ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) – Americans will head to the polls on Tuesday to cast their ballots.
All polling places must be accessible for those with disabilities, according to federal law.
Roanoke-based EZ Ramps Mobility Solutions opens up buildings so people using wheelchairs and crutches can easily enter them.
For the past three elections, workers have taken their skills to New York to allow access to voting locations after the city was sued.
“Basically what the lawsuit says was they must provide ADA access to the site from the closest curb cut to wherever the polling site is,” said company president David Todd. “So, even if a school might be ADA compliant for kids, because the bus will pull up into the parking lot that sits 20 feet above the side walk, it’s not for someone who is walking down the sidewalk.”
Each year, the company gets more work, this year, installing ramps at 41 polling locations and they only have a few short hours to get the job done.
“We go running around from site to site to site. As soon as we’re done, we’re texting each other, I’m on to my next site. It takes about 20 of us to coordinate and get everything done,” Todd said.
Once the polls close, they break it all down, a process that only takes about two hours.
Between elections, it’s work with VA hospitals and veterans that keep them busy.
“Last year we installed 990 ramps for veterans located through Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and parts of a few other states,” continued Todd.
David Markham’s dad, Arthur, is a veteran currently living in a nursing home. He is having a ramp installed so he can move back home and still be able to come and go.
“He can still walk a little bit, sometimes it’s a little rough,” Markham said. “It will be easier for him to have a ramp and then he can come out and sit in the yard and enjoy himself.
It’s the freedom of mobility that gives workers a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to provide people a way to live their life with dignity and do essential things,” Todd says.
Business has grown a lot for the company, more than doubling in the past year.
With that increase, it has run out of space in its current building.
This month, workers are packing up their current 3,500-square-foot facility and moving into a new 13,000-square-foot space.