Oakland For All: The Champions of Accessibility Year-Round

Advocating for a more accessibility-friendly business district, Oakland For All: Beyond Accessible is a collaborative program driven by Oakland stakeholders, nonprofit organizations, local and state government offices, as well as community advocates. Financial support for the program is donated in part by the FISA Foundation, Oakland Transportation Management Association, Oakland Business Improvement District and various private donors.

The mission of the program is to open a pathway to a community without barriers. Oakland For All strives to be an advocate for the creation of user friendly buildings, commercial establishments, public spaces and communities. Raising public’s awareness of accessibility and ADA is another key element of the program. The goal is not only to eliminate barriers for people with disabilities in Oakland, but also to help improve their quality of life. Eventually, Oakland For All hopes to transform Oakland into a model community that can be replicated in the greater Pittsburgh area and potentially throughout the country.

A big shout out to the committee members of Oakland For All – Alisa Grishman, Joan Stein, John Tague, Martell Covington, Mary Fletcher, Regis Charlton, Rev. Sally Jo Snyder, Vanessa Braun and everyone else on the committee! Thank you for being the flag bearers of this mission and for your valuable insights into making Oakland for all!

Oakland RAMP Crawl

The RAMP Crawl is an annual event that serves to increase awareness on accessibility along with an element of fun. Participants visit all the accessible establishments that are in Oakland, one at a time, while enjoying their services (food, drinks and more!). During registration one can expect gift bags, free drink tickets, swag and most importantly, a trip around Oakland with like-minded people who care and advocate for accessibility. 

RAMP Crawl is an initiative of Oakland for All – which in turn is a program run by OBID which advocates for creation of accessible establishments in Oakland. It was launched two years ago. Collectively, four businesses stepped forward for this event to champion accessibility. Sushi Fuku, MilkShake Factory, Yoga U PGH and Mario’s Oakland Saloon have been at the forefront of making their businesses accessible. 

OBID is committed to pushing for accessibility in the Oakland community and will continue to advocate for inclusivity!

Championing Accessibility

Oakland business owners set the example today for a more accessible neighborhood tomorrow.

Oakland strives to be an accessible and inclusive community every day. Over the years, Oakland businesses have taken the initiative to set the example for the future of accessibility in Oakland: The Milk Shake Factory (3612 Forbes Avenue), Yoga U PGH (3608 Forbes Avenue), Sushi Fuku (120 Oakland Avenue), Mario’s Oakland Saloon (116 Oakland Avenue), and Zen’s Noodle House (3531 Forbes Avenue). From curb ramps, to sufficient room for a wheelchair to navigate indoors, these businesses have truly made Oakland for all.

Here is what some of our champions had to say about their initiatives!


“With the help from OBID, ADA consultant Jones and matching grant, we installed a permanent ramp with auto door opening buttons.  We want everyone to enjoy our services!”

Laurel Chiappetta, YOGA U PGH

“The design of space has always been on my mind. We have easy access entry with automatic door opening. Our props in the studio are strategically placed in a way that is accessible. Ability, body type, size, shape – none of these will be a hurdle to anyone who wants to attend our classes!”

Urban Redevelopment Authority in collaboration with OBID has made it possible for these transformations to take place. We will continue to advocate for and create user-friendly buildings, commercial establishments and public spaces in Oakland.

A for Ability, A for ADA

A landmark civil rights law came to life 29 years ago – the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Not only does it prohibit discrimination, but it also ensures protection and equal opportunities to persons with disabilities. The ADA protects everyone: from the customer using the push button to open a heavy door to a parent using the curb ramp to move around the stroller and that student using the ramp to pull the heavy baggage on move-in day! 

The Americans with Disabilities ACT is usually equated with physical limitation, but in fact, it also covers psychological disabilities (1) like dyslexia, autism, etc. In just under a year, ADA will celebrate thirty years! 

Incidentally, October is also the National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Celebrated annually, NDEAM highlights American workers with disabilities and reiterates how important it is for policies and practices to be inclusive, which gives opportunities to all Americans who want to work. “With continued advances in such supports, including accessible technology, it is easier than ever before for America’s employers to hire people with disabilities in high-demand jobs” (2) . To know more, you can visit the U.S. Department of Labor website.

Oakland strives to create a community that is accessible and inclusive. To learn more about how many Oakland partners advocate for a community designed for all  check out www.oaklandforall.org


1 – https://www.disabilitysecrets.com/topics/what-counts-a-disability-under-ada
2- https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/odep/odep20190627

Yoga U PGH: A Space for the Community

Laurel Chiappetta, Owner of Yoga U PGH

Between going to work, taking classes, and all the hustle and bustle that takes up the day, there rarely comes a time where people stop to take a moment for themselves. With the newly opened Yoga U PGH, stationed in the heart of the business district (3608 Forbes Ave), comes the opportunity for people to take that moment, revitalize, and exercise without having to go too far from work, school, or home! 

Yoga U PGH offers several different types of yoga, including vinyasa flow, Hatha, led Ashtanga, and some fun classes like Cuss and Burn and wildcard music.  Also, FREE half-hour lunchtime meditations are available during certain days of the week, allowing people to breathe and leave stress at the door for a short time. Depending on the day, the schedule can range anywhere from 5:15AM classes to 8:45PM classes, with all times in between. The schedule is open and diverse to cater to different availabilities because if anyone can relate to juggling school, work, and taking care of the mind and body, it’s Laurel Chiappetta, Owner of Yoga U PGH.

Besides owning Yoga U PGH and teaching classes there, Chiappetta has taught statistics and research courses at Oakland’s own University of Pittsburgh. Chiappetta is a Pitt alum (x3) who has also worked for UPMC and then as an independent statistical consultant.  As someone who has spent so much of her academic and professional life in Oakland, Chiappetta noticed that, “there was nowhere I could conveniently incorporate my yoga practice into my schedule.” The desire to be the one who changed this situation, plus years of planning, formed Yoga U PGH.

Chiappetta believes that Oakland has a number of different groups who would benefit from yoga and meditation. Students, workers, hospital visitors, residents, and everyone in-between can find a time and class that works best for them. Chiappetta stresses the importance of accessibility and including the whole community in this studio. In doing so, Yoga U PGH offers specialty classes geared towards, but not limited to: body positive yoga, cancer patients, and first responders.
 With a great location, open availability, and plenty of class options, Yoga U PGH is the place to give yourself a moment, and give your mind and body some well-deserved exercise.