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Thread: Americans with Disabilities Act

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Americans with Disabilities Act

    I found a website called EASI (equal access to software and information). They offer classes in “universal design” for websites and implementation of assistive technologies for the disabled. I have signed up for a free clinic and I am seriously considering taking 5 tuition-based classes with them to get a “Certificate in Accessible Information Technology”. This reminds me of an old thread on Cyburbia where someone asked about design for the “able disabled” on behalf of a partially disabled relative who can get around on his own if there are handrails but can’t if there are not.

    For those of you who have not already memorized my entire biography (from hearing it a zillion times), I am medically handicapped, I homeschool my special needs kids, one of whom has multiple “invisible” handicaps, and interest in what I have to say on the subject of homeschooling twice-exceptional kids led me to start a website. I have joined the e-mail list for EASI and posted an intro and some questions there. I know that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires cities to have sidewalks that are usable with wheelchairs and stuff like that. I am wondering if there are any existing educational programs dealing with such issues or design firms or something. I am wondering how cities address such things. Is there a special job just for addressing such things?

    I am really not sure where to start. I kind of wondered about this from the minute I saw the thread about ‘able disabled design’, which got very little response. It seems to be a very neglected area and I have years of experience accommodating handicaps (for myself and people close to me) in the face of little support from “society”. It might be an area I am uniquely qualified to offer consulting services in. But I have no idea what kinds of services the planning or design community needs in this regard.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Rem's avatar
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    MZ I think your main question is whether there is a market for consultant disability access experts. In Australia there is. We require expert advice for new projects (libraries, community halls, sports facilities etc) which is normally obtained by the project architect from a sub-contractor. Some firms have in-house expertise. We are statutorily obliged to provide non-discriminatory access to new facilities, though I would like to think we would be responsive to this objective without the legal imperative. The expertise used by the consutants is the knowledge of the legislative minimums, knowledge of compliant access solutions and personal knowledge of solutions that work and are supported by disabled people and those that are not. We also have a retro-fitting programme in place for older facilties.

    We also have a Disability Access Committee which is primarily made up of community or peak body representatives, mainly with a disability themselves. They review all proposals for new facilities and on major projects, they have workshops with the project architect. The Committee members are generally not academically trained (though at least one I am aware of runs an access advisory business and may have formal qualifications). The committee members rely on the sort of personal experience you describe for yourself and do a very good job for us.

    You may also be interested in our Disability Action Plan. The Committee had a big hand in its formulation. We have a single employee who is responsible for Aged and Disabled program delivery (it's a big job for one person but it isn't the only part of the organisation that runs lean).

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Thanks, Rem. I cannot recall hearing of anything that elaborate here in America. Would anyone like to tell me I am wrong and just clueless -- that we do the same kind of thing and I have just never gotten the news?

  4. #4
    The ADA requires the designation of an "ADA Coordinator" and the development of a "Transition Plan" that inventories non-compliance with the ADA and a schedule to remedy the non-compliance. Typically, the coordinator is in the law, engineering, or inspection department of the municipality. ADA originally included a housing element, but that was moved to the Fair Housing Act (another one of my uncompensated responsibilities!). There are employment requirements as well.

    My community did not respond in a timely manner to ADA implementation schedules and we have been investigated by the DOJ on at least two occasions. We entered into an "agreed order" to retrofit several facilities that were not accessible.

    As the Access Board constantly changes requirements, it is a frustrating process to be sure that public facilities are in compliance.
    On pitching to Stan Musial:
    "Once he timed your fastball, your infielders were in jeopardy."
    Warren Spahn

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Thanks. That gives me something to go on.

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