The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Opinion

January 22, 2013

Editorial: Handicap access plan is a good move by county

The Americans with Disabilities Act was designed to protect the civil rights of those with physical disabilities. Passed by Congress in 1990 and amended in 2009, one of the act’s provisions is to make government accessible to all.

To this end, the Madison County Council of Governments has released a new plan to make county government buildings more accessible to those with mobility concerns.

As The Herald Bulletin pointed out in its Jan. 14 article, door handles will be installed that can be opened with a fist. Wheelchair-users will be able to conduct business in county offices. And doorways in public meeting rooms will be wide enough that people in wheelchairs can come inside and watch their government in action, a right that most of us take for granted.

COG also designed plans for every town and community in Madison County so that access will truly be available to all. The modifications were recommended so as not to be a burden to communities in implementation or cost. It’s a long-term project with work to take place in phases at all county buildings.

County officials are currently accepting public comments as to the work required for the plan. After that, some of the comments will be included in the final plan that will be sent to the Board of Commissioners for approval.

This seems to be a very good plan. Being disabled does not lessen the citizenship of people. They have every right to participate in their government by attending meetings, questioning departments, paying their taxes and going to court, just like anyone else. To do this, however, there needs to be special accommodations and that’s where the ADA comes in.

No one should be left out or discriminated against because they have physical disabilities. Although, before 1990, many people with disabilities just lived with the fact that they couldn’t do as much as others. As with most things under the civil rights umbrella, it took some raising of awareness and speaking out before lawmakers got the hint that a segment of the population was being left out of its own government.

The Madison County Council of Governments is going a step further with its plan, which means those with disabilities will have better access than before. That’s a good thing. It levels the playing field and allows everyone to participate. That’s what our government is all about.

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