The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Business

January 14, 2013

Madison County drafts plan to address disabilities concerns

ANDERSON, Ind. — Door handles that can be opened with a closed fist.

Government office counters where the wheelchair-bound can easily transact business.

And public meeting rooms with doors wide enough so those same people can enter without assistance and comfortably watch their government in action.

These are some of the changes that will make the Madison County Government Center more accessible under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), according to a draft “transition plan” written by the Madison County Council of Governments.

Madison County’s new plan to address ADA concerns is just one of 13 the regional planning agency has been working on since late 2011, said Planning Manager Allan Henderson. The agency prepared similar reports for every Madison County city and town, as well as Daleville in Delaware County, and Fortville in Hancock County.

Federal laws to remove barriers to public access have been in place since the early 1970s, and were strengthened with the enactment of new ADA requirements in 1990.

After an initial burst of activity, efforts to comply with the law have slowed in the intervening years, leading to some costly lawsuits brought against local governments. Other communities took notice and renewed efforts to meet the requirements, said Henderson.

The goal of ADA is to minimize or eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

Under the regulations, structural, architectural and communication barriers must be removed in public areas of existing facilities.

Modifications must be readily achievable, according to the plan, meaning they must be possible to carry out without unfair difficulty or unreasonable expense.

In addition to public buildings, the rules apply to parks, sidewalks, curbs and ramps, and pedestrian signals. All these facilities were assessed in the latest plan to determine what modifications will be necessary.

The plan identifies 10 facilities owned by the county that are routinely used by the public.

Priority 1 buildings are used by employees and have a high potential for public use. Priority 2 buildings are used by employees, but have only moderate potential for public use:

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