Arlington Teen Builds Visitors’ Guide for People with Disabilities
By Office of Communication
Posted on October 01, 2012, October 01, 2012


Chad Williams searched months for the perfect Eagle Scout project, something that would provide long-lasting benefits and affect change.

By all accounts, Williams succeeded. On Friday, the 17-year-old senior at Arlington High School unveiled his project to City leaders and earned a certificate of recognition for his work, presented by City Councilmember Michael Glaspie.

Williams created the foundation of the Arlington Visitors' Access Guide, which highlights the accessible amenities of Arlington hotels and will help visitors with disabilities select hotels that best meet their needs.

"I feel like I really accomplished something," said Williams, a member of Boy Scout Troop 520. "It feels incredible knowing my project will benefit a lot of people."

Roughly 6.5 million visitors choose Arlington every year as their destination, and in recent years the city has hosted high-profile events like the Super Bowl and World Series.

But until now, a visitors' guide for people with disabilities did not exist, said Donna Mack-Anderson, chairwoman of the Arlington Mayor's Committee on People with Disabilities.

Before traveling, Mack-Anderson said, people with disabilities typically search for online photos and contact each hotel to check on accommodations, which can be time consuming.

So Mack-Anderson, whose son, Jordan, is also a Boy Scout, suggested to Williams that he try to create a guide for people with disabilities for his Eagle Scout project.

"We want every visitor to get the best out of their visit to Arlington," Mack-Anderson said. "Everyone should feel welcome."

For the project, Williams focused on hotels in Arlington's bustling entertainment district, and he enlisted the help of the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, which sent out formal letters to hotels making them aware of the project.

Williams spent about seven months studying accessibility accommodations, trying to reach hotels, setting up appointments, recruiting friends to help evaluate hotels and creating the guide. Twenty-two hotels agreed to take part in the guide.

Criteria included whether hotels offered a long list of amenities, including wheelchair-accessible bathtubs, swimming pool lifts, proper telephones for deaf and blind visitors, accessible restrooms in the lobby and wide doorways for wheelchairs.

Williams said he hopes the guide is expanded to include more hotels, restaurants and other venues.

"Before this project, I would go into a building and not really think about whether it was accessible," he said. "Now I immediately start looking around to see its accommodations."

Visitors can access the guide on the Convention & Visitors Bureau website at

Mayor’s Committee on People with Disabilities
News, People with Disabilities