriers, inaccessibility, and stigmas, and therefore people in the community are less aware of the prevalence of disabilities. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the United States, 1 out of 4 adults have some form of disability.

The vision of Access to Community is to remove barriers and make sure all projects and programs initiated in Midland County are thoughtfully designed to include the unique needs of people with all abilities. It is not possible to engage in this work without all our community systems working in alignment to collaborate around this vision statement. People with disabilities, along with their families and friends, have financial resources that they are more likely to invest in programs and services in communities that are inclusive and accessible. To build a community that is accessible to all users means that Midland County will not only be accessible to all of its community members, but also become an attractive tourism destination for all people.

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Photo of a man in a wheelchair hitting a baseball off a tee, as part of The Miracle League baseball program in Midland, Michigan.

Call to Action:

To build a community that is accessible, inclusive, and welcoming to all, the Access to Community Committee makes the following recommendations and invites all community members, organizations, and businesses to join us. Here is how you can make a direct impact:

  1. Aim to create the least restrictive environment for all users and aspire to accommodate users with the most complex needs and everyone else will benefit as well.
  2. Be aware that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines are the minimum standard. Incorporate Universal Design principles to exceed minimum ADA Accessibility and offer a broader user experience.
  3. Provide and create the necessary modifications and accommodations to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in all of your facilities and activities by installing accessible features and equipment.
  4. Consider universally accessible bathrooms that include a lift and an adult changing table. People with complex needs are unable to engage in recreational opportunities if they do not have access to a bathroom that meets their needs.
  5. Include budget expenses needed to cover the purchase, maintenance, and renewal of accessibility features and equipment. Remember, accessible changes can be small and low-cost.
  6. Be sure to include community members and stakeholders from the disability community when having discussions in your organization or out in the community.
  7. Provide information about your programs and services in alternative formats for visual, hearing, and cognitive impairment to be accessible to all members of the community.
  8. Strive to increase the number of hired employees, team members, and volunteers with disabilities and train all employees/volunteers regarding inclusion on an ongoing basis.
  9. Include diverse images and advertising materials of people with disabilities partaking in your activities.
  10. Review and update your organizational policies to promote inclusion and stop discrimination in physical structures, language use, and strategic planning.

As Access to Community continues to advance its advocacy within the community, the committee will be developing ongoing communication and resources related to universal accessibility on this website.

Access to Community welcomes new committee members, specifically people and organizations serving and supporting those with disabilities.

Interested in learning more about the committee? Please contact:

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Photo of a young man in a wheelchair participating in The Miracle League baseball program in Midland, Michigan, with volunteers.

Glossary of Terms:

Inclusion is the act or practice of including and accommodating people who have historically been excluded (because of their race, gender, sexuality, or ability). (1)

Accessibility is the quality of being easy to approach, reach, enter, speak with, use, or understand. (2) Accessibility focuses on how a person accesses or benefits from a site, system, or application. (3)

Accommodation refers to a change, exception, modification, or adjustment to a rule, policy, practice, or service that may be necessary for a person with disabilities to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy public and common use spaces, or to participate in programs or activities, in the same extent as people without disabilities. (4) (5)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. (6)

Universal design is a design that’s usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. (7)

Glossary Citations:

  1. Very Well Mind: What is Inclusion
  2. Accessibility
  3. Accessibility Basics
  4. Boston University: Ability and Neurodiversity
  5. US Department of Housing and Urban Development: Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications
  6. What is the Americans With Disablities Act?
  7. The Universal Design Project: What is Universal Design?

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Photo of the accessible Pediatric Center Playground in Midland County, Michigan.


  1. The Invisible Disabilities® Association: Coping With Invisible Disabilities
  2. Disability Studies Quarterly (DSQ): Does Dis/ability Now Sit at the Table(s) of Social Justice and Multicultural Education?
  3. Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Disability Impacts All of Us
  4. Forbes Magazine: Why Businesses Should Care About Disability Issues
  5. New York Times: Disability Studies: A New Normal
  6. U.S. Access Board: Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Standards
  7. Center for Independent Living – Berkeley: The 7 Principals of Universal Design
  8. Berkeley: Web Access
  9. U.S. Access Board: Signs
  10. Disability IN: Disability Etiquette
  11. Disability Friendly: Disability Etiquette: A Simple Guide to Respectful and Courteous Communication
  12. Changing Places: What Are Changing Places Toilets?
  13. Changing Places: Home Page
  14. Global Disability Rights Now: Low Cost Physical Access Solutions for Schools

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2020 Census Hub Established to ensure our region gets an accurate count in the upcoming 2020 census
Access to Community Advancing inclusion and accessibility for all Midland County citizens and visitors.
Cultural Awareness Coalition Our Mission: To promote, encourage, share and sustain cultural awareness throughout Midland.
Exploring Our Future Ensuring Midland remains a strong, vibrant, welcoming community well into the future
Impact Investing Through impact investing, we can deploy capital locally instead of making investments in more typical capital markets, where the dollars flow all over the world. When communities need more resources, many community foundations are seeking ways to have their endowment fund investments put to work to accomplish their mission and financial target goals.
Lloyd Osborn Memorial Award The purpose of this award is to memorialize the qualities of dedication and service to sports and community exemplified by the late Lloyd Osborn, long-time coach and teacher at Northeast Intermediate School (now, Northeast Middle School).
Midland Area Career & College Access Network Working to provide everyone in Midland County access to postsecondary education.
Midland Area Youth Action Council Providing grantmaking and other philanthropic opportunities to area youth
Midland Believes Midland Believes is a different kind of scholarship targeting economically disadvantaged and first-generation college-going students i.e. none of the parents/guardians have earned a college degree
Public Arts Midland Public Arts Midland is a space to help people create connections through public art.
Ready For School The goal of this initiative is for every child in Midland County to receive at least one year of high-quality preschool prior to kindergarten.
River Days The free family event culminates with a spectacular fireworks show
Santa House Each year, Santa comes to Midland on the Tuesday evening after Thanksgiving. He arrives at the Tridge, makes his way up Ashman St. and helps our community light the Courthouse for the Holidays. Then he makes his way over to the Santa House where he brings joy to the community throughout the Christmas season.
Service Club Alliance The Service Club Alliance is a collaborative partnership between Midland area service clubs to simplify the grant application process to effectively serve applicants that provide essential support to Midland County residents.
The Big Give A men's Giving Circle impacting nonprofits in Midland County
Youth Impact Partnership Building empathy and kindness amongst youth.