Board of County Commissioners meeting. Presentation was on the new emergency preparedness kits that have been distributed to various Red Cross chapters and other public entities for the purpose of making emergency shelters more accessible for people with disabilities . ]]>
here. About The Independence Center The Independence Center is a local nonprofit organization that provides traditional and self-directed home health care, independent living, and advocacy services for people with disabilities. These services range from providing peer support, skills classes, and employment assistance to individual and systems advocacy. The IC’s mission is to work with people with disabilities, their families, and the community to create independence so all may thrive.]]>
The IC’s 2015 ADA Celebration
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was established in 1990 and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, in order to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities and ensure equal access, opportunities, and participation throughout America. 2015 marks the 25th Anniversary of the historical signing of the ADA.
The Independence Center came together with the local community to acknowledge and celebrate this amazing achievement for American Civil Rights. The ADA Celebration honored Colorado and El Paso County community companies, organizations, and government entities that have made strides to help the Pikes Peak Region become more inclusive for people with disabilities. It also served to communicate the importance of these basic human rights and the future direction for The IC’s advocacy issues.
A special thanks goes to El Paso County AND the City of Colorado Springs for having proclamations in honor of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, stating their continued commitment to complying with, and furthering, the Act. Merv Bennett, President of the Colorado Springs City Council, read the City’s proclamation at our annual event. And, Amy Lathen, El Paso County Commissioner, was representing at our annual event as well to represent the Board of County Commissioners’ ADA proclamation.
In addition, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, The IC presented awards to the City of Colorado Springs’ ADA Office, El Paso County’s ADA Office, Accessible Communities Today (ACT) coalition, First Congregational Church of Colorado Springs, and Discount Tire Store at Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard for complying with and furthering acceptance of the ADA. Read below for information about why each was honored with this award.
First Congregational Church of Colorado Springs was recognized for using capital campaign funds to add an elevator to the church, which also happens to be one of the oldest church buildings in the city, making these type of changes especially difficult. This elevator has allowed wheelchair access to areas of the building that were inaccessible before. Now, the entire building is 95% accessible. And what makes this even more special is that churches are exempt from having to comply with the ADA! Present at our annual event to accept the award were Reverend Dr. Benjamin Broadbent and Siri Everett.
The City of Colorado Springs was recognized for hiring an ADA Coordinator, Michael Killebrew, in March 2014. The City’s ADA office has also been installing a LOOP system in the City Council chambers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, conducting a self-evaluation of city operations, and has become one of the first cities west of the Mississippi to update the iconic person in the wheelchair symbol to a more action-oriented figure. Accepting the award were Michael Killebrew, Title II ADA Coordinator and Brett Waters, Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director.
Discount Tire Store at Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard was recognized for acting quickly to an inaccessibility complaint. Within a three-week time span, Discount Tire Store had a transformer relocated, the inaccessible stairs and curbs were jack hammered out and replaced with a beautiful accessible entrance, and then they poured a circular driveway to allow for easier access to the building! Accepting the award at our annual event were Pat Cary, Regional Maintenance Manager and Jim Douglas, Store Manager.
- El Paso County was also recognized for their efforts to further the ADA. Those present to accept the award were Rob Hernandez, ADA Coordinator; Jim Reid, Executive Director Public Services Department; and Amy Lathen, El Paso County Commissioner. Among their accomplishments are:
- Hired an ADA Coordinator, Rob Hernandez, in August 2014
- Added 3 videophones at the Criminal Justice Center and 6 more are in process for installation at 6 other county locations
- Established the El Paso County ADA Advisory Committee which includes 10 county members and 5 opinion leader members from the community, such as Accessible Communities Today (ACT) coalition and The Independence Center
- Completed a wheelchair accessible viewing area and other significant accessibility upgrades at the El Paso County Fairgrounds
- Instituted an online ADA grievance procedure
- Accessible Communities Today (ACT) coalition were recognized for their work with local businesses, agencies, and government entities to help collaborate, educate, and bring awareness to others on issues surrounding the Americans With Disabilities Act. Present to accept the award were Sharon King, John Monteith, Charles (Rick) Orthwein, and Dave May.
Video of The IC’s 2015 ADA Celebration
Mathew Ruggles using the video phone at The El Paso County Citizens Service Center.[/caption] The Deaf & Hard of Hearing program of The Independence Center is involved in making telephone communication more accessible to the deaf community in the Pikes Peak Region. Matthew Ruggles and Angela Tenorio, deaf and hard of hearing program staff at The IC, helped with testing the new video phones at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center in August 2015. Ruggles explained that the video phones help people with auditory disabilities have equal access to telephone communication. Video phones provide the ability for a person who is deaf to connect with a sign language interpreter via video. The interpreter then translates sign language to spoken voice to the person on the other end of the line. Phones are being installed in other El Paso County buildings such as the El Paso County Criminal Justice Center, the Citizens Service Center, and Department of Motor Vehicle locations. The IC continues to advocate for civil and governmental accountability with ADA compliance and is committed to providing expertise with disability access concerns when invited to assist by civil or governmental entities.]]>
was able assist in the process of purchasing the van. “It’s hard to get around the city without an automobile and it doesn’t help when the transit is so limited about where it can go,” Frank said. “Just getting in and out of an automobile is hard enough doing it all day it really wears you out.” With this van Frank has gained a little of his independence back and improved his quality of life as well. ]]>
“We bend over backwards on accommodating people, “said Andrew McAdam, Manager of Business Services at The Independence Center. “You need to respect everyone. And we need to be the place that starts that.”
How has the building become more accessible?
What we’ve done
How it helps
|Loop system||Makes the building environment easier to hear in for individuals with hearing impairments. The loop system was installed in the building, and a portable one was purchased as well, so we can go out in to the community and still maintain accessibility.|
|Accessible furniture||Desks with cranks allow for anyone in a wheelchair to adjust the height. All office chairs are fully ergonomic. Cabinets are lower, so wheelchair users can reach the top drawer.|
|Lighting||Installed all new fixtures in the building that provide a crisper light, making it easier for those with visual impairments to see.|
|Hallway width||We’ve maintained the width of the hallways, which are wide enough for 3 – 4 people to move through at once.|
|Lower wall fixtures||The light switches and thermostats are lower, so they are more accessible to everyone.|
|Flooring||The flooring installed in the building is specifically made to be durable, but very user friendly for those that are visually impaired so you won’t trip on it and it’s great for wheelchairs. Vinyl carpet was installed in all of the offices, which works well with wheelchairs as well.|
|Alert system||We created an alert system and speakers around the building so people that have hearing impairments can hear it in more places.|
|Clocks||There are high-contrast clocks in all offices, which are easier to read for those with visual impairments.|
|Hired a driver for our accessible van||This driver was hired to drive those who are unable to drive.|
In addition to these changes, The Accessibility Store experienced some change in this remodel as well.
In The Accessibility Store, we’ve increased the things that we sell to reach further in to each of the disabilities,” McAdam said. “So instead of just having a cane, now we we’ve got a cane and widget to go with it. We’ve increased the number of games in there as well. It’s not just functional how to live day-to-day; it’s also about how to enjoy life day-to-day. We go away from just the and expanded it in to how can you really enjoy life.”
The Independence Center is the hub of the disability community in this region, and our building should reflect that. Our building is a shining model for access and for accommodating our customers and employees who have disabilities.
Want to see more?
Check our Facebook for pictures from our BBQ, celebrating the conclusion of the remodel here.
Another act that focuses on voting is the National Voter Registration Act, which enhances voting opportunities for every American. The act has made it easier for all Americans to register to vote and to maintain their registration. Also known as the Motor Voter Act, it requires states to provide individuals with the opportunity to register to vote at the same time that they apply for a driver’s license or seek to renew a driver’s license. The act also requires all State-funded programs that provide services to individuals with disabilities to provide assistance to applicants with completing the forms and ensure that the forms are sent to the correct place.
In the past ten years, many people became aware of the inconsistencies and inequalities in the voting system. This heightened awareness resulted in the enactment of the Help America Vote Act in 2002. The purpose of the act is to make changes in the voting process (i.e., voting machines, voter registration, provisional ballots, training for polling place workers), to make voting as inclusive as possible, particularly for individuals with disabilities.
The history of the voting rights of persons with disabilities spans more than 40 years, and will continue to change. Exercise your right to vote.
For more resources for voters with disabilities, check out this website: http://www.eac.gov/voter_resources/resources_for_voters_with_disabilities.aspx