‘We’re speaking about an individual’: The failing public entry for individuals with disabilities | Information

Williamsport, Pennsylvania – Just over 30 years after the American’s with Disabilities Act was passed, proponents say Lycoming County still has a long way to go in making it accessible to all residents.

The ADA compliance stopping process has not progressed fast enough for over 10% of people with disabilities in the county, and increased efforts in recent years have been aimed at highlighting flawed efforts by local governments, schools and employers.

Adequate arrangements such as access to government buildings and readily available assistive technology must be in place. Without them, members of this population cannot participate independently in community life – something local disability advocates and service leaders are determined to change.

“Without accessibility, there is no way for people with disabilities to fully integrate into society,” said Misty Dion, CEO of Roads to Freedom, the Center for Independent Living.

Dion has worked for CIL for 16 years, a nationwide, consumer-oriented agency that provides disabled people with a variety of additional benefits. When she became CEO of the Williamsport Chapter in 2015, her goal was to integrate both her employees and her customers into state and local government. Only then did she realize how many challenges people with disabilities were facing in the region.

The biggest problems? Accessibility, transportation and affordable housing – all of these affect the potential of having a permanent job.

Closing the gap

According to Chris Tsai, a professional rehabilitation specialist, employment is an important step towards independence, both in daily life and financially. She added that many people with disabilities often struggle with internal and external factors related to employment.

Overcoming the inner struggle after years of saying you can’t keep a job, you can’t live alone, you can’t do what the other kids are doing is a difficult barrier to break through.

Inadequate workplace accommodation makes removing these barriers difficult, Dion said.

“I think some of the biggest misconceptions are that people with disabilities cost more … that they are more of a liability, which is funny because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Typically, people with disabilities are insured, committed, or more committed than someone who can easily get a job. Most reasonable arrangements can be made for $ 50 or less. “

While the bulk of the backlash against the expansion of disabled accommodation is financial, some are simply due to a lack of understanding, says Dion.

For years, people with disabilities were kept separate, divided into life skills classes or institutionalized. To counteract this ignorance, CIL offers Project Able, an awareness program for public relations, with which people can “try on” a certain disability.

“It’s a great way for them to get a feel for some of the people they can interact with,” said Dion. “(It) increases your comfort and bridges this gap.”

Building access

When he was 9, Brain Patchett found that he could not read the blackboard from his seat in the back of the classroom.

Initially accepted as a simple case of myopia, his parents soon discovered that he had adolescent macular degeneration and that his eyesight would be severely impaired for the rest of his life.

Despite other students’ limited access to adaptive technology and stigma, Patchett earned a PhD and spent much of his adult life as a lawyer helping companies create adaptive systems for their employees.

Patchett, now President of North Central Sight Services, is investing in acquiring the necessary assistive technology and services for over 10,400 visually impaired people in Lycoming County.

Even today, many school districts do not have the technology to provide children with disabilities with access to the education of people with disabilities. He emphasizes the importance of getting everyone – educators, administrators, parents and students – on the same page.

“We’re trying to find ways to help everyone in this situation,” said Patchett. “How can we provide expertise and facilities to help schools and families?… How can we find great solutions that will help a child passing through school get the education they need to be truly confident and say, ‘I will be successful. ‘”

Change happens, but not quickly enough

While Patchett and Dion acknowledge the progress the government has made since the American With Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990, they both say we have many miles to go.

The building now known as City Hall, built in 1901, was purchased by Williamsport in 1977. Since then, numerous defects have accumulated in the building, estimated at almost $ 5 million.

In addition to many of the standard improvements to buildings, the provision of shelter for access to disabilities has been restricted …

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