Lawrence's city government is ahead of other Kansas communities in complying with a federal accessibility law and is looking to make life even easier for people with disabilities, an accessibility advocate said Tuesday.
Bob Mikesic, advocacy coordinator for Independence Inc., said the city's rapid efforts to install wheelchair ramps, upgrade playground equipment and modify elevators in government buildings indicated a strong commitment to the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
"And they're not just stopping with the minimum regulations, just to get by," said Mikesic, also the organization's ADA specialist. "They truly want to integrate with people with disabilities, and they're doing that."
This month, the city already has complied with a Jan. 24 federal deadline for completing a self-evaluation and transition plan. The plan was adopted three years ago, and is now complete.
Among the city's accomplishments:
- Installation of 250 sidewalk and alley ramps in the city, including 80 downtown. Total cost: $80,000.
- A new elevator installed in the building housing the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department and Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center.
- Accessible playground equipment purchased for Lyons, Hobbs and Clinton parks, plus equipment already installed at Deerfield and Broken Arrow parks.
There's still work to be done, said Tammy Bannister, management analyst in the city's public works department. A new curb plan must be adopted for the next three to five years, so that even more barriers will be removed.
Mikesic applauded the city's recent research for including a pool lift at the new pool planned for a new recreation center, tentatively set for Centennial Park.
"We want to get input from the people who'll be using it, and make it more comfortable," Bannister said.