Panel hears report on Valparaiso’s compliance with ADA
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent October 17, 2012 9:12PM
Updated: November 19, 2012 3:14PM
VALPARAISO — The two-year review of the city’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act awaits approval from the Board of Works and Safety, along with the city’s transition plan.
Having plans in place will keep Valparaiso eligible for federal grants and funding.
The Mayoral Advisory Council on Disability got a review of the report Wednesday from Chicago area consultant Shelley Sandow.
Sandow said that although city workers may not know exactly what ADA requires, they often accomplished it by making accommodations to help customers, such as going to the other side of counters and helping with paperwork.
“There’s such a customer service ethic in Valpo compared to what I’m used to,” she said.
Most employees knew service animals could go anywhere but weren’t familiar with the Indiana Relay Service, which allows those with speech or hearing disabilities to use their TTY system to type to someone who calls businesses on their behalf.
The study looked at public spaces including parks, sidewalks and streets and each department’s policies, but private areas like firefighter’s sleeping quarters and closets didn’t need inclusion.
“A lot of people think the ADA only applies to buildings,” Sandow said. “But the ADA is also a civil rights law.”
City Hall won’t need an elevator if employees meet with people on the first floor, Sandow said.
She also provided a list of improvements, such as sidewalk ramps and placement of building signs for the blind.
City Planner Tyler Kent said Valparaiso will make improvements as it gets funding.
Also at the meeting:
Porter County Aging and Community Services announced it will again provide free transportation to anyone interested in attending the Nov. 1 annual meeting of public transportation providers at Purdue University Calumet. The meeting is from 1 to 4 p.m., and those needing rides should call 462-4302.
Public Works Director Matt Evans announced that the city is looking for more people who need help raking leaves because of age or disability. The city can handle 13 homes on Oct. 27 but has four, so those who need help can call Christine Hisick at City Hall, 462-1161.