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An Analysis of Accessibility to Public Participation in Westfield, Massachusetts

The intent of this research was to determine whether there are accessibility issues that prevent residents of Westfield, Massachusetts from attending city council meetings. By identifying reasons people do not participate in city council meetings, it is possible to alter the methods of public participation that are used within the community. An online survey was created and made public in a Facebook community forum as well as distributed in local businesses in order to gather information about residents’ attendance of city council meetings and any hindrances that prevent them from participating. An interview with a former city council member was conducted in order to understand internal accessibility issues in Westfield. Upon completion of the data collection, it was concluded that there are indeed accessibility issues that prevent residents from partaking in city council meetings. Many residents are not aware of the times of meetings and/or do not feel as though the issues relevant to them will be addressed or listened to by the council. These findings suggest it is possible that there are alternative methods of public participation that better fit the needs of residents.

Margaret Leahy '23
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