CAPTION: Pictures 1 and 2, Falls Church Vice Mayor Robert Hubble makes his way through a door and travels with MS victim Tom Thayer. PHOTOS BY VANESSA BARNES HILLIAN -- THE WASHINGTON POST John F. Herrity, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, heard only 65 percent of what was going on Tuesday. The same morning, Robert L. Hubble, vice mayor of Falls Church, spent 15 minutes figuring out how to get from the parking lot to the front door of the Falls Church Post Office. Conrad Marshall, a candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, couldn't fir through the corral at the McLean Roy Rogers so he had lunch at McDonald's. And Del. Elise B. Heinz (D-Arlington) had to put off much of her normal work because she wasn't abke to read anything on Tuesday. The four were among 25 Northern Virginians participating in the second annual Barriers Awareness Day. The program, organized by Handicaps Unlimited of Northern Virginia, involved volunteers who spent a typical workday simulating the problems of the handicapped. some were accompanied by a person with a real disability and by a nonhandicapped person, who were there to help out in a pinch. "I learned an awful lot," said Herrity, who spent the day wearing a set of earplugs that eliminated 35 percent of his hearing. His sentiments were echoed by Hubble and Marshall, who confined themselves to whellchairs for the day, and by Heinz, who wore a mask to simulate blindness. Most of the volunteers completed their day's normal routine, but slowly. They quickly found out that in addition to physical barriers, the handicapped face a number of other obstacles. "The barriers for the disabled are both architectural and attitudinal," said Soris M. Ray, chairwoman of Handicapps Unlimited. The Northern Virginia group is one of 10 state chapters dedicated to helping improve the lives of handicapped citizens. Tuesday's event was one of several planned by the group to focus attention on the problems of the disabled and to voice concerns about the effect Reagan administration budget cuts will have on services to the handicapped. Access was the major concern of Falls Church Vice Mayor Hubble, who spent most of his day searching for the easiest way to get into businesses and public buildings in his hand-guided whellchair. Hubble was accompanied by Thomas Thayer of McLean, who has multiple sclerosis and uses an electric-powered whellchair, and by Don Beyer, who is not handicapped. Hubble began his day at George Mason Junior-Senior High School in Falls Church. "I thought this would be a good opportunity to check out the new ramps at the school," he said, dodging students as he maneuvered his wheelchair down the halls. The school is just finishing a $2.5 million renovation program, which included constructing hall ramps, equipping bathrooms for the handicapped and installing two elevators to accommodate the disabled, according to middle school principal Nancy Sprague. All the improvements for the handicapped were required by regulations governing renovation of schools receiving federal funds. At one point, Hubble became concerned that one ramp might be a bit steep for his wheelchair. After trying the ramp several times and receiving some reassurance from Thayer, he left feeling confident that it was manageable. The next stop was a Giant Food store in Falls Church, where Thayer couldn't locate the special handicapped parking spot and curb cut, though he spotted it later. Meanwhile, a friendly Giant employe lifted Hubble's wheelchair over a four-inch curb. Inside, Hubble found he was limited to items on lower shelves and produce within an arm's reach, unless he asked for help. He was pleased, however, to find two specially marked check-out counters wide enough to wheel through. Hubble encountered his first real obstacle of the day at the Falls Church Post Office, which has no parking for the handicapped and no curb cuts for wheelchairs. "Uh-oh. Now what do you do?" asked one observer when he saw Hubble contemplating how to get over a five-inch curb. "That's what this day is about," Hubble said, after getting no offer of help from the observer. Hubble was able to negotiate the curb only after a lift-up from Beyer. Still, Hubble was bothered by the difficulties a handicapped person would have at the post office. "Isn't it Uncle Sam who makes the rules?" he asked rhetorically. "It was a federal rule that made us put elevators for the handicapped in the schools. But how do they expect a person in a wheelchair to get into the post office?" Hubble then talked to a post office supervisor, who assured him that plans to correct the problems were in the works. The next stop was the First Virginia Bank, only a block away. But after his difficulty with the post office curb and after figuring out that there were no curb cuts between the post office and the bank. Hubble decided his group had better drive the short distance. "Here in Falls Church, we're Scoth," he explained when asked about the low number of curb cuts in the city's sidewalks. "We're not ripping out curbs, but making curb ramps as we make needed repairs on them. But here in the center of town, maybe these [curbs] could use them." He made a note to check with the city planning commission about the situation, "now that I have personal experience." At the bank parking lot, Hubble suffered his only accident of the day when he aimed his wheelchair too sharply up the curb ramp and flipped over. In hhis first real "cheat" of the day, he quickly jumped up, unhurt, and hopped back into his wheelchair. By that time, Hubble had begun, to view physical barriers with a trained eye. "That ramp could have been designed better," he said. "But at least they have one."