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10 Great Cities for the Physically Disabled

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- A city that's walkable may lure college grads and retirees, but urban areas that are accessible to even those who can't walk are more convenient for everybody.

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has long advocated for increased access for people with wheelchairs and has taken an interest in how cities are improving access and complying with the Americans With Disabilities act. Recently, it looked at 100 of America's largest cities and ranked them based on wheelchair access and quality of life for people using wheelchairs.

The group took climate into account and tried to avoid cities with extreme temperatures or snowfall that pose major obstacles to those living with paralysis. It also took into account air quality, number of physicians, rehab specialists and rehab centers, accessible fitness and recreation facilities and transit for the disabled.

If a city contained large numbers of physically disabled people and those people were able to get jobs, that was considered a plus. The age of the cities was also considered, especially since older buildings are tough to upgrade, as was each city's spending and eligibility requirements for Medicaid.

10. Lubbock, Texas
The home of Texas Tech is on a simple grid, has a Citibus bus system that recently deployed hybrid buses specifically equipped to accommodate full-sized wheelchairs and averages high temperatures near 60 degrees in the middle of February. It's a fairly sprawling urban center, but that climate and ease of navigation help shrink the distance from here to there.

9. Orlando, Fla.
Yes, it's in hurricane country, but it also has average temperatures in the 70s from November through March. Combined with the Lynx bus system that's wheelchair accessible, modern construction courtesy of Orlando's boundless sprawl and a vast health care network, Orlando's climate is pretty friendly to the wheelchair bound.

8. Winston-Salem, N.C.
There's certainly some overlap between cities friendly toward retirees and wheelchair users. Winston-Salem attracts both with help from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Novant Health facilities, but the new construction that's accompanied the city's more than 50% growth since 1990 certainly makes it easier to manage.

7. Birmingham, Ala.
The city's been shrinking since the 1970s, but it still has winter temperatures in the 60s and vast health care resources thanks to the University of Alabama at Birmingham and HealthSouth (HLS). The biggest perk, however, comes from the Birmingham-Jefferson County Transit Authority, which operates nearly two dozen paratransit buses throughout the city.

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