KC woman working to make buildings, including new KCI, accessible to people with disabilities

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City woman is leaving a lasting mark to make sure everyone can access places in their community.

Michele Ohmes knows life with and without wheels, but chronic pain has always plagued her.

“I can't believe people can sneeze and laugh and things like that, and it doesn't hurt. And I'm thinking, 'Oh my God!' But it's just been part of my life,” Ohmes said.

In 1995, Ohmes' condition got so severe that she became a permanent wheelchair user and immediately noticed its challenges.

“Everything is 10 times harder because you're twisting, you're doing this, and of course, I have all these different joint problems," she said. "But the second thing is having things that are accessible and being able to get them.”

So instead of accepting limitations, she became an outspoken advocate.

Michele Ohmes

She worked as Kansas City's ADA specialist then became a private consultant and speaker, travelling the world and talking with school and business leaders. She's worked on dozens of projects around the country to retrofit old buildings and make new ones highly accessible.

“God's given me the gift to see other things people don't see,” Ohmes said.

Soon, she'll share her talents and insights with Edgemoor, the team picked to build a new KCI airport.

“I’ve said, if this is where you're going to use me, and this is the best way, I'm fine with it," Ohmes said. "And I really believe I'm helping more people because I'm living it. So I can look and help and show them solutions."

With her service dog Sufra at her side, Ohmes plans to keep using her experiences to help others understand and accommodate others with disabilities.

“I’ve not let the things I'm dealing with get in the way of doing what I can do to help,” Ohmes said.

Countless people have now benefited from her vision to make the places we all use more accessible to everyone.

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