Paralyzed Veterans of America awarded The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with one of its highest and most prestigious honors, the Barrier-Free America Award. Bestowed to the Kennedy Center for their endless commitment to accessibility, the award recognizes exemplary accessible architectural design projects and the amazing people behind them.

“The Kennedy Center demonstrates what accessibility and inclusion is supposed to look like,” said Charles Brown, National President of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “They surrounded themselves with a community of experts and asked the right questions, included innovative details into every renovation, and spent the time to get it right – and THAT is the very essence of what our Barrier-Free America Award is all about and why PVA is so proud to call them a long-time partner. It is also the reason why they lead other performance venues around the world by example when it comes to accessible design.” 

Opened to the public for more than 50 years, the Kennedy Center’s roots to accessibility date back decades. Their approach to accessible design is not only holistic but also inclusive – welcoming every patron and performer regardless of one’s visible or invisible limitation. From their first accessible renovation project (at the Concert Hall) to their most recent one (at the REACH), virtually every turn and touchpoint throughout the 17-acre, 1.5 million square foot facility is fully accessible. From their garages, visitor desks and foyers to their removable armrests, restrooms and theaters (to include each of their backstage areas, dressing rooms, and cell phone charging stations), the Kennedy Center left no stone to accessibility unturned.

“As the Nation’s Cultural Center, we believe that all persons have the right to experience, explore, and engage with the arts,” stated Deborah F. Rutter, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. “As the building’s spaces and theaters have undergone renovations, it was important to us to ensure experts in the field of accessible design and persons with disabilities were included in the conversations. This was an opportunity for us to show respect to our artists and audiences by modeling accessibility for the nation. It is an immense honor to receive this award and we continue to value our longstanding relationship with PVA.”

In 1946, PVA’s founding members came home from World War II unable to fully access the country they had just returned from defending. Barriers to their independence were everywhere: from workplaces, sidewalks, and stores to restaurants, entertainment venues, and even their homes. Today, PVA’s Department of Architecture helps fill that void. PVA architects advise on accessible design projects, from public buildings and stadiums to memorials and other structures. They develop building codes and standards for building designers, developers, facility owners, and contractors nationwide. They also educate people with mobility impairments and the community about accessible design through consultations, seminars, and publications.

To learn more about the PVA Barrier-Free America Award and past winners like, Bob Vila, the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and the Virginal Governor’s Mansion, visit Paralyzed Veterans of America.

[Source(s): Paralyzed Veterans of America, PR Newswire]