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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Livable Communities: Results of AFB's Survey

What Were 2003's Top Five Most Livable Communities?

And the winners are...

  1. Charlotte, North Carolina
  2. Berkeley, California
  3. Kalamazoo, Michigan
  4. New York, New York
  5. La Crosse, Wisconsin and Louisville, Kentucky (tied)

The cities and towns reflect a variety of features important to blind and visually impaired residents, with each community emphasizing certain strengths.

Charlotte was selected mainly because it is affordable, walkable, and has a temperate climate; the community also has a cooperative city government that works with blindness advocates.

New York and Berkeley have fantastic public transit systems that allow blind residents full advantage of the local cultural and social opportunities.

Kalamazoo is another mid-size city that is affordable, friendly, and easy for people to get around.

Louisville, like Kalamazoo, is affordable, and the presence of many blind people there helps to ensure greater community integration and a general sense of acceptance.

La Crosse has the benefits of a small town—being known by your neighbors, affordability, and the ability to "get things done" (in this case, a successful track record of advocating for improved city buses)—as well as the cultural, recreational, and educational benefits of larger college town.

Profiles of the winning communities can be found here.

What Other Communities Were in the Running? What Cities or Towns Were on the "Top 15" List?

The runner-ups are...

  1. Philadelphia, PA
  2. Silver Spring, MD
  3. Austin, TX
  4. Eugene, OR
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Boston, MA
  7. Santa Monica, CA
  8. Urbana, IL
  9. Revere, MA

How we picked them:

The criteria deemed most important for making a community livable, and the nominations, came directly from over 200 blind or visually impaired participants in a national research project. Because public transportation rated so high, all of the finalists had to have a commitment to decent, accessible public transportation. A national advisory committee voted on the final selections.

What Were the Most Livable Big City and Small Town in Each Region of the Country?


Big: New York, NY
Small: Revere, MA


Big: Charlotte, NC
Small: Silver Spring, MD


Big: Columbus, OH
Small: Kalamazoo, MI


Big: Berkeley, CA
Small: Santa Monica, CA

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