by Kim Brittenham
Having lived in Montpelier for 25 years and having a family member who now uses a wheelchair to navigate the downtown, accessibility is very important to me. Using a wheelchair in a northern city with historic stepped-entrance buildings is not easy and at times impossible. Luckily, I am not alone in my need to improve access and have had the opportunity to work with a few tremendous advocates and responsive city employees through service on the Montpelier ADA (Americans with Disabilites) Committee.
The city of Montpelier is committed to providing equal access to community members with disabilities. For the past four years, municipal staff and community members have been meeting monthly (the first Tuesday) at City Hall to identify ways in which Montpelier can meet its responsibility to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Since 2009, the Montpelier ADA Committee’s work has resulted in:
• appointment of a municipal ADA coordinator
• more wheelchair-accessible parking spaces downtown
• adoption of ADA grievance procedure
• recommitment to the ADA for 20th ADA Anniversary
• circulation of signboard and sidewalk display guidelines
• accessible bathrooms at the baseball field and city pool and at July Third celebrations
• amended ADA loan fund for businesses
• ADA-compliance assessment of all municipal buildings
• automatic doors and accessible book drop at the Kellogg-Hubbard Library
• training for public works staff at national ADA symposium
• policy for law enforcement working with people with disabilities
• emergency response planning
• improved auditory warning signals at main intersections
• updated draft ADA Transition Plan to monitor ADA compliance
• improved accessibility of city meeting agendas and minutes for people with visual impairments
• walk-through of downtown road construction areas with advocates and navigators for people who are blind
• assessment of Montpelier’s 25 miles of sidewalks, which will be used as a tool to prioritize and repair sidewalk segments (just completed this summer)
This list could be a lot longer! What do you want to access in Montpelier? Tell our city officials. Or better yet, become an advisor to one by serving on the ADA Committee.
The city is actively recruiting new members. People with disabilities are encouraged to apply. Nominees should send a letter of interest to Office of the City Manager, City Hall, 39 Main Street, Montpelier, VT 05602. For questions or to request a reasonable accommodation for the application process, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 223-9502.
Kim Brittenham is chair of the Montpelier ADA Committee.