Tag Archives: accessibility

The IC Presents at Board of County Commissioners meeting February 9, 2016

Greg Monck, Emergency Program Coordinator at The Independence Center, presents at the February 9, 2016 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 .

Press Release: The Independence Center Presents Disability Access Kit to Colorado Red Cross Headquarters

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, November 23, 2015 – The Independence Center presented an Emergency Preparedness Access and Functional Needs Kit to the Colorado Red Cross headquarters on November 12, 2015. The kit contains over 45 accessibility items to assist seniors and people with disabilities with functional or access needs in an emergency evacuation shelter situation. Made possible by a grant from the Daniel’s Fund, The Independence Center is creating over 20 of these kits with an accompanying instruction manual. Each kit is valued at $1,300 and contains items to assist with eating/drinking, mobility, hearing/communication, low vision, service animals and facility barriers to accessibility. The kits are being distributed to Colorado Red Cross Chapters, county emergency preparedness managers and independent living centers.

“This kit of assistive devices will be invaluable when they set up an emergency shelter because these items are typically not provided, or quite frankly, even thought of,” Pat Going, contractor for The Independence Center said.

The Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires brought to the forefront the need for an understanding of accessibility for persons with disabilities. When persons with disabilities are evacuated from danger zones, significant accessibility and etiquette issues arise.

John Monteith, independent contractor for The Independence Center who created and assembled the kits stated, “Having a professional and personal perspective as an occupational therapist with a spinal cord injury, I can relate to how important these items are for helping those with access or functional needs while they are at a disaster shelter.”

The Independence Center has risen to the occasion to educate local officials and Red Cross staff with help from two grants, one from Disability-Benefit Support Contract Committee (DBSCC) and one from The Daniels Fund. The two grants worked synergistically; the DBSCC grant funded the production of a training video and The Daniels Fund grant paid for the creation of Emergency Preparedness Access and Functional Needs Kit to be given to all the Colorado Red Cross chapters.

The accessibility assessment and training video is available for viewing online 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 ADA Celebration 2015 Award Winners

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.

Award Winners

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.

  • Church

    First Congregational Church Awardees

    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.



  • City

    City of Colorado Springs Awardees

    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.



  • Church

    Discount Tire Store at Woodmen & Powers

    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:

    El Paso County recipients

    • 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

ACT Members accepting their award

  • 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

The IC Helps with Video Phone Testing for El Paso County

Mathew Ruggles using the video phone at The El Paso County Citizens Service Center.

Mathew Ruggles using the video phone at The El Paso County Citizens Service Center.

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.

Gaining Independence

The Independence Center and Friends of Man were able to collaborate to purchase an accessible van for Frank, a consumer of The IC. Frank had an automobile accident a little over a year ago and now is a wheelchair user.  With the Friends of Man, in addition to The Home Modification / Assistive Technology grant, The Independence Center Frank with his new van from The IC and Friends of Manwas 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.


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