When ‘accessible’ isn’t enough

Four people pose to get their photo taken
MPR News host Angela Davis (left) talks with Brittanie Hernandez-Wilson (center left), James Walsh (center right) and Natasha Merz (right) in an MPR News studio in the Kling Public Media Center in St. Paul on Thursday.
Nikhil Kumaran | MPR News

James Walsh has been a reporter in the Twin Cities for decades. A trip to city hall isn’t out of the ordinary.

But Walsh recently started using a wheelchair. And that’s changed his experience of getting where he needs to go.

On a recent January day, Walsh found himself trapped inside St. Paul City Hall for over an hour — even though City Hall is technically considered “accessible” under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

MPR News host Angela Davis talks with Walsh about his experience. And he’s joined by two advocates in the disability space about the gaps that still exist here in Minnesota — whether it’s physical access, technology or services.  

Advocates are preparing to rally at the State Capitol this month for the annual Disability Advocacy Day.


  • James Walsh is a longtime reporter for the Star Tribune, covering St. Paul and its neighborhoods.

  • Natasha Merz is assistant commissioner of Aging and Disability Services at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

  • Brittanie Hernandez-Wilson is Equity and Justice Director with The Arc Minnesota, an advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

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