Park Disabilities Task Force:
page is brought to you by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, the
HPKCC Disabilities Task Force and the other Hyde Park Disabilities Task
Force partners and by the HPKCC website, hydepark.org. Facilitators Lenora
Austin and George Rumsey.
links: Home. HPKCC
homepage. HPKCC programs home.
Accessibility Hot Topics. Hot Topics and Community Issues home.
June 2014. It appears the University of Chicago and its developer provided only the minimum required ADA at its stores (and perhaps the office building?) according to a resident of the DARE disabled residential housing who was unable to enter Porkchop and other establisments in wheel chair unassisted. The establishments lack the automatic doors provided in a growing number of modern retail and other facilities. This person and other advocates for persfons of didability in the neighborhood also noted they could not get around the outdoor cafe tables in wheel chair at Native Foods in Harper Court and at A10 on 53rd Street.
June 16 2012 "Walk and Roll: Sidewalk Survey of 55th Street,
From the Lakefront to Ellis Avenue."
Read the Report in pdf. (Note, only a few of the problems found have been addresed by the 5th Ward Alderman or by the city as of mid 2014, none were included in the participatory budeting choices of 2013 and only one in the simplified process of 2014).
From the HPKCC online e-Newsletter: Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference News:
The Disabilities Task Force is pleased to announce that the report Walk and Roll: Sidewalk Survey of 55th Street, From the Lakefront to Ellis Avenue, is available for reading. Find out what we encountered on 55th Street's sidewalks and crossings, and the "9 Critical Areas That Will Make a Difference." As George Rumsey, Task Force chair, says, "Fortunately, most of these problems can be solved at little cost (such as trimming low-hanging tree branches along 55th at Ellis, or replacing broken and corrupted ramp pads); others may be more difficult (such as the lack of any curb cuts or ramps on the south side of University Park). The two biggest problems identified by our participants are the bus shelters at 55th and Hyde Park, and the sidewalk on the south side of the street between Blackstone and Dorchester (where a close-off driveway or alley disrupts the sidewalk)."
The report has been sent to our elected representatives and to city departments and others. Please feel free to forward the link to anyone else you think would be interested. If you have any questions, please contact George, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find longer story in http://www.hydepark.org home
From release in Hyde Park Herald July 25, 2012. 55th Street report reviews access. By Daschell M. Phillips
The Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force released a report last week about the accessibility of street intersections, crosswalks and bus stops for the disabled on 55th Street.
On Saturday, June 16, the Disability Task Force -- which includes 25 members from groups including the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, the 4th Ward and 5th Ward organizations [offices], the Coalition for Equitable Community Development, the Older Women's League and Disabled Adult Residential Enterprises -- conducted a survey on 55th Street from the lakefront to Woodlawn Avenue.
The task force, which was formed in 2006 in response to report that a couple of restaurants in the community would not honor ADA requirement and refused service to a woman with a service dog, split up into four teams and used the ADA Accessibility Survey as a guide while they followed wheel chair and white-cane users through the neighborhood. The teams used maps, notebooks, cameras and tape measures to document the experience.
In the report, some minor problems identified included trees that needed trimming and worn and cracked curb mats, which are used to warn the blind that they are approaching an intersection, that need to be replaced.
According to the report, some of the most troubling problems identified by the wheel chair and white-cane participants include:
- Bus shelter on Hyde Park Boulevard at 55th street (going north). The shelter is positioned so that wheelchairs must go into the dirt when boarding a bus. The concrete pad could be easily extended.
- The closed-off alley/driveway intersecting the sidewalk near Dorchester avenue (south side of the street). This closed-of area is a nightmare of bad angles, brick pavers, and narrow access, which forced on wheelchair user into the street.
- Intersection 55th Street and Dorchester Avenue (north side of the street). The sidewalk and curb pavement on this corner is badly cracked and angled, and there are no curb mats or truncated domes.
- No curb ramps at all. There are no curb cuts or access ramps along the south side of University Park (between Blackstone and Dorchester avenues), nor are there curb ramps along the south side (entrance) to the Lutheran School of Theology between University and greenwood. These are both problematic, as there are ramps on the opposite sides of the street, which if an unknowing person were to use in an wheelchair, they would be stranded in the middle of the road.
"Fortunately, most of these problems can be solved at little cost, such as the trimming of low-hanging tree branches along 55th Street at Ellis Avenue, or replacing broken and corrupted ramp pads [but] others may be more difficult such as teh lack of any curb cuts or ramps on the south side of University Park," said George Rumsey, chairman of the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force and president of the Coalition for Equitable Community Development.
The report was released online at hydepark.org and distributed to the 4th and 5th offices, the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, the Governor's Office on Disabilities, the ADA, Health and Huyman Services, and local institutions who advocate for the disabled such as Access Living.
Rumsey said the taskforce is preparing for its next Walk and Roll sidewalk survey, which will take place in September. The teams will survey Lake Park Avenues, Cornell Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard between 53rd and 57th Streets.
CTA and PACE are complaining about the skyrocketing costs of paratransit, called unsustainable as seniors multiply inter alia. Some are being trained to use regular transportation. Customers complain about the unreliability of the service.
To the Task Force's
copies available from the Chamber
of Commerce or from George Rumsey of HPKCC.
Write us at email@example.com.
To the Disabilities-Accessible Sidewalks Cafes page.
The Disabilities Task Force has its web and web resources site and blog in that of D.A.R.E. (Disabled Assisted Residential Enterprises)-
http://www.hpdare.com. Also www.hydeparkchicago.blogspot.com.
If you'd like to participate in future Walk and Roll events, contact George Rumsey, firstname.lastname@example.org, and take a look at the Disabilities Task Force's blog on the Conference website.
Visit also Helpline. Community Resources. Government Services. Senior's and Other Tax Programs. Safe Traffic & Walks. Neighborhood Quality of Life. Affordability home and sub pages. Seniors Issues. Issues of accessibility are discussed passim in the pages on Promontory Point- from PP home and PP Latest.
Where to file a complaint of discrimination or non accommodation based on disability, such as violation of the ADA or Illinois Guide Dog Access or White Cane Law. See on Heating Cost Assistance in Helpline-Housing.
There is now a federal mandate that all schools comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Planned at Kenwood are upgrades to bathrooms, elevators, interior doors including hardware, signage, auditorium seating, locker doors, and fire alarm systems. Parking lots and exterior ramps will also be upgraded.
Meetings and hearings, contacts, quick bits
June 16, Saturday, 10 am-noon. A very successful "Walk and Roll" was held by Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force- Sidewalk Inspection. Thanks to everyone and to the DARE residents and facility. Next we will write a report highlighting priorities for the public, our officials and the city. Then plan the next walk.
Read Final Report in pdf.
Stay tuned for the next one looking at Lake Park, Cornell Avenue.
According to reports including on March 12, 2012 from FOX, Mayor Emanuel is supporting a bill introduced by Rep. Karen May in Springfield that would keep anyone other than those who could show they could not get to a meter/box or use it successfully after parking to park for free. That would leave just 700,000. In January city laws went into effect raising the penalties for abuse of hanging placards. How this is handled is a serious issue for those with disabilities. Passed!
AMAZING NEW WEBSITE OF ALERTS, TIPS, INSTRUCTIONS FOR WINTER AND SNOW SET UP BY CITY:http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/city/en/depts/mayor/snowportal/chicagoshovels.html
Marcia Trawinski held a seminar on ped safety and transit in winter for OWL in January 2012.
A group of Hyde Park residents (possibly parents of Akiba and other schools who got a new stop sign at Cornell?) (Yael Hoffman, Kelly King-O'Brien, Anne Renna, and Adi Rom) have been exploring with Ald. Burns options for improved pedestrian crosswalk safety. One device likely to be tried on 51st is spring-loaded signs in crosswalks. The group (not the alderman) is reluctant on red-light speed cameras, but remarked in a letter to the Herald that if drivers don't shape up and start following the new law or various devices work, the cameras are what the neighborhood is going to get.
Cornell-E. Hyde Park now have stop signs thanks to intervention of Ald. Burns.
Services’ Office on Disability & The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Conference Call about Medicare’s Annual Open Enrollment Period. Disability.gov
Monday, October 31, 2011 3:30pm-4pm ET Dial: 866-501-5502 Conference ID: 22833504 TTY: 1-800-855-2880
This year Medicare’s open enrollment period has changed. It began October 15, 2011 and will end December 7, 2011. But, it lasts 7 weeks longer than before! This gives people with disabilities and seniors more time to compare and find the best plan that meets their individual needs. This change also ensures that Medicare has enough time to process plan choices so coverage can begin on January 1, 2012.
Please join Henry Claypool, Director of the Secretary’s Office on Disability, and Jonathan Blum, CMS’ Deputy Administrator and the Director of the Center for Medicare, in a conference call to discuss Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, changes in Medicare Advantage and Part D plans for next year. They will also review information that consumers with disabilities, including those who have both Medicare and Medicaid, should consider when making health care plan choices and important changes to the Medicare program under the Affordable Care Act.
For more information about Medicare visit http://links.govdelivery.com:80/track?type=click&enid=bWFpbGluZ2lkPTE0ODc4NzMmbWVzc2FnZWlkPVBSRC1CVUwtMTQ4Nzg3MyZkYXRhYm FzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTEyNzY2ODM0NjMmZW1haWxpZD1zc3NpbHZhQGF0dC5uZXQmdXNlcmlkPXNzc2lsdmFAYXR0Lm5ldCZmbD0m
Youth with disabilities readiness, shadowing programs for 2010-2011- FLYER.
Persons with disabilities access to employment fair July 15. FLYER.
Some ADA remediation costs may be covered in the TIF District in the Small Business Improvement Fund program. See SBIF page.
Every July since 2004, Chicago has held the only Disability Pride Parade in the country.
"Disability pride represents a rejection of he notion that our physical, sensory, mental, and cognitive differences form the non-disabled standard are wrong or bad in any way, and is a statement of our self-acceptance, dignity and pride. "
Pending in the Senate, passed by the House is a Restoration act that would reverse a Supreme Court decision that ADA does not apply to "episodic" disabilities. Update on this needed.
The Hyde Park Older Women's League (OWL) meets 1st Sats. (except 2nd Sat. in June and not in July-Sept.) at 1 pm in First Unitarian Chris Moore Parlor, 5600 S. Woodlawn. To become involved in the Srs Friendly Community and Transportation-Ped-Disabilities committee, visit for contacts http://www.owlillinois.org/ch_hydepark.
Let's all play fair-- all groups interested in disabilities questions should be in the room, not just a few loud ones. And major changes or start of enforcement should be vetted in public meetings.
About the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force
The Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force is an informal collaboration of the 4th and 5th Ward aldermanic offices, HPKCC, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, Older Women's League of Hyde Park and Illinois and others listed in the box below.
Although it has not acted and met in concert for a while (except at HPKCC-convened joint meetings of HP civic organizations 2011 and 2012), individuals and member organizations continue to communicate with each other and to serve and advocate or (in the case of aldermanic aides, act in their capacities as employees of the City) on projects and on subject oversight groups such as the Curb Cuts and intersections committee of the Mayor's Task Force on Persons with Disabilities obtaining specific improvements that bring improvements to the whole community including seniors, whose interests often coincide with those of persons with disabilities or other-abled. One such action is forcing contractors to correctly redo intersection curb cuts. Another improvement is count-down pedestrian signals and timing changes at the Lake park and 53rd, 55th intersections. Cooperation from a number of city departments adn task forces has been most helpful.
The other main focus of the Task Force is ensuring recognition and awareness of the rights and the personal dignity of persons with disabilities and other abilities and of the Illinois cane/guide animal law and ADA and other legislation and regulations. This included preparation of a businesses packet by Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and visitation of businesses by teams recruited by the Task Force. See the Packet and full information about these matters in the Disabilities Business Packet page.
Goals for 2012 (from the HPKCC convened meeting for community civic organizations):
Expand the website (www.hydeparkchicago.blogspot.com) into an informational source including for example rental and owner buildings with elevator access.
Explore residential facilities for persons with mental or intellectual disabilities.
Monitor and challenge on commitment to accessible as well as affordable units in developments, esp. TIF-financed.
Survey in summer 2012 the "complete" streetways of 55th and of Lake Park including curb cuts, signal timing and car/ped periods, and feasibility and safety of proposed bike lanes. (A large recruitment including of school volunteers will be pursued.)
Take a closer look at the whole South Side bike lane program.
Monitor inpact of state funding on accessibility matters including home-helps.
Karen Robinson of D.A.R.E- lead
Fifth Ward, Alderman Leslie A. Hairston
Fourth Ward, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle
Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
Hyde Park Older Women's League including Senior Friendly Community Committee
South East chicago Commission
University of Chicago Police Department
Chicago Police Department 21st District
HP Disabilities Task Force liaison to Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities: Karen Robinson.
HPKCC liaison: George Rumsey, email@example.com, 774 955-4455.
Watch here for announcement of the next meeting of the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force. (August 10, 2 pm, Hyde Park Bank). Or contact Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference at firstname.lastname@example.org, 773 288-8343 or George Rumsey email@example.com 773 955-4455, Chamber of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org 773 288-0124, 5th Ward Service Office, 773 324-5555.
If you would like to be involved or your organization would like to join or receive access to the listgroup, contact George Rumsey at email@example.com.
August 7 2009. Will paratransit be priced out of site or crash? With RTA unable or unwilling to find new funds, Metra, CTA unwilling to pony up for the up to 30 million shortfall and legislators saying not us, and PACE forbidden to increase funds, it looks like the cost per ride will become at least $3, maybe more region wide. Prices in different jurisdictions now range from $2.25 to 3.
Rep. Barbara Currie meets with DARE facility residents in July 2011 about state cuts
Currie asked residents, management, and Access Living experts for specifics on which cuts hurt residents and/or the viability of such facilities the most and how/why. Among facts is that those who don't apply for various benefits as early as possible are likely to be left out when the "money runs out" later in the fiscal year at agencies. Some of the cuts were agreed to be pound-foolish, in that if residents miss qualifications or money benchmarks, they have to throw themselves on the state and go to nursing homes, thwarting state policy for community-based living. Currie urged residents to write letters with their specific problems and gather petitions and work with Access Living. The best she could offer was to look for additional moneys in the fall.
From the Older Women's League Summer Fest 2009
Principal speaker Maurine Schenburger of the City of Chicago pedestrian program described the many services and protections/rights of seeing impaired persons, including those (and other-impaired) with service animals.
She then dealt with the vexing problem of snow removal in sidewalks, crosswalks and curb and to-door access, and the responsibilities of both residents an business owners/operators. She read from printouts of the City ordinance on the same (available from the city) and a doorknob hanger that is also available including through the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. (The latter, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, OWL, and likely the Disabilities Task Force are gearing up to distribute these, get out the word on calling 311 (which has a code on snow removal) to get snow and clearance where access is blocked on public way, and police removal. A community meeting is also being considered.)
Ms. Schenburger also gave information and led discussion on bicycle safety- for bicyclists and for those they encounter, including on approved safety and warning gear. This is also likely to be a major focus in conjunction with University orientation et al of the named organizations this fall. At the August HPKCC board meeting, all emphasized that the approach has to be comprehensive- safety and thoughtfulness for all using the public way.
Updates August 2008 and later. See also Gains over the Past Decade in HP.
The Task Force met August 10, 2008 and made assignments concerning sorting and updates and potential revisits to Hyde Park businesses concerning treatment and rights of persons with disabilities, service animals, appliances, and ease of navigating. Also, further re: examination of intersections (including those recently upgraded), curb cuts and sidewalks, and what might be done about problems with bicycle interface, including emphasis on laws and etiquette at UC Orientation.
Here is the Herald coverage of August 20, 2007? by Crystal Fencke. Disabilities task force trying to make Hyde Park accessible
On any given day on a Hyde Park street, you may spot two women- one with a beautiful Black Labrador Retriever service dog- in front of businesses, handing out pamphlets to the owners. These activists are the leader[s] of the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force and a member of the 5th Ward Office.
After a year-long hiatus, on Sunday August 10 the task force resumed regular meetings. For two years, the 20-member group, led by Karen Robinson, has been promoting neighborly and law-abiding behavior regarding the needs and rights of the community's disabled and senior populations.
Robinson and Sue Purrington of Ald. Leslie Hairston's (5th) office, and others in the task force, seek out businesses in order to make them aware of federal laws regarding [the] Americans with Disabilities Act. They hand out informational pamphlets they put together along with the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference, said George Rumsey, [president] of HPKCC.
Robinson, who is visually impaired, has had the aid of a service dog for 4 years. She received her initial diagnosis that she was losing her sight in 1991. Currently, she can see shadows and light, but her doctor has told her that within a few months she could become totally blind.
The task force began in August, 2006, said Robinson, as a response to a widely publicized action against her in a local restaurant. "I walked into the store and immediately told the dog to find a seat, as I always do. I immediately put him underneath the table," she said. However, in a moment the manager of the shop told her to remove the dog, she said. After Robinson told her to remove the dog, she said. After Robinson told him that it's a federal law to allow a service dog into the store, he in turn told her that he has the right to deny service to any patron.
That one restaurant isn't the only business that has cause Robinson trouble, she said. She has also had a problem with another restaurant on 55th Street. "They're always yelling at me to get the dog out of there," said Robinson. Mitesh Patel, the owner and manager of that franchise, acknowledges at least one instance when an employee told a patron with a service dog to leave the store. "We had a complaint, and my employee didn't know to welcome the dog," Patel recounted of an incident that occurred a year and a half ago, he said. "After that when I hire an employee, I make sure he knows", said Patel.
Issues the group is looking into nw include various businesses. The new fine dining restaurant, Park 52, seems to have caused a challenge for one long-time Hyde Park resident. Jane Comiskey said her husband, Jim, have dined at the destination, owned by Jerry Kleiner, a few times. Jim prefers using a wheelchair due to discomfort from rheumatoid arthritis.
Comiskey said her husband had a hard time entering the men's room in Park 52 because he didn't find it wide enough to fit t he wheelchair. "The manager knew this, as she suggested he go into t he ladies' room and had someone outside the door to watch it," said Comiskey. Kleiner said that he had never heard of that happening at Park 52. His restaurant was built according to city of Chicago building code requirement, he said. "The city doesn't pass you if you don't do what they tell you," he said.
Daisy Gressel of the task force said they also want to change attitudes. She said having a service dog ordered out of a store is unhospitable and make those with disabilities feel unwelcome.
Beyond "senior friendly": World Health Organization study on age friendly cities and active aging in cities, 2009
Factors to look at: economic, social, health and social services, physical environment, behavioral, personal
Components: transportation, housing, social, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and engagement, communication and information, community support and health services, and outdoor spaces and buildings.
The key phrase is life-enablement, beyond senior friendly, elder friendly, or barrier friendly. To get there, we have evaluate and ensure:
truly barrier-free buildings and streets
community support and health services
ways to allow people to work or volunteer
Remember that as people age their abilities diminish-- and the range of capacity to live well within any demographic or age group broadens dramatically. Those who stay on the "able" side of the bar need ways to maintain their independence and prevent disability, those more on the "disabled" side need means to rehabilitation if possible and stabilization, and above all ensuring dignity and quality of life.
In November 2006 there was a City Council joint committee hearing (the second) on achieving infrastructure that meets needs of all including persons with disabilities--including sidewalks, curb cuts, count-down crosswalk signals, traffic light timing, and specific intersections. Note the issued new city Complete Street policy on accommodation, which follows upon a major lawsuit settlement on city ADA infrastructure accommodation. Ask the 4th or 5th Ward Office to put you on a list to be notified about hearings-773 324-5555.
Sidewalks mostly fixed and upgraded for ADA: the second pass at doing it right was largely finished in 2009.
On June 17 2008 the Bush Administration issues new ADA rules called "Freedom Initiative" for a 60-day comment period. Some say they go too far, others not far enough.
According to the Tribune, they would give greater access's to court rooms, recreational facilities and more, affecting over 7 million businesses and all state and government agencies. Some would set more stringent requirements, others would address some issue for the first time, or decrease grandfathering and exemptions. The rationale is the aging of the population and growing number of disabled war veterans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 51 million Americans have some form of disability- nearly 2/3 of them with severe impairment.
Affected are such matters as height of light switches in hotel rooms, height of retail counters, improved availability of monkeys and other service animals, and lifts or ramps at courtroom witness boxes and auditorium stages to new swimming pools of over 300-feet perimeter, and a specific number to theater seats for wheelchair users.
To read the new rules: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/freedominitiative/freedominitiative.html
From the April 2007 Conference Reporter. Picture: Members of the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force meet on April15 to plan new activities for promoting disabilities awareness and compliance in Hyde Park, with a second round of business visits for June. The group was pleased to learn about the new audible traffic lights planned for 55th and Lake Park.
Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force Letter, Hyde Park Herald and the community, April 18, 2007. See Defender article following.
Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force
5211 South Harper, Suite D,
Chicago, Illinois 6037
773 363-4368, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Web info at www.hydepark.org
April 16, 2007
Brian Wellner, Editor
Hyde park Herald
Since last November, the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force has been visiting neighborhood businesses to educate them about their responsibilities regarding people with disabilities. In most instances, our members were warmly received by managers and staff with positive attitudes.
however a small number of local businesses were indifferent or actively insulting towards the issue, and those businesses should be warned to prepared for a second set of interaction with our group.
Discrimination takes many forms. Refusing to serve a person in a wheelchair or with a service animal is an obvious form. But so is hassling a handicapped person, or laughing and making fun of a person's handicap. So is having a store or business that is not reasonably accommodating and safe for a person to enter.
Penalties for failure to comply with the law can be as much as $55,000 for a first notice and up to $100,000 for each subsequent notice (www.ada.gov). The Disabilities Task Force is encouraging those who are discriminated against not just to complain, but to complain through their lawyers. Discrimination in any form should not be tolerated.
George W. Rumsey, President, HPKCC
Lenora Austin, Executive Director, HP Chamber of Commerce
Sue Purrington, [5th] Ward
Karen Robinson, advisor, Mayor's Council on Persons with Disabilities
Defender article, April 25, 2007 on our task force and problems encountered even by our members
Disabled residents test Hyde Park businesses
by Tiffany Teasley
Apr 24, 2007
When Vicki Suchovsky, a disabled Hyde Park resident, went to pick up some groceries and a gallon of milk last week, she faced a rather sour situation.
Suchovsky, 55, suffers from generalized arthritis, had both knees replaced and uses a motorized scooter, but when she was unable to empty her groceries from her basket at Village Foods grocery store, 1521 E. Hyde Park Blvd., the cashier was noticeably hostile.
“She was rude and disrespectful,” Suchovsky said. “I have never been treated that way before.”
This is one of two incidents within the past two weeks where Hyde Park businesses have responded negatively to disabled residents, according to the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force. The group emerged after a 2006 incident when Karen Robinson, a blind woman, was denied service at a Hyde Park Dunkin' Donuts because of her service dog, which she uses to navigate the community.
Since December 2006 the task force has visited nearly 200 area businesses to assess amenability to disabled customers and to distribute information on adequately accommodating their needs.
Suchovsky sees the need for such information in Hyde Park. She lives with her daughter, but sometimes has to complete daily activities on her own. While she has lived in the neighborhood for only two years, she said that disability awareness among area residents is horrible.
“It’s just a basic lack of respect from the community; I’ve never seen the likes of it,” Suchovsky said.
Village Foods store manager Eric McCrary said staff training includes disability awareness education, and employees regularly help blind and disabled customers in the store, but he was not familiar with the April 15 incident.
The task force's three-month-long assessment has led it to probe seven area businesses, including Village Foods, that they deem indifferent and insulting regarding their customer service policies and awareness of the needs of the disabled.
“The goal is to test them,” said task force member and Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference President George Rumsey. “They had better be very nice to anyone with any handicap who goes in there.”
Complaints could be filed for further action under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The task force was formed by Ald. Leslie Hairston's 5th Ward office, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, and has since partnered with several other local organizations.
“A couple of incidents made us feel a need to get more involved to see what we can do about alleviating these issues,” said Lenora Austin of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. “As any changes are proposed for the area, the information is given to the task force and their input is taken into consideration.”
Austin said the main concerns of disabled residents are access to doorways and aisles, customer service and service dog rights.
Discrimination based on disability is banned under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and can result in a $55,000 fine for the first violation and $110,000 for all subsequent violations.
While the task force has yet to compile actual evidence of noncompliance with the law in the seven businesses, they emphasize that bad customer service and negative attitude towards the disabled are instances of discrimination.
The task force is planning a second meeting with the seven businesses in question, based on the results of the first assessment. The disabilities task force meets again on June 10 at 2 p.m. at the Hyde Park Bank, 1525 E. 53rd St.
Disabilities Task Force reports from the HPKCC Conference Reporter 2007 Issue 4, December
Disabilities Task force Educates Local Businesses
Don't be surprised if you notice an increase in the number of wheelchairs and service animals on the sidewalks of Hyde Park. It may just mean that you're seeing the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force in action.
The Task Force was formed as a result of Hyde Park residents being refused service at local restaurants. At the instigation of the 5th Ward Service Office, the 5th Ward, the 4th Ward, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, and HPKCC jointly sponsored an educational community forum on "People with Disabilities: Our Rights and Responsibilities."
Invited speakers were Alderman Leslie Hairston, 5th Ward; Alderman Toni Preckwinkle, 4th Ward; Karen Robinson, DARE; Retired Circuit Judge Nicholas T. Pomaro, Director, Legal Clinic, Chicago Lighthouse; Bill Jurek, Guiding Eyes for the Blind; Karen McCulloh, Executive Director, disabilityworks, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce; Earl Jordan, Illinois One Stop Center; Mike Sentino, DARE; Lenora Austin, Executive Director, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce; and George W. Rumsey, HPKCC.
Following the community forum, the sponsors agreed to form a Disabilities Task Force to address concerns and needs in this community. Since its start, the Task Force has been joined by the Hyde Park Older women's league (OWL), the South East Chicago Commission, the University of Chicago Police department, and the City of Chicago Police (21st District).
The mission of the Task Force is to educate the residents and businesses of Hyde Park-Kenwood as to the needs, rights, and concerns of our disabled and senior populations. It further seeks to promote and encourage responsible neighborly behavior in regard to these issues.
Members of the Task Force testified at City Council hearings in October about needed changes at dangerous intersections in Hyde Park (such as 55th and Lake Park). Member have also engaged the Chicago Public Schools about failure to provide adequate disability access at some neighborhood schools.
The Task Force decided to make sure local businesses were fully informed about their responsibilities to disabled customers (such as penalties of $55,000 for failure to comply with ADA. The Task Force assembled a dozen pairs of disabled/non disabled volunteers to visit businesses in Hyde Park, starting with 53d Street. (Team members representing the Conference are Vicki Suchovsky, Julie Monberg, Judy Dupont, Jane Comiskey, and Lesley Bloch.)
The teams ask to speak with a manager, explain who they are, present a 4-page handout on ADA and disabilities (with emphasis on businesses, service animals, Illinois White Cane Law, and tips for appropriate etiquette for handicapped customers). Finally, each team records a brief evaluation of the business and its attitude for potential future follow up.
When this survey is completed, the Task Force has other plans, such as to document (digitally) major sidewalks problems that present an impediment to mobility. Another goal is to conduct a bicycle "good behavior" campaign, educating the neighborhood's bicycle riders about Illinois law and right-of-way issues with pedestrians.
To join the Disabilities Task Force, contact George Rumsey at email@example.com, Lenora Austin at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sue Purrington at email@example.com.
OWL Holds Forum on Disabilities Issues
On November 4, Judy Roothaan and Hyde Park OWL hosted a forum on disabilities with the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force. Invited panelists were Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th); Lenora Austin, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director; George Rumsey, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference; and Earl Jordan, Illinois Jobs One stop.
George Rumsey described the causative spark for and the background of the Task Force and reported on the initial forum. Rumsey said that founder Karen Robinson has been recently asked to remove her service dog from two additional establishments. He concluded that it is necessary to educate the business owners, as well as their employees.
The business education program was discussed and refined, including packets, signs, and plans for decals that can be displayed. The message the signs are to give is "we comply with the..." Alderman Hairston left no doubt she intends to put pressure on businesses that do not comply. The Chamber and the Conference have a already mailed a letter to businesses; then, starting November 15, teams of 2 (disabled and regularly-abled) will each contact a number of owners with a packet of educational materials. There will also have to be a way to get the word out to customers to expect to see service dogs in stores, restaurants, et al.
During discussion of future Task Force "fronts" (sidewalks-intersections-cuts, then bicycle-pedestrian interface), it became evident people with many concerns would like to piggyback on the needs of persons with disabilities on behalf of the elderly and hard of sight or hearing. Indeed everyone suffers from bad walks and mistimed intersections. "Making Hyde Park a caring and safe, user-friendly community for everyone" could be the model. People also said the Task Force needs to look into and promote Universal Design.
Alderman Hairston announced that audible countdown signals will be installed at 55th and Lake Park now. Redesign of the intersection will be studied. The Task Force will next look at other intersections and interfaces, especially on Lake Park and its adjacent Metra viaduct areas, then at other walks. The Department of Transportation visited Lake Park/55th with the Mayor's Office on People with Disabilities. They are both very helpful. The alderman did say infrastructure funds are very limited--maybe neighborhood institutions can chip in. A traffic study is underway for 56th and Lake Park--a signal light is under consideration. She noted that the city has to re-do all the public curb cuts not done correctly. She was asked how we can get drivers to honor the law and common sense on stops, red lights, turning (including further restrictions on turn-on-red), and speeding. She asked us to write Metra about replacement of bad South Chicago branch crosswalks in South Shore.
Concern was expressed about erratic snow and ice removal. The city and other government and institution plows frequently leave big banks, especially at crosswalks. Persons called for snow removal funded by the TIF or a parking improvement district. Specifically mentioned were the University's alumni center (56th and Woodlawn) and Walgreen's/Lake Park-55th at Lake Park (also in parks).
Persons said we have to plan to help the disabled incase of disasters large or small. Others said a quick target for results would be to ask the banks and other businesses that use lines to provide places for people to sit.
Rumsey suggested alliances with similar groups in neighboring communities, and said this Task Force is being looked at as a pilot by the city, some other neighborhoods, and disabilities organizations such as Chicago Lighthouse. Rumsey said we have to focus first on physical disabilities issues, those on which we can win tangible results.
Members said the task force might prepare materials on what makes for good or poor compliance and then commend businesses that are really helpful and creative, or that make changes for the disabled (including anyone with physical limitations).
From the President's Desk...[disabilities wake-up]
I like it when the Conference helps accomplish something useful to the community. In this issue you'll see results from our forum on the future of the Co-op, and the wide-ranging opinions on what is best for its future. You'll read articles about plans for 53rd street, both retail and parking (albeit Harper Court remains an unresolved issue).
But what I'm personally very proud of is the activities of the newly formed Disabilities Task Force. I find it incredible that, in 2006, it is still necessary to tell a business owner that a person with a service dog or in a wheelchair deserves the same service and treatment that anyone else receives.
And yet, I have heard that three local restaurants have refused service to a blind neighbor because she had a guide dog. How can that be?
If you, like me, own a business, you really need to educate yourself about the law. Failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act can result in an initial penalty of $55,000; additional infractions cost $110,000 each, plus damages. And federal law, such as ADA, specifically states that it overrides local laws (such as Cook County health codes that might prevent animals in a restaurant).
The U.S. Department of Justice maintains a very informative website on disabilities at www.ada.gov. Their toll-free number is 800-514-0301. The Illinois Attorney General also has local guidelines online, at http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/rights/. If you are confused or unclear on how to respond appropriately to people with disabilities, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and educate yourself.
Here are some basic rules: (1) You cannot require an ID card for the animal or ask about the person's disability. (2) You cannot charge an extra fee. (3) You cannot ask the person to remove the animal unless it poses a direct threat to the safety of others. (4) Allergies and fear of animals is not a valid reason for denying access. (5) Businesses that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas. (6) Violators of ADA can be required to pay money damages and penalties. Know the law... and be a good neighbor.
Gains over the past decade
Voice activated traffic lights are now in action at 55th and Lake Park, not far from disabilities housing. It says "Walk sign, 55th Street" or Lake Park from the moment the walk sign goes on until it switches to w the amber countdown. Each direction has a different length based on tests. It's one of three in the city. Ald. Hairston said she seeks an audible countdown as well.
The project groups are already in motion: educating businesses on the guide dog law and identifying barrier sidewalks and intersections. On the former, see announcements above.
The Task Force met April 15 2007. The Task Force reviewed business response to the teams and started preparing "second visits." Ways to addresses repeat poor experiences by persons with disabilities, at certain businesses, was considered. A letter to the Herald (see below) was approved. Audible countdown signal to be installed at 55th St. and possibly other intersections were discussed. The Task Force will have outreach tables and likely a sign or banner at various festivals and public events. Some future amenities to be sought include portable ramps and universal design. Queries were raised about degree of commitment to access at various institutions and how to approach them. Next meeting June 10.
The Disabilities Task Force is composed or affiliated so far of
4th Ward Office and Alderman Preckwinkle, point person ?? Holmes
5th Ward Office and Alderman Hairston, point person Sue Purrington
DARE Assisted Housing
Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce
Hyde Park Cooperative Society (Co-op)
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
Mayors Council on Persons with Disabilities
Older Women's League (OWL)
Illinois Employment One Stop on Cottage Grove,
South East Chicago Commission
University of Chicago Police
Chicago Police Department 21st District Community Policing
Evolving mission and motto: A community that is caring and safe for all
In February 2007, the committee was evaluating, preparing report and considering next steps from the business visitation. Photographing and documenting "most obstructive sidewalks," and planning the next meeting are starting.
Order of First Priorities:
Business education: Chamber sends letter to businesses about white cane and other required accommodations and to expect a team to visit. Teams will have a disabled person to explain the problems, and if possible help identify accommodations that either are required or might be considered. Discussion will be held with each business; a packet will be left and signs will be left for store windows (and the Chamber will follow up on display) and possibly decals for door. The project went live in late November 2006. We expect a report to the community early in the year to be put up in this website.
55th-Lake Park intersection
Project to identify walks, cuts, intersections needing attention, starting with the key business streets.
(Spring?) An approach to bicycle-pedestrian (and auto-pedestrian) etiquette, interface/interactions.
The City of Chicago issued a Complete Street interdepartmental policy directive October 10 which follows up on a settlement. Text.
Alderman Hairston was going after CPS over long failure to provide access ramps at Bret Harte School, 1556 E. 56th. There is no wheelchair access or lift. Disabled parents have to meet with teachers et al in the schoolyard. Hairston told the Disabilities Forum Sept. 6 and the Herald, "This is an important issue that affects everyone." "Hosting a meeting in the playground is absurd... [CPS] called my office after 4 p.m. on the Friday before Labor Day holiday and left a message that getting access was not going to happen." CPS spokesman Mike Vaughan told the Herald, "With our limited budget and over 600 schools in the district--many of which date back to the early 1900s--we are working as fast as we can to bring all those schools into ADA compliance." But CPS this year is cutting $23 million from Special Education."
At its October Local School Council meeting, the principal announced that Bret Harte will be installing a lift at the north wing entry (near where conferences with parents are most likely, there are fewer sets of steps and stairs, and which is easier to retrofit). There are steep (including literally) structural difficulties with further accommodation, principal Shenethe Parks noted. The school truly wants to serve its students, parents, users and publics. Mike Vaughn of CPS said they are working on it, but can only do so much with a limited budget.
The Herald said on the issue September 20:
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) in particular is taking Chicago Public Schools to task over the lack of wheelchair access at Bret Harte. After two years of talking about it, Hairston expected COS to have had the problem fixed by the start of school. That didn't happen, and wheelchair-bound parents have to continue meeting with their children's teachers on the playground outside the school. How degrading!
The excuse given to the parents by CPS, as stated in last week's Herald is that a "limited budget" is keeping Harte from being compliant with the 16-year-old Americans with Disabilities act. In 16 years, CPS couldn't make Harte ADA compliant? Access to the school for parents, students, faculty and staff should be a priority. Hairston raised the issue at the Sept. 13 city council meeting in the form of a resolution. In the meantime, CPS is saying it can do nothing to assist the Harte community.
Alderman Hairston introduced a resolution at the September 13 City Council meeting calling for the city to conform to the law and get up to speed providing accessibility for people with disabilities. She called for countdown traffic lights and fixing uneven sidewalks that tip wheelchairs. The ordinance was filed with the Transportation Committee, which usually buries things. See in announcements, above, re: a probable November joint committee hearing.
Co-op drafts disability resolution (and hops on board the task force). Herald, October 11, 2006. By Kathy Chaney
The Hyde Park Co-op is showing that it is on board with the mission of the Disabilities Task Force, a community-wide initiative, by showcasing their own disability resolution in their monthly newspaper.
James Withrow, a Co-op board member, said his initial plan was to put a sign in the window letting everyone know that service dogs were welcome at both Co-op locations. After discussing it with other board members, Withrow said, "The entire board felt that it would be better to put something in the Evergreen," the Co-op newspaper.
"The Co-op has consistently allowed service dogs to enter and the Customer Service desk provides additional assistance. The Co-op further promises to work with the task force on disabilities to educate business owners and shoppers about this important issue," said a statement Withrow submitted to the Evergreen.
Withrow will also represent the Co-op at task force meetings. The Task Force was formed in response to the Hyde Park Community Disabilities Forum on Sept. 6. It will be made up of representatives from the 4th and 5th Ward aldermanic offices, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and local volunteers.
"I think it's a good idea," said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle (4th) of the Co-op's efforts. [The 4th Ward has joined the Disabilities Task Force.]
The next step for the Co-op and other businesses, is to invite a delegation including people with various abilities and disabilities to survey and make suggestions to improve access to and within the business facility. Next set of steps is to accelerate action on walks and intersections, then bike-pedestrian interface.Top
Complete Street: The regional planning agency's Soles and Spokes division sent out notice of the following City of Chicago notification of policy on total accommodation on the public way:
The City of Chicago released a landmark Complete Streets Policy Oct. 10, mandating for the first time that all transportation users must be accommodated in all transportation projects. According to a multi-agency document issued by the city, the policy is expected to be implemented in a variety of ways advocated by Chicagoland Bicycle Federation and its Healthy Streets Campaign. The policy calls for pedestrian improvements like bulb-out curb extensions for crosswalks, countdown crossing signals, median refuges, and re-timing signals to minimize pedestrian delay and conflicts. To read more, visit
www.biketraffic.org/content.php?id=1024_0_16_0_C. And visit the AARP website.
Note that while the Task Force plans to address problems of bikes on sidewalks, rushing turns or through at intersections and without safety and warning gear, bike groups seem more interested in their interactions with cars and seek more bike trails along streets. See in Bike and City Bike Plan page.
From the mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Council presentation April 23, 2009. (T.Y. Lin, CDOT)
What: Designed, operated, maintained so they are safe, comfortable and convenient for all users- pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users and motorists of all ages and abilities. Too many streets are built without the minimum accommodations, signing, or striping. Americans want to walk and bike more--55% prefer; 33% don't drive. 30% don't own a car; 21% are over 65; there are the children and Americans who cannot afford autos or choose not to have them. Yet many streets are not complete: sidewalks and crosswalks are nonexistent, out of code or in disrepair, streets uninviting to bicyclists, difficult to t cross on foot, or even inaccessible, have construction zones that don't take into account pedestrian challenges.
Policies. Design, operate and maintain the entire right of way to ensure safety and accessibility for all users.
"The safety and convenience of all users of the transportation system, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motor vehicle drivers, shall be accommodated and balanced in all types of transportation and development projects and through all phases of a project, so that even the most vulnerable - children, elderly, and persons with disabilities - can travel safety within the public right-of-way."
Why a policy? To update practices, integrating the needs of all street users into all phases of a project. To ensure every project becomes an opportunity to help create a complete street; to bring an overarching vision and consistency to disparate departmental approaches; To improve departmental efficiency and streamlining. Scope of Work:
Input from a steering committee (CDOT divisions, OEMC Operations, Community Development, Zoning and Land Use).
Interviews with key stakeholders (CTA, MOPD, D of Envir, Mayor's Bicycle Advisory, CMAP, Police, IDOT bureaus).
Prepare Preliminary Report of practices and recommendations on improving city processes, design manuals, education and training:
Prepare Final Implementation Process Report (issue-obstacles-opportunities, incorporate feedback and project audits, a checklist to be use in all projects all phases, recommend changes to standards-policies-practices-education.
Conduct audits of recent projects-- were all user's needs accommodated?, review of preliminary planning documents, field visits, field reviews.
Steps backward dept. PACE raising fees for para transit- and no public accountability?
Reduced fare for para transit services now goes from $175 to $2.25 and cab from $1.75 to $5 . The agency, which provides all the disabled service in the Region, is allowed to increase charges up to 2 times the basic fare. There were strong protests at October hearings . In addition, the calling system is acknowledged by PACE to be screwed up - 3 different numbers. Ald. Hairston calls this horrible.
People with serious disabilities, especially with families and on assistance, assert that affordable housing is not good enough-- it has to be subsidized to keep it at or below 30% of income. This is rare.
For the third time, Karen Robinson was in spring 2007 nearly denied access with her service dog to the McDonald's on Lake Park.
Report on the September 6 2006 disabilities forum
In response to denial of service at restaurants and police lack of knowledge of the law, Alderman Hairston (5th), Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, and Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce held a forum for the public and businesses September 6. A report will appear here, as well as an expanded resource link section.
A task force is in formation on all aspects of the needs of persons with disabilities and other access impediments in the neighborhood. Call Sue Purrington at the 5th Ward Office, 773 324-5555 or Lenora Austin at the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, 773 288-0124. Please note that this task force will have full participation from Ald. Toni Preckwinkle's (4th) Ward Service Office.
At its October Board meeting, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference approved joining the Task Force and considering it a committee of the Conference, even though its membership will be much larger.
Report on Public Forum:
“People with Disabilities: OUR Rights and Responsibilities”
September 6, 2006, Hyde Park Neighborhood Club
Sponsored by 5th Ward Service Office, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
Addendum: Specific sidewalk and intersections directed to be inspected and recommended include 55th from Hyde Park Blvd. through Lake Park and around University Residences and Bank Financial and Lake Park from 55th area north past 51st. Specifics include sidewalks, street ramps, signage, signals (including count-downs), and bike and other pedestrian interactions.
Note, the Task Force is aware that is must address problems of people with mental, dependency, and behavioral problems as well and also that the concerns of disabled persons often overlaps with those of elderly and the young (including in schools). It also recognizes the need to improve awareness of how businesses can better address the needs of all their patrons in thresholds, doors, double-door vestibules, access to serving lines or tables and washrooms, the tables or aisles/maneuvering space and high stacking/shelving/counters. (K-Mart recently paid an expensive settlement on the latter category.)
From Hyde Park Herald September 13, 2006. By Kathy Chaney
Disabilities group to tackle Lake Park/55th St. traffic: Treatment of Hyde Park woman with seeing-eye dog sparked Sept. 6 forum
After being slighted from a few area businesses based on her use of a service animal, Karen Robinson turned the negative into a positive. Her experiences inspired the first Hyde Park Community Disabilities Forum on Sept. 6 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club.
Sponsored by Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HPKCC) and the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, residents with disabilities shared their experiences and helped initiate a community-wide Disabilities Task Force.
Made up of representatives from the 4th and 5th Ward aldermanic offices, HPKCC, and the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and local volunteers, the task force plans to "tackle the traffic intersection at 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue, bicycle etiquette (bike riders on the sidewalks), and sidewalk conditions frequented by wheelchair users," said George Rumsey, president of HPKCC. Ald. Hairston said that helping bring the forum to fruition was "an eye-opening experience for all of us."
Nicholas Pomaro, a retired circuit judge and current director of the Legal Clinic at the Chicago Lighthouse, said he lost his sight completely at 6 years old. His experiences led him to help start t he legal clinic 13 months ago. "We have a working relationship with the University of Chicago Law School and we've helped between 200 and 300 people," Pomaro sid.
Pomaro said he knows there are prejudicial barriers against the handicapped and he understands that because people do not know what it is like to walk in his shoes. "I don't want to be handed anything. I want an opportunity to succeed. I think society owes me that," he said.
Wheelchair bound Mike Sentino, a Hyde Park resident for 20 years, said that his main concern was the uneven sidewalks and the timing of the traffic lights at 55th Street and Lake Park Avenue. "The timing is too quick and you would get run over by a car," Sentino said.
He said the sidewalks are so uneven that he almost tips over in his wheelchair, forcing him to sometimes travel in the street. Hairston addressed his concerns and said she would bring it up at the next city council meeting Sept. 13.
Lenora Austin, executive director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, said that Hyde Park is "a place where people take care of each other," She added, "The main goal is to go away with a different mind set as a result of the forum."
The Herald applauds those who for the last few weeks have been working to make Hyde Park friendlier to people with disabilities. Those efforts have targeted some of our neighborhood businesses, the tricky intersection at Lake Park Avenue and 55th Street and Bret Harte Elementary School.
Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) in particular is taking Chicago Public Schools to task over the lack of wheelchair access at Bret Harte. After two years of talking about it, Hairston expected COS to have had the problem fixed by the start of school. That didn't happen, and wheelchair-bound parents have to continue meeting with their children's teachers on the playground outside the school. How degrading!
The excuse given to the parents by CPS, as stated in last week's Herald is that a "limited budget" is keeping Harte from being compliant with the 16-year-old Americans with Disabilities act. In 16 years, CPS couldn't make Harte ADA compliant? Access to the school for parents, students, faculty and staff should be a priority. Hairston raised the issue at the Sept. 13 city council meeting in the form of a resolution. In the meantime, CPS is saying it can do nothing to assist the Harte community.
A week earlier, the alderman co-sponsored a forum with the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce that launched the Disabilities Task Force. In addition to Bret Harte, the task force aims to address uneven sidewalks and Lake Park/55th intersection, which arguably doesn't allow enough time for handicapped pedestrians to cross.
An important aim is to require all Hyde Park businesses to open their doors to people with disabilities. The issue arose earlier in the summer when Karen Robinson, who uses a seeing-eye dog, was denied service at Dunkin Donuts, 1411 E. 53rd st. No one deserves to be treated this way, and the Chamber of Commerce is the right agency to monitor the treatment of those who shop in our neighborhood.
Herald Nov. 8 2006. Karen Cashen
I'm writing to protest the unsafe and unsightly sidewalk on 56th Street between Lake Shore Drive and Stony Island Avenue. The situation is a lawsuit waiting to happen and should be fixed immediately. I know. I live across the street and use this sidewalk constantly. I can't say how many times I've slipped, had to step around dirt and water, or been force to walk along the curb.
While the very eastern end of the sidewalk was redone recently as part of the lake shore rehab, the rest remains cracked and parts are in pieces due to age and tree roots. Water has eroded the park and onto the sidewalk resulting in dirt and debris. The cracks and upheavals fill with water and ice making it nearly impossible to navigate in bad weather.
The sidewalk is a main neighborhood thoroughfare for runners and walkers accessing the lake, families going to the Museum of Science and Industry, and parents and kids going to and from Bret Harte Elementary School and the two Jackson Park playgrounds. It's especially hazardous for Montgomery Place seniors, some of whom are in wheelchairs.
Chicago is "the city that works." So c'mon Chicago, let's get the 56th Street sidewalk in working order! Complaints to our alderman have been ignored, so now it's time for citizens to protest to find a way to have this local eyesore and hazard resurfaced.
Herald, October 18, 2006. Letter by Allen Lang
Although I am an athletic septuagenarian with two state-of-the-art artificial knees, I can only with effort make the crossing at Lake Park Avenue and 55th Street under the aegis of the "walk" light. That corner is the most pedestrian-unfriendly in the city. Its nine-second pause for walkers is absurdly brief.
How stressful it must be for a mother with a 2-year-old in her stroller trying to make it over in the allotted instant, or for a shopper pushing a cart. Might our aldermen cause the traffic lights to be set to allow those of us on foot to get safely across the street?
Hostess: Judy Roothaan.
Panelists: Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th); Lenora Austin, Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce Executive Director; George Rumsey Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference; Earl? Jordan, Illinois Jobs One Stop.
George Rumsey described the causative spark for and the background of the Task Force and of the initial forum. Rumsey said that founder Karen Robinson has been recently asked to remove her service dog from two more establishments. Conclusion: it will not be enough to talk to business owners, but also to their employees.
The business education program was discussed and refined, including packets, signs, decals to be left. The message the signs are to give is "we comply with the....." Alderman Hairston left no doubt she intends to put pressure on businesses that don't comply. The Chamber is sending a letter to businesses, then starting about November 13 teams of 2 (disabled and regularly abled) will each contact a small number of owners with a packet, signs, and maybe decals. There will also have to be a way to get the word out to customers to expect to see service dogs in stores, restaurants et al- maybe the signs and decals can help.
During discussion of next Task Force "fronts" (walks-intersections-cuts-streets), then bicycle-pedestrian interface, it became evident people with many concerns would like to piggyback on the needs of persons with disabilities on behalf of the elderly, hard of sight or hearing, indeed everyone suffers from bad walks, mistimed intersections et al. "Making Hyde Park a caring and safe, user-friendly community for everyone" could be the model. People also said the Task Force needs to look into and promote Universal Design.
Alderman Hairston announced that audible countdown signals will be installed at 55th and Lake Park now. Redesign of the intersection will be studied. The Task Force will next look at other intersections and interfaces, especially on Lake Park and its adjacent Metra viaduct areas, then at other walks. The Department of Transportation visited Lake Park/55th with the Mayor's Office on People with Disabilities. They are both very helpful. The alderman did say infrastructure funds are very limited--maybe the institutions can chip in. A traffic study is underway of 56th and Lake Park--a signal light is under consideration. She noted that the city has to re-do all the public walk curb cuts not done recently. She was asked how we can get drivers back to honoring the law and common sense on stops, red lights, turning (including further restrictions on turn-on-red), and speeding. She asked us to write Metra about replacement of bad South Chicago branch crosswalks in South Shore.
Concern was expressed about erratic snow and ice removal. The city and other government and institution plows frequently leave big banks, especially at crosswalks. Persons called for snow removal funded by the TIF or a parking improvement district. Specifically mentioned were the University's alumni center (56th and Woodlawn) and by Walgreen's/Lake Park-55th northward on Lake Park. Also the parks.
Persons said we have to plan to help the disabled in case of disasters large or small. Others said a quick target for results would be to ask the banks, some other businesses that use lines, to provide places for people to sit.
Rumsey suggested alliances with similar groups in neighboring communities, and said this Task Force is being looked at as a pilot by the city, some other neighborhoods, and disabilities organizations such as Chicago Lighthouse. Rumsey said we have to focus now on disabilities issues, those on which we can win tangible results.
Members said the task force might prepare materials on what make for business or structure good or poor compliance and then commend businesses that are really helpful, creative, and make changes for the disabled (and anyone with physical drawbacks or age).
You can help remove barriers or keep ways safe and clear by:
On July 8, 2006, Hyde Parker Karen Robinson was asked by management to remove her service (seeing eye) dog from the Dunkin' Donuts on 53rd Street; police backed Dunkin' Donuts with a sweeping assertion of proprietors' rights contrary to the 1969 Illinois White Cane Law. Since the incident, it turned out that such denials of service are frequent. Ms. Robinson's complaint to government agencies, television, and our local aldermen. Several groups have been working with local aldermen and Chicago Police, looking into what can be done, and concluding that a sweeping educational effort will have the most immediate effect. Targeted especially are business owners and police. For the latter, a short training video on the White Cane Law was hurried into production and will be shown to all Chicago police officers. For the community, a wide-ranging forum has been called for September 6 (see above).
Woman with seeing eye [service] dog fights rejection
Hyde Park Herald, August 16, 2006, by Kathy Chaney
Frustrated with being asked to leave local area businesses since moving to Hyde Park 13 months ago, Karen Robinson, who is visually handicapped, said enough is enough and fought back.
Robinson, who uses a seeing-eye dog, said since moving to Hyde Park she had problems entering a few businesses in Hyde Park Shopping Center. And what was supposed to be a regular walk with her dog and a stop at the 53rd Street Dunkin['] Donuts shop turned out to be the opposite, adm the final straw for Robinson.
Robinson, her guide dog Hampton and a friend walked to Dunkin' Donuts, 1311 E. 53rd st., around [?] p.m. on July 8. "We were sitting there for about a minute when the manager came up and told me, 'You have to take the dog outside,' I proceeded to tell him that I'm visually impaired and I use the aid of a guide dog. This dog has every right to be in any place that is accessible to the public," Robinson told the Herald.
Robinson said the manager insisted the dog go outside and if she did not comply with the request, the police would be called. Expecting the police to enforce her rights, she urged him to call the police. Once the police arrived, they sided with store management and said the store has the right to refuse service to anyone they pleased. She then asked for the police to fill out a report so she could have something official to aid her complaint with the city's Department of Human Rights.
She was unable to obtain a report from the officers because she was told that the incident as not a criminal offense, only a civil offense. Refusing access to an individual and its service animal carries a Class A misdemeanor charge for the violator, something she said the police should have known.
Discouraged at the outcome, Robinson left the donut shop. She then decided to file a complaint with the city's Department of Human Rights anyway. She also contacted Channel 5's investigative unit.
In response to inquiries from the station's reporters, the Chicago Police Department held a public press conference on Aug. 7 unveiling a new five-minute training video on the "White Cane Law." The Illinois law, effective since 1969, ensures that people who are visually handicapped, hearing impaired or who suffer from epilepsy or other seizure disorders or are otherwise physically disabled have the right to be accompanied by their service animal in areas and on transportation open to the general public, including restaurants, hotels, busses, airplanes and trains.
Police said the training production had been planned months ago. "We encouraged the training video production. There is a lot of training a police officer is required to retain," said Monique Bond, police spokeswoman. Officials also said the officers who responded to the call at the donut shop were misinformed about the law and were not disciplined.
"This video was developed as a way to better educate our officers about the White Cane Law, but it also provides and opportunity to raise public awareness so that other individuals, including restaurants, business owners and taxi drivers, can also be informed," said Charles Williams, police deputy superintendent.
Management at the Dunkin' Donuts declined to comment on the incident. Dunkin' Donuts corporate office sent Robinson a letter of apology a few weeks after the incident and included four coupons for free coffee. [In an earlier article, the corporate office also pointed out that the stores are franchisee owned.]
Employees at the Pizza Hut restaurant across the street form the donut shop said they have customers with guide dogs come in occasionally. "We don't have a problem with them coming in. Sometimes a few customers are alarmed, but once they see what kind of dog it is, they are ok with it," said an employee, who prefers her name withheld.
"I need this dog just as much as he needs me. He's also here for safety issues. Without him I felt like a sitting duck Don't condemn me because I'm different and I use a dog," Robinson said of Hampton, who has been with her since 204. The first time she was denied access was in 2004 at a clothing boutique on East 95th Street.
Robinson now caries the Assistance Dogs International Guide to Assistance Dog Laws book each time she leaves home.
Joan Alofs says, Accept people with disabilities
Herald, August 30, 2006
I was shocked and outraged to read in the Aug. 16 issue of the Herald that a local resident, Karen Robinson, has been denied access to businesses in our community because she uses a service dog. It was even more unsettling to learn that Chicago police officers, whose job it is "to serve and protect" supported this action because of "misinformation" regarding the White Cane Law.
I am writing at this time for two reasons. First and foremost, I would like Ms. Robinson to know that she is respected, not condemned by many in this community. Indeed, some of us wonder and worry about how well we would be able to handle life should something happen to our eyesight. In addition, I would like Ms. Robinson to know that if there is anything that I personally can do to make her feel more accepted and welcome in the community I would be only happy to do it.
Second, I would like to take this opportunity to supply a little information about the training dog guides receive before they are placed in service in the hope that this might help people feel more comfortable when they encounter these animals in places that our culture does not traditionally allow animals.
Service dogs are frequently big (German shepherds, golden retrievers and labs) and therefore can be somewhat intimidating. However, whether donated or specifically bred for a career of service, these dogs have been chosen because of their intelligence and calm, gentle natures. Most spend their first year with a "puppy raiser" whose job it is to socialize and give the puppy its first exposure to grocery stores, restaurants and things such as walking past a large exhaust fan in a parking garage or on grates in the sidewalk. Once the dog is a year old, it is returned to the school or training establishment for four months of rigorous training and evaluation by a professional instructor
A dog will automatically be eliminated from the program if it shows any sign of aggression. It can also be "career changed" for physical reasons or even for such things as being too distractable. If, however, the dog completes the training, it is matched with an individual and spends another month with the instructor who teaches the dog and the person to work as a team. Approximately $30,000 has been invested in each dog by the time training is completed and the dog leaves the school with its new master.
I encourage everyone to attend the forum on people with disabilities on Sept. 6 at the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club. In the meantime, I hope this little bit of information will help people feel more accepting of persons moving about our community with service dogs.
Chicago Tribune, August 30, by J.S. Cohen
U. of C. deal is part of crackdown by U.S.
By Jodi S. Cohen
Tribune higher education reporter
Published August 31, 2006
The first time the fire alarm went off in his University of Chicago dorm, Jonathan Ko, a quadriplegic, was in bed, without a plan of escape. Had it been a real fire, there would have been no obvious way for anyone to know he was stuck.
Days later, a red sign went up in his window to alert firefighters to his location.
Years after Ko's experience and 16 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act led to sweeping changes in accommodations for people with special needs, the U. of C. and many other institutions are still grappling with how to adapt--a slow evolution tolerated, until recently, by the government.
But roughly two years ago, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation at the U. of C. and about 10 other universities.
Last month, to avoid litigation, U. of C. officials signed an agreement with the Justice Department that requires extensive campus improvements during the next four years.
Government officials hope the U. of C. settlement and another signed this month with Colorado College are only the beginning of a series of agreements that will require universities to improve access and accommodations for students with disabilities.
The cost of retrofitting buildings, as well as revamping everything from parking to emergency plans, has caught the attention of academia.
"The Justice Department is sending a very strong shot across the bow of American higher education, from community colleges to major research universities, that they are serious about the enforcement of ADA," said Sheldon Steinbach, general counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based American Council on Education. He said it could be "extraordinarily expensive" to comply with what the Justice Department wants.
Under the U. of C. agreement, changes will include making 3 percent of housing units accessible for people with disabilities, identifying accessible routes on the university's Web site and reviewing evacuation procedures and transportation.
The agreement states that even some of the university's new construction is faulty, noting problems with doors, restrooms, signage and classroom seating.
The settlement does not include academic accommodations such as technology that can make online course material available in an audio format for students who are blind.
Though they agreed to make the changes, university officials deny violating the law, according to the agreement.
A slow, expensive process
Ingrid Gould, a U. of C. assistant vice provost, said some of the stipulated improvements--including campus wide emergency plans--have been under way for years. Other recent changes include new entrance ramps, updating lifts for heavier and wider wheelchairs and re paving some cracked and uneven pathways.
But it can be a slow and expensive process, and the Justice Department settlement "helped sharpen our focus," Gould said.
"All of the things they point out are areas where we have been working," Gould said. She said administrators haven't put a dollar amount on the changes, which will likely be incorporated into the capital budget.
Typically the government has waited until it received complaints to pursue ADA violations at universities. Justice Department spokeswoman Cynthia Magnuson said the U. of C. review, however, wasn't prompted by any specific complaint.
Instead, Justice Department attorneys now proactively check campuses for problems, and the U. of C. settlement is the first resulting from this approach, Magnuson said. The government focused on universities in part because many are old--and complex, due to the number of buildings.
"It is difficult to get out and look at every school, but we are doing everything we can," she said. "We hope the publicity we get from these kinds of cases will make other schools look at their problems."
Gould said there are usually only one or two U. of C. students each year with physical disabilities. There will be five this fall.
The low numbers aren't surprising to Ken Walden, an attorney at Access Living in Chicago.
"If you're a person with a disability and visit campus and realize it is horribly inaccessible, you might strike it off the list," Walden said. "A common refrain [at many institutions] is that nobody with a disability has ever been here. Of course not, because they can't get in."
That's not the case at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which enrolls several hundred students a year with physical disabilities, including between 60 and 80 who use wheelchairs.
The campus has been a leader in educating students with special needs since World War II and boasts of having the first wheelchair-accessible dorm, bus system and sports program for students with disabilities.
Each student with a disability is assigned a staff member. There's a dorm dedicated to students with severe physical disabilities. Maps on the university's Web site show automatic door openers, accessible parking, elevators and restrooms.
"If you build it, they will come," said Brad Hedrick, director of the U. of I. division of disability resources and education services. "For persons with disabilities, the relative access that the campuses offer is something that they consider."
U. of I. leads the way
In most cases, public universities have been ahead of their private counterparts, with U. of I. and the University of California at Berkeley leading the way, said Richard Allegra of the Association on Higher Education and Disability. He said the U. of C. settlement resonates beyond Hyde Park.
"A lot of people will be watching this particular case ... to see how to implement changes on their own campuses and see where they stand," Allegra said.
Katrina Gossett, who uses an electric wheelchair, will start law school at U. of C. this year. She said she's been satisfied with the university's efforts to accommodate her, including the renovation of an apartment and the addition of door openers at all her classrooms.
"Right now the apartments aren't accessible, but they are working on it," said Gossett, who has spinal muscular atrophy. "They are adding door openers, lowering the light switches, widening the bathroom."
She also has been advised of an emergency plan, which includes an evacuation chair by stairs near her apartment.
"They have gone above and beyond what I expected," said Gossett, who hopes to practice disability law.
Ko, now in law school at the U. of I., said that while the U. of C. was at times difficult to navigate, university officials were quick to meet his needs. They knocked down a wall in a dorm to accommodate his wheelchair, hired a student to write out his exam answers and added a more modern lift to the Reynolds Club, home to several student organizations.
"They do take care of you really well and make the accommodations that you need," Ko said. "It is simply that they haven't had to deal with it, and so they don't really think of it too much until after the fact."
Still, while he emphasizes his positive experience at the Hyde Park campus, Ko said he's glad the university is taking a careful look at accessibility.
"So much of that campus is not that wheelchair-friendly," he said. "If I were a prospective student and I were to go there to visit, that would freak me out."
U of C begins to improve on-campus accessibility. Maroon, October 20, 2006. By Kate Glass. See also below
The University has started a long-term process of revamping the campus to be accessible for people with disabilities, following a mid-July settlement with the Department of Justice. The Justice Department initiated a lengthy review of campus facilities in early 2004 to ensure the University complies with regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The out-of-court settlement includes a wide range of areas that need updates, including emergency evacuation plans, toilets in dormitories, the late-night transportation service, assisted-listening devices in classrooms, and signs on campus buildings.
Because the University is still in the preliminary stage of updating the campus, officials do not have an estimate on how much its compliance efforts will cost. "It's an answer that will become clear as we determine the work that we need to be doing," said Assistant Provost and Assistant Vice President Ingrid Gould, who was on of the University representatives working with the Justice Department on the settlement.
About a year ago, the University hired LCM Architects, a consulting firm that specializes in the ADA. The firm has been surveying the campus, tracking the weight of front doors, the depth of bathroom sinks, the height of paper towel dispensers, and making many other specified measurements. "It's really, really super careful--every little technical detail," Gould said.
The settlement required the University to update its late-night van service by October 1. Gould said the University met the deadline and currently has separate buses that can serve people with disabilities. Gould said there are separate, accessible vans for people with disabilities to call. These student scan also wait inside for the van to arrive...
The University has also erected signs on campus buildings to alert people with disabilities about accessible bathrooms and entrances, in accordance with the settlement. Some of the bigger changes on campus will be building renovations, but this process is still in the preliminary stage. The settlement simply states that the University must "correct violations for accessibility by February 1, 2010."
"We will have some renovations to some number--as yet undetermined--of buildings," Gould said. Gould said the University first started updating the campus to comply with the ADA in 1992, but that the process is a long-term one. "A campus this size--it takes years, and this is true if you're Stanford, it's true if you're Dartmouth," she said. "Different schools have different challenges. We at least have a flat campus, but we have the challenge of winter."
Gould said remaining true to the campus's Gothic character presents another challenge. "We don't want to do it in a slapdash way," she said. "To renovate a campus of this elegance, we want the accessible entrances to be equally appropriate."
The settlement covers the new residence hall, which as already broken ground south of the Midway, but Gould said it would to slow down the process, because the design already complies with the ADA. "New buildings are supposed to be accessible," Gould said.
The following was developed by the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce disabilityworks. Dissabilityworks is the Chicagoland Chamber component of the Mayor's Task Force on People with Disabilities
If you have questions or would like more information about reaching out to customers with disabilities, please contact us: Jennifer Schindl, Managing Director, Chicagoland Business Leadership Networks 312 494-6713, disabilityworks, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, 200 E. Randolph, Suite 2200, Chicago, ILlinois 60601, www.disabilityworks.org.
Summary: Under this law, persons who are blind or visually impaired, or hearing impaired, or have other physical disabilities are entitled to full and equal use of all hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodation, amusement or resort and other places to which the general public is invited. This includes the right to a support dog or guide dog without extra cost.
Human Rights. (775A ILCSA 30/) White Cane Law
30/1) (from Ch. 23, par. 3361)
Sec. 1. This Act may be cited as the White Cane Law. (Source P.A. 86-1475.)
30/2) (from Ch. 23, par. 3362)
Sec. 2. It is the policy of the State to encourage and enable the blind, the visually handicapped an th otherwise physically disabled to participate fully in the social and economic life of the State and to engage in remunerative employment. (Source: P.A.76-663.)
30/30) (from Ch. 23, par. 3363)
Sec. 3. The blind, the visually handicapped, the hearing impaired, persons who are subject to epilepsy or other seizure disorders, and the otherwise physically disabled have the same right as the able-bodies to the full and free use of the streets, highways, sidewalks, walkways, public buildings, public facilities and other public places.
The blind, the visually handicapped, the hearing impaired, persons who are subject to epilepsy or other seizure disorders, and the otherwise physically disabled are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities an privileges of all common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, street cars, boats or any other public conveyances or modes of transportation, hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodation, amusement or resort and other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.
Every totally or partially blind, hearing impaired, person who is subject to epilepsy or other seizure disorders, or otherwise physically disabled person or a trainer of support dogs, guide dogs, seizure-alert dogs, seizure-response dogs, or hearing dogs shall have the right to be accompanied by a support dog or guide dog especially trained for th e purpose, or a dog that is being trained to be a support dog, guide dog, seizure-alert dog, seizure-response dog, or hearing dog, in any of the places listed in the Section without being required to pay an extra charge for the guide, support, seizure-alert, seizure-response, or hearing dog; provided that he shall be liable for any damage done to the premises or facilities by such dog. (Source: P/A 92-187, eff. 1-1-02; 93-532, eff. 1-1-04.)
30/4) (from Ch. 23, par. 3364)
Sec. 4. Any person or persons, firm or corporation, or the agent of any person or persons, firm or corporation who denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of the public facilities enumerated in Section 3 of this Act or otherwise interferes with the rights of a totally or partially blind or otherwise disable person under Section 3 of this Act shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. (Source: P.A. 77-2830.)
30/5) (from Ch. 23, par. 3365)
Sec. 5. It is the policy of this State that the blind, the visually handicapped and the otherwise physically disabled shall be employed in the State Service, the service of the political subdivisions of the State, in the public schools and all the other employment supported in whole or in part by funds on the same terms and conditions as the able-bodied, unless it is shown that he particular disability prevents the performance of the work involved. (Source: P.A. 76-663.)
30/6) (from Ch. 23, par. 3366)
Sec. 6. Each year, the Governor is authorized and requested to designate and take suitable public notice of White Cane Safety Day and to issue a proclamation in which:
(a) he comments upon the significance of the white cane;
(b) he calls upon the citizens of the State to observer the provisions of the White Cane Law and to take precautions necessary to the safety of the disabled;
(c) he reminds the citizens of the State of the policies with respect to the disabled herein declared and urges the citizens to cooperate in giving effect to them;
(d) he emphasizes the need of the citizens to be aware of the presence of disabled persons in the community and to keep safe and functional for the disabled the streets, highways, sidewalks, public buildings, public facilities, other public places, places of public accommodation, amusement and resort, and other places to which the public is invited, and to offer assistance to disabled persons upon appropriate occasions. (Source: P.A. 76-663.)
Disabilities Brief from the
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section. 2002
Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities - such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to ALL businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos.
- Businesses may ask if an animal is a service animal or ask what tasks the animal has been trained to perform, but cannot require special ID cards for the animal or ask about the person's disability.
- People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be charged extra fees , isolated from other patrons, or treated less favorably than other patrons. However, if a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause. a customer with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animal.
- A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the animal is out of control and the animal's owner does not take effective action to control it (for example, a dog that barks repeatedly during a movie) or (2) the animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others.
- In these cases, the business should give the person with the disability the option to obtain goods without having the animal on the premises.
- Businesses that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
- A business is not required to provide care or food for a service animal or provide a special location for it to relieve itself.
- Allergies and fear of animals are generally NOT valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people with service animal.
- Violator s of the ADA can be required to pay money damages and penalties.
If you have additional questions concerning the ADA and service animals, please call the Department's ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0302 or TTY 800 514-0383 or visit the ADA Business Connection at www.ada.gov.
And you can get from the same division and U.S. Small Business Administration the Americans with Disabilities Act ADA Guide for Small Businesses, which includes much more detail and many more subjects (including tax credits) and resources. Call the Small Business Administration at 80 827-5722 or http://www.sba.gov.
The 1.7 million people with disabilities in Illinois have the same rights to free and equal participation in society that people without disabilities have. Service animals often assist people with disabilities to perform tasks that are essential to their independence. Without such assistance, these individuals would be unable to perform everyday tasks.
The Office of the Attorney General has made it a top priority to ensure that individuals with disabilities have fair and equal access to all public accommodations and modes of transportation. The information provided in this pamphlet outlines your legal obligation to accommodate people with disabilities.
Planes,Trains, and Automobiles Too?
The Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by public transit systems offered by state or local governments (such a trains or buses) and by private transportation companies (taxicab services, airlines, buses or shuttle buses).
According to the ADA, operators of these modes of transportation must allow service animals to accompany their owners with disabilities in the vehicle. Transportation providers also cannot charge higher fares or fees for transporting people with disabilities and their service animals. The fare must be the same as that charged to other people for the same or equivalent service.
What is a Service Animal?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a service animal as any guide, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to a person with disability. An animal fitting this description is considered a service animal under the ADA regardless of whether the animal is licensed or certified by state or local government.
Service animals help people with disabilities perform tasks that they would not be able to do without assistance. Most of us are familiar with "seeing-eye dogs" used by people who have visual impairments. However, service animals are also able to help people with a variety of other disabilities as well. Examples include:
Service Animal vs. Pet
If you are uncertain whether the animal is a service animal or a pet, you may ask the person if it is a service animal needed because of a disability. Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. However, an individual who is going into a restaurant or theater is not likely to be carrying those documents or documentation of his or her medical condition or disability.
Therefore, such documentation is NOT required as a condition to permit entry of an individual accompanied by a service animal.
How the Law Affects Your Business or Public Accommodation.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by privately owned businesses and other accommodation that are open to the public-such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, theaters, parks, government offices, concert halls, and sport facilities. These businesses and public accommodations must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto their premises in whatever areas the public is generally allowed.
Under the Illinois Guide Dog Access Act and White Cane Law, a person who has a visual impairment, hearing impairment or physical disability and is accompanied by a service dog is guaranteed the right of entry and use of all public accommodations, including modes of transportation.
Violation of the Guide Dog Access Act is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Violation of the White Cane Law is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail an a $1,000 fine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What must I do when and individual with a service animal comes into my business or public accommodation? The service animal must be permitted to accompany an individual with a disability to all areas generally accessible to the public. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other people.
I have always had a clearly posted "no pets" policy at my establishment. Must I change my policy to admit service animals? Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your "no pets" policy to allow use of a service animal by a person with a disability. This does not mean you must abandon your "no pets" policy altogether but simply that you must make an exception to your general rule for service animals.
My county health department has told me that only a seeing eye or guide dog has to be admitted. If I follow these regulations, am I violating the ADA? Yes. If you refuse to admit any other type of service animal on the basis of local health department regulations or other state or local laws you would be in violation of the ADA. The ADA provides greater protection for individuals with disabilities and takes priority over local or state laws or regulations.
Am I responsible for the animal while the person with a disability is in my business or public accommodation? No. The care and supervision of a service animal is solely the responsibility of his or her owner. You are not required to provide care, food or a special location for the animal.
Can I charge a maintenance or cleaning fee for people who bring service animals into my business or public accommodation? No. Neither a deposit nor a surcharge may be imposed on an individual with a disability as a condition of allowing the service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets. However, a public accommodation may charge a person with disabilities if the service animal causes damage and it is the regular practice of the entity to charge people without disabilities for the same type of damages.
Where can I file a complaint alleging a violation of the ADA or state law?
An ADA complaint can be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, 800 514-0301, TTY 800 514-0383
A complaint alleging a violation of the White Cane Law or the Guide Dog Access Act can be file with your county's states attorney.
Attorney General's Office, www.ag.state.il.us.
Disability Rights Bureau.
In Chicago 100 West Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601, 312 814-5684, TTY 312 814-3374.
These may not be your only best filing recourses.
Intended as informal guidance only. Covers removal of barriers.
The Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits the exclusion of people with disabilities from everyday activities, such as buying an item in the store, watching a movie in a theater, enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, exercising at the local health club or having the car serviced at a local garage. To meet the goals of the ADA, the law established requirements of private businesses of all sizes. These requirements first went into effect on January 26, 1992, nd continue for both for-profit and non-profit organizations.
For small businesses, compliance with the ADA is not difficult. To help businesses with their compliance efforts, Congress established a technical assistance program to answer questions about the ADA... In addition, tax credits and deductions were established that can be used annually to offset many costs of providing access to people with disabilities.
In recognition that many small businesses can not afford to make significant physical change to their stores or places of business to provide accessibility to wheelchair users and other people with disabilities, the ADA has requirements for existing facilities built before 1993 that are less strict than for ones built after early 1993 or modified after early 1992.
Private Businesses that Serve the Public: Public Accommodations
Private businesses that provide goods or services to the public are called public accommodations in the ADA. The ADA establishes requirements for twelve categories of public accommodations, including stores and shops, restaurants and bars, service establishments, theaters, hotels, recreational facilities, private museums and schools and others. Nearly all types of private businesses that serve the public are included in the categories, regardless of size.
If you own, operate, lease, or lease to a business that serves the public, then, you are covered by the ADA and have obligations for existing facilities as well as for compliance when a new facility is constructed. Existing facilities are not exempted by "grandfather provisions" that re often used by building code officials.
Many business facilities were built without features that accommodate people with disabilities, including people who use wheelchairs. This lack of accessibility makes it impossible for many people with disabilities to take part in everyday activities such as going to work, eating in a restaurant or shopping in a store. The ADA recognizes that, for people with disabilities to participate in the everyday activities in their communities, they need to have access to the goods and services provided by businesses.
While it is not possible for many businesses, especially small businesses, to make their facilities fully accessible, there is much that can be done without much difficulty or expense to improve accessibility. Therefore, the ADA requires that accessibility be improved without taking on excessive expenses that could harm the business.
If you own or operate a business that serves the public you must remove physical "barriers" that are "readily achievable", which means easily accomplishable without much difficulty or expense. The "readily achievable" requirement is based on the size and resources of the business. So larger businesses with more resources are expected to take a more active role in removing barriers than small businesses. The ADA also recognizes that economic conditions vary. When a business has resources to remove barriers, it is expected to do so; but when profits are down, barrier removal may be reduced or delayed. Barrier removal is an ongoing obligation --you are expected to remove barriers in the future as resources become available.
Architectural barriers are physical features that limit or prevent people with disabilities from obtaining the goods or services that are offered. They can include parking spaces that are too narrow to accommodate people who use wheelchairs; a step or steps at the entrance to part of the selling space of a store; round doorknobs or door hardware that is difficult to grasp; aisles that are too narrow for a person using a wheelchair, electric scooter, or a walker; a high counter or narrow checkout aisles at a cash register, and fixed table in eating areas that are too low to accommodate a person using wheelchair or that have fixed seats that prevent a person using a wheelchair from pulling under a table.
In evaluating what barriers need to be removed, a business should look to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design as a guide. These standards are part of the ADA Title III regulations. Seeking input from people with disabilities in your community can also be an important and valuable part of the barrier removal process because they can help identify barriers in your business and offer advice on what solutions may work.
When a business removes barriers, it should follow the design requirements for new construction in the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards). In some cases, existing conditions, limited resources or both will make it not "readily achievable" to follow these standards fully. If this occurs , barrier removal measures may derive from the Standards so long as the measures do not pose a significant risk to the health or safety of individuals with disabilities or others.
for Barrier Removal
When deciding which barriers to remove first, we suggest that you first provide access to the business from public sidewalks, parking, and public transportation and then provide access to the areas where goods and services are made available to the public. Once these barriers are removed, you should provide access to public toilet rooms (if toilet rooms are provided for customer use). When those barriers have been removed, it may be necessary to remove any remaining barriers including those that limit use of public telephones and drinking fountains.
Examples of Barrier
When parking is provided for the public, designated accessible parking spaces must be provided, if doing so is readily achievable. An accessible parking space must have space for the vehicle and an additional space located either to the right or to the left of the space that serves as an access aisle. This aisle is needed to permit a person using a wheelchair, electric scooter, or other mobility device to get out of their car or van. A sign with the international symbol of accessibility must be located in front of the parking space and mounted high enough so it is not hidden by a vehicle parked in the space.
Accessible parking spaces should be the spaces closest to the accessible entrance and be located on level [1:50 ax. slope} ground. If..not. then the closest level area should be selected. An accessible route must be provided between the access aisle and the accessible building entrance. This route must have no steps or steeply sloped surfaces and it must have a firm, stable, slip-resistant surface.
Van accessible spaces must have an access aisle that is at least eight-feet wide and be designated by a sign with the international symbol and "van accessible." There should be a vertical clearance of at least 98 inches on the vehicular route to the space, at the parking space, and along the vehicular route to an exit. (A marked crosswalk may be needed if route crosses vehicular traffic.) 1 in 8 of all accessible parking spaces, but at least one, must be van accessible. Cars may use th e space too. Two parking spaces may share a common access aisle. Install a curb ramp where an accessible route crosses a curb- and curb ramp does not extend into the access aisle.
Accessible parking spaces for cars must have an access aisle that is at least five feet wide. The other features are the same as for vans, except... sign. The number of accessible parking spaces that should be provided is based on the total number of parking spaces that you provide (1 for up to 25, 2 for up to 50...) If you provide only one accessible parking space, it must also be a van accessible space, else one of 8 must be van accessible. Where parking is provided in several locations near building entrances, the accessible parking should also be dispersed if possible.
Providing physical access to a facility from public sidewalks, public transportation, or parking is basic to making goods and services available to people with disabilities. Having only one step at the entrance can prevent access to a person using a wheelchair, walker, or cane and can make entry difficult for many other people with mobility disabilities.
Where one or two steps exist at an entrance, access can be achieved in a variety of ways-- for example, by using an alternate accessible entrance, adding a short ramp, modifying the area in front or to the side of the entrance to eliminate a step, or installing a lift.
When a business has two public entrances, in most cases, only one must be accessible.... a sign must provide direction to the accessible entrance. The alternative entrance must be open during store hours. If the alternative accessible entrance is not left left unlocked due to security concerns, you must provide an accessible way for notifying staff to open the door, such as a buzzer or bell...located on an accessible route and mounted at an accessible height (generally not more than 48 inches above ground).
When a ramp is added to provide an accessible entrance, the slope of the ramp should be as shallow as possible but not more than 1:12. It is also important to provide handrails whenever the slope is more than 1:20 and the vertical rise is greater than 6 inches (a slope of 1:20 means that for every 20 units of horizontal length there is one unit of vertical rise or fall). It is best to grade the area that is adjacent to the ramp to avoid an abrupt drop-off. If a drop-off exists, then a barrier such as a raised edge or railing must be installed. Edge protection is very important because it prevents people from accidentally rolling off the edge of the ramp. Wide landing accommodates turns needed to enter or exit.
...another way to modify an entrance to make it accessible. A level landing area is provided in front of the entry door so a person can purl the door open. The area adjacent to the landing is grade flush with the landing so no drop-off exists.... Another approach is to use a platform or folding lift.
When it is not readily achievable to provide an accessible entrance, the goods and services must be provided some other way.. home delivery or some alternative service, receive a delivery by telephone and have a clerk bring the order to the customer..(Must be publicized.)
Doors at Entrances
(Should be at least 36 inches wide with 32 inches clear width fully opened.) Inaccessible door hardware can also prevent access to the business. (Unacceptable- panel time requiring tight grasp, thumb-latch type. Accessible: pull lever or loop--because can be used without grasping, pinching or twisting.)
Standard narrow turnstiles are not usable by wheelchair users and by most people who walk with crutches, walkers, or canes. Whenever a narrow turnstile is used, an accessible turnstile, gate or opening or accessible alternative entrance must be provided. (An opening for a wheelchair must be at least 32 inches wide.
Shelves and Maneuvering
When sales items are displayed or stored on shelve for selection by customer, the store must provide an accessible route to fixed shelves and displays, if doing so is readily achievable. (36 inches needed, slightly larger at corner.) If a 180 degree turn is needed to exit an area, then a 60 inch diameter turning space or a 36 inch wide "T" is needed. The space for a "T" turn requires at least 36 inches of width for each segment of the T and it must fit within a 60 inch by 60 inch area. If access is not provided to all sales areas, then alternative services such as having staff available to retrieve items, must be provided, if doing so is readily achievable. This also applies when merchandise is located in areas served only by stairs.
It is not necessary to locate all merchandise within reach of people who use wheelchairs. Items can be placed at any height but staff should be available to assist customer who may have difficulty reaching or viewing items..including reading labels to people with a visual impairment.
Sales and Service
..counters must be accessible, if readily achievable. This access is an important part of receiving the goods and services provided by a business.
At counter having a cash register, a section of counter at least 36 inches long and not more than 36 inches above the floor will make the counter accessible. (or auxiliary counter nearby. ..sales and service counter must have a clear floor space in front of the accessible surface that permits a customer using a wheelchair to pull alongside. This space is at least 30 inches by 48 inches and may be parallel or perpendicular to the counter. It is also connected to the accessible route which connects to the accessible entrance and other ares in the business where merchandise or services are provided. If not, table or desk, clip board or lap board for interim.
Checkout aisles.. have different requirement. An accessible checkout aisle should provide a minimum of a 36-inch-wide access aisle and it should be identified by a sign with the international symbol of accessibility mounted over the aisle. The counter adjacent to the accessible checkout aisle has a maximum height of 38 inches. If a lip is provided between the counter and the checkout aisle, its maximum height is 40 inches.
The number of accessible aisles that is needed depends on the total number of checkout bastilles provided. 1-4: 1, 5-8: 2. Each type of checkout, including express lanes, must have an accessible checkout aisle.
No higher than 34 inches and min. of 60inches long. If can't then assistance. Self-service restaurants with a food service line must provide adequate maneuvering space. Min. width 36 inches, 42 preferred, extra if a turn. Or else an accessible route around the queuing area. Condiments etc. mo more than 54 inches high if side reach is possible, 48 for forward reach. Lower sections, knee cutouts also allowed.
Fixed Seating and
If fixed tables/ booths 5% or 1 if less than 20 must be accessible such as by having removable chairs. also applies to outside seating. Table height 34" maximum, 28" minimum. Knee clearance 27". Clear floor are 30"x 48" at least 19" under table. Note, a "designated area" is not permissible.
Policies and Procedures
(Any that exclude or limit participation on an equal basis have to be changed. Service animals must be permitted. Locked accessible entrances must be open in business hours unless there is bell etc. as per earlier. No designated areas.
Communicating with Customers
Be flexible and ask the customer their preferred means of communicating. Every effort must be made to accommodate TTY, TDD and relay communications and calling.
Tax Credits and Deductions
Section 44 of the IRS Code provided a credit to cover costs of barrier removal for small businesses and Section 190 deduction for all businesses. There are ruse an limits.
New Construction and Alterations
These must meet or exceed the minimum requirements. Assume that if the work is more than maintenance such as painting, it's new/alteration. Note, when a local accessibility code exists, you must follow both it and the ADA requirements.
ADA Information sources, below.
Social Security benefits
There are incentives that may allow you to keep receiving Social Security Disability or Supplemental Income benefits for a period of time even though you go back to work. But you must inform the office that you will be working and your earnings. Meet with your Benefits Planner at Mayors Office People w Disabilities and keep copies of all pay records. Benefits Planning, Assistance an Outreach can tell you exact effects on you. 312 746-5743, TTY 312 746-5713. How much you can keep depends on past earning, level of current earnings, work and disability related expenses.
If you ave to quit, you can appeal for expedited reinstatement (sometimes immediate or receive temporary benefits and Medicare/Medicaid up to 6 months.
What is "Ticket to Work"? A paper voucher from Social Security to an "Employment Network" (agency, org.) for free employment services and supports. One is Illinois Dept. of Human Services/Division of Rehabilitation Services --see in resources, below. Other networks- look there under Maximus-yourtickettowork.com.
Health Insurance- keeping Medicare or Medicaid while working
You can keep Medicare after going back to work for at least 12 months and continue if still considered disabled by Social Security. For information on prescription kick in, go to www.makemedicarework.org.
1619(b) Medicaid:You can keep Medicaid if earnings are over $830 a month but still qualify for SSI or if over SI limits but under $28,686 (subject to annual change) annually. In these circumstances your assets have to be under 2,000 excluding home and one car.
If none of these, Medicaid is still possible under some circumstances by paying a monthly premium- call Illinois Department of Public Aid 800 226-0768, TTY 675-8440, www.hbwdillinois.com.
Employer plans. Look for t he plans that cover doctor and hospital with small deductible or co-lay and prescriptions, without a waiting period for pre-existing. If you need to keep your present doctors, an HMO may not be for you. Pre-existing cannot be excluded over 12 months--and not at all if you were in a group plan within past 12 months (federal law.) See the Illinois Dept. of Insurance site in resources, below or call.
You can also buy a state pan (I-CHIP) but there are drawbacks incl. no pre-exist. coverage first 6 months, and it can be very expensive.
Discrimination. ADA makes discrimination illegal based on disabilities in all phases of employment including recruitment, hiring, promotion, training, lay-off, pay, firing, job assignments, benefits.
A disability is a "physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity."
A reasonable accommodation is any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified person with a disability to participate in the job application process and/or to do a job successfully. The accommodation can't create "undue hardship" for the employer. Reasonable accommodations can include part-time or modified work schedules; reassignment to a less demanding position; additional breaks to take medications or follow a strict diet; and locating a workstation closer to a restroom, parking lot,or lounge. You must ask for the accommodation. Employers do not have to be accommodation-ready. On the other hand, you do not need to disclose your health or disability except what's nec. to request accommodation.
Information: U.S. Dept. of Labor's Job Accommodation Network. 800 526-7234, www.jan.wvu.edu. Also check the Great Lakes ADA adm Accessible IT Center, 800 949-4232 and www.adagreatlakes.org.
Employers cannot ask questions whether they have or about their disability or require an exam before a job offer. After an offer is made, you may be required to take an exam only to the extent that all persons in the classification must take an exam upon job offer. If the offer is rescinded after exam, the employer must show that the reasons are job related and necessary for running the business and that no reasonable accommodation is available. Note, results of all medical exams and information must be confidential and maintained in separate files.
FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act)
Up to 12 weeks generally unpaid must be available for those who meet eligibility and working 25 or more hours a week in firms employing 50 or more. You must give up to 30 days notice (not less than 2) before the leave, make certain disclosures, which may have to be certified. Employer must maintain health coverage as under group plan.
Remember that when you go back to work, you may lose any Social Security "judgment proof" declaration on old debts.
View/print this section by itself.
The governing act, running along side ADA and the Carl Perkins Act is the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 with 1998 amendments for increased opportunity. Persons with disabilities have a right to services under the act.
List of parent and adult resources under the act is in the section on Rehabilitation Resources, near end of this page.
The Act ensures that vocational rehabilitation services wil be made available to those determine eligible through state departments of rehabilitation services, aiming at full inclusion in the community, gainful employment, recreation, and other aspects of an everyday life. This includes by law right to:
- enjoy self-determination
- make choices
- live independently
- pursue meaningful careers
- enjoy full inclusion and integration in all aspects including education mainstream of society.
Transition services for life after high school (Get in touch with agencies and start no later than age 16)
Assessment of Eligibility.Have a counselor assigned by state Division of Rehabilitation Services.
(Illinois: Division of Rehabilitation Services. 80o 843-6154, TTY 447-6404.
Division of Rehabilitation Services Ticket to Work Unit.(Same website as above.)
800 795-9973, TTY 800 524-9904. Provides information about DRS's role as an Employment Network.)
You will need information on income, medical history, your plans, education, other data that might help eligibility.
Law provides that a decision be made within 60 days unless mutually extended. Be sure a counselor is assigned.
Vocational Rehabilitation. VR is designed to improve skills for adult life through, among others, education, training, getting a job, living on your own, connecting in the community. Develop an Individualized Plan For Employment (IPE) in writing with your counselor. It should reflect your interests and choices.
Vocational Assessments. With your counselor you can, for example, review your records, training and experience- be sure to take full account of volunteer and extra-curricular activities! You may be asked to go for skill trials. From all of these, set your goals and put them in your IPE.
Employment. You are presumed to be able to work--you do not have to prove it. Your employment goal, including hours and various support have to be suitable to you as an individual. Your counselor must help you find and keep the job.
Independent Living. Your counselor should provide information and referrals to help you with this. Get more information on Centers for Independent Living from the state Parent Training and Information Center.
(Illinois: Family Resource Center on Disabilities-FRCD, 20 E. Jackson room 300 60604 312 939-3513, TDD 939-3519, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.frcd.org.)
Accountability. You have a right to information and advice about benefits through Client Assistance Program (information about from Rehabilitation Services). Information on available services and benefits, advocacy services, assistance with mediation or a hearing.
If you have been denied access to transition services, vocational rehabilitation service, employment opportunities (hiring, promotion, training, benefits that you are qualified for), recreation and other community programs, opportunity to participate in or benefit from federally funded programs:
you can file a written complaint with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within 180 days.
See Rehabilitation Resources below.
Issues of seniors often converge with those of other pedestrians and the disabled.
The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has a major push on to make drivers more aware of what they can do to be saver for bicyclists--some drastic ways of getting on some drivers' radar may be tried.
The Federation is working with national organizations and boards to push a Compete streets agenda. Chicago endorsed it- all streets are to be able to accommodate all modes, including cyclists and those crossing on foot. The National Center for Bicycling Walking is pushing this and has a newsletter called Centerline. http://www.activeliving.org.
Friends of the Parks, the Architecture Foundation and others will have a display up January 25-March 10 on completing and making accessible the last 4 miles of the lakefront at the Archicenter, 224 S. Michigan.
The federation is working with the National Safe Routes to School Task Force. http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/task_force/task_force_members.cfm. SRTSC@tooledesign.com.
Such general issues as poor sidewalks (recently strongly noted is that along the north edge of Jackson Park 56th Street) and nests of rats can quickly lead to injuries for seniors and the disabled.
Highlights of new federal regulations on the Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Issued August 14, 2006 after comments on the 2005 reauthorization of Education for All Handicapped Children. From the Family Resource Center on Disabilities, 312 939-3513.
Evaluations. To be within 60 cal. days of receipt of parental consent, only one a year without consent.
Learning Disability Evaluation. State must adopt rules with a scientific research-based process; parents must be notified of the process and criteria.
Independent Evaluations. Only one independent evaluation will be paid for by the public.
Least Restrictive Environment. Close to home, in the school that would have been attended, with supplementary aids provided.
IEP Meetings. Skipping meeting if both parties agree on change.
IEPs. Need short-term objectives only for those with disabled who take alt. assessment, transition beginning no later than age 16.
Surgically Implanted Devices. School need no supply but must monitor and maintain.
Parentally Placed Children. District is responsible even if in private; private school teachers giving equitable services do not have to meet high spec. ed requirements.
Conflict Resolution and Discipline. (Parent should read these rules carefully with someone familiar such as with FRCD.
In 2000 Bell discovered the body of his his slain mother and was subjected to Chicago Police interrogation for over 50 hours, subsequently confessing. Bell intermittently was homeless, had mental disabilities, and sold Streetwise on 57th. Thanks to the intervention of many friends, the Mandel Clinic sued for DNA evidence that eventually cleared Bell and then filed a civil suit on his behalf that resulted in a $2 million settlement delivered October 10, 2006 (which still needed City Council direction for payment as of this writing). Futteman told the U of C Chronicle that the police procedures still occur despite changes in state law that include videotaping of interrogation and confessions. Bell wished to thank the folks at Mandel and the many others in the community who supported him.
The University is inviting the community to view and comment upon its new disabilities, Physical Access Plan. Visit draft at http://provost.uchicago.edu/initiatives/physicalaccessplan.shtml. Comment by October 22 2007 to Ingrid Gould email@example.com.
Chicago Maroon May 22, 2007. By Rhema Hokama
Students returning to campus this fall will notice subtle changes across the quads, as the University continues work to bring campus buildings into compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Structural enhancements to improve accessibility are scheduled for Walker Hall, Rosenwald Hall, and the Law School over the next few months, said Ingrid Gould, associate provost and assistant vice president, in an e-mail interview.
The planned improvements are the result of a 2006 out-of-court settlement between the University and the Department of JUstice (DOJ). The settlement followed a two-year review process, initiated by the DOJ, evaluating campus accessibility.
"The agreement focuses primarily on improving the accessibility of campus buildings . It also addresses signage, transportation, campus pathways, and a few other topics," Gould said. The University initiated some campus renovations as early as 1992 but must be fully ADA-compliant by 2010 under the terms of the settlement.
Gould said that the University is committee to following through with the terms of the settlement. "In the context of the agreement, the University has met all deadlines to date, including those related to transportation, signage, and web-based accessibility information," she said.
According to Gould, the University's assessment of building accessibility is still underway. So far Cobb Hall, Harper Library, the Reynolds Club, and International House have been targeted for repairs and renovations in the upcoming years. Gould acknowledged that many of the University's older buildings cannot be made fully compliant with ADA standards due to architectural limitations. "It is important to understand, as the law itself acknowledges, many old buildings cannot meet compliance standards applied to new construction," she said.
"For example, elevator shafts may be non-existent or too small, or the space available may be too short for a ramp of requisite slope. This means that accessibility on a campus of many old buildings is not a perfectly consistent concept." Despite the accessibility limitations of several older campus facilities, Gould said that the University expects to continue expanding campus accessibility past the 2010 deadline in order to provide students options beyond the minimum ADA requirements. "[S]ome individuals have accessibility needs that exceed the ADA guidelines. The University has accommodated those needs, and we are committed to continuing to do so," Gould said.
Brian Shaw, director of transportation and parking services at the University, echoed Gould's sentiments. Shaw said that the University transportation office provides services for students with special needs that go beyond the basic ADA guidelines. "The Dial-a-Ride program is for qualified students with permanent medical disabilities, determined by the dean of students," Shaw said. "Dial-a-Ride is not required [under the AdA], but we provide this service because we feel it's safer for students [who have special needs]."
Shaw said that the Dial-a-Ride program existed prior to last year's settlement, and that the transportation office expects to continue offering non-ADA required services for students in the future. "The Dial-a-Ride program hasn't changed in a number of years. It's run through a private provider and is available to qualified students 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he said.
Although the DOJ settlement did not provide specific guidelines for transportation, the settlement prompted the transportation office to initiate a review of existing University transportation services last summer, Shaw said. "[The settlement] didn't really identify anything in particular that needed improvement. It was really a blanket statement and just stated that we needed to become compliant with ADA standards. It didn't really target any service or need," he said. "We looked into this last summer, we looked at all the services we were providing and determined whether they were ADA-compliant or not," he added.
The in-house review suggested that while the existing Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus routes were already fully accessible at the time of the settlement, the U of C late night van service was not ADA-compliant. .."It was ultimately decided that the late-night van service would be transitioned to my department [from the U of C police] with fully compliant vehicles." ...The same private contractor also operates the evening bus routes, shaw added. ..."Basically my department i fully accessible [under ADAS requirements]. The determination for compliance is whether your vehicles are 100-perccent accessible, and there's no doubt about it, we're compliant," he said.
Financially, Shaw said that funding has not been an impediment in the effort for greater accessibility in University transportation services. The cost of running the new accessible vehicles is not significantly higher than it was under the old transportation system.
[But] the University's total expenditure on renovations has totaled in the tens of millions, Gould said. While the University does not yet know the costs of accessibility projects in upcoming years, Gould said that the administration projects high costs for future campus expansion and renovation. "The costs of complying with the agreement will be considerable. Construction is expensive, and we want our projects completed in keeping with the elegance and quality that our community merits and our campus expresses," Gould said. Top
Chicago Maroon, October 9, 2007. By Connie Hsiung
The Office of the Provost announced last week that a draft of its new Physical Access Plan, the document that will dictate a series of updates and improvements to campus buildings in order to comply with federal regulations for handicapped accessibility, is ready for review by the University community.
The plan, posted on the provost's website, seeks first to improve accessibility for the disabled in nearly every building on campus, with its extensive list of building improvements targeting restrooms, drinking fountains, building entrances, dining hall seating and servery accessibility, and signs, among other things.
The University additionally plans to update graduate and undergraduate dormitories and apartments to reach compliance with the regulations.
The construction projects will affect a substantial number of buildings on campus, but since most are relatively minor, the provost's office anticipates minimal disruption. Current estimates show that most alterations should be completed in the next two years, with only a few exceptions for projects in newer buildings.
In addition to building alterations, the plan calls for new or improved pathways between campus buildings. "these improvements include amelioration of cross slopes; repair of uneven, spalling, or cracked concrete; and modification of curb cuts," reads the report, which includes maps of the proposed repair sites.
The plan also calls for a new approach to maintaining "accessible features," giving first priority to repairing or caring for accessibility equipment--items as diverse as automatic door operators and hearing aids. Administrators will further place an emphasis on monitoring demand for such resources as parking spots.
"Administrative meetings [will be] scheduled with individual new students wit6h disabilities to ensure they are personally given detailed information that is relevant to them and their needs and to brief them on how to report an access problem they encounter," the plan says.
According to one physically disabled student who asked to remain anonymous, the proposed changes are a welcome change from years past. "The University has gotten a lot better since I came here in 2004," she said. "When I first go here, it was a sort of 'come at your own risk' arrangement." The student said that until this year, disabled students had had to create their own personal evacuation plans, without any help from the University.
Now, those who wish to identify themselves as requiring assistance during an emergency can fill out a survey detailing the type of aid required, and then "OSEA [Occupational Safety and Environmental Association] will work with the individual, his or her supervisor, Assistant Director of Housing, and the relevant building manager(s) to develop a Personal Emergency Plan for assisting that individual in evacuating or sheltering-in-place in case of an emergency," according to the University's disabilities web site.
The Office of the Provost's website welcomes comments and queries about its draft of the Physical Access Plan until October 22.
Visit draft at http://provost.uchicago.edu/initiatives/physicalaccessplan.shtml. Comment by October 22 2007 to Ingrid Gould firstname.lastname@example.org. Top
Chicago won in 2006 an Accessible America Contest of the National Organization on Disability (NOD). The city has a goal of being the most accessible city in the nation. But 60 percent of working age disabled are unemployed, which the Mayor calls "unacceptable".
Starting Summer 2007, the key summer program/umbrella for disabled young people is the YouthWorks program of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD, see below in next section), Commissioner Karen Tamley and the Department of Children and Youth Services (CYS), which oversees the city's summer jobs program in general.
The program is very small so far- 40 youths in 30 venues. Karen McCulloh, who spoke at the Hyde Park Disabilities Forum and heads disabilityworks, (according to StreetWise) told the YouthWorks kickoff breakfast that employers are still by-and-large unwilling to ire a person with disability. Young people especially need a boost before graduation, CYS Commissioner Mary Ellen Caron said, especially to learn the world of work, skills, attitude, potential and experience with success.
The program starts through the entire year before: Groundhog Job Shadow Week (with CPS), Disability Mentoring day, and a six-week TeenBuild program.
More in Helpline (browse especially Emergencies, One Stop Centers, Addiction/Recovery, Battered/Abused, Business/Consumer complaints/obligations/workers comp., Children/Youth, Counseling, Disability, Employment, Personal Finance, Food/meals, Healthcare, Hospice, Housing, Legal, Parents, Seniors, Tax rebates, Women to see the many resources right here in our neighborhood and the Mid-South Side. More in Community Resources, Government Services, Affordable housing and living homepage, Ending Homelessness.
City programs and links
Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. 312 744-4441, 312 744-4964 TTY. 121 N. LaSalle room 1104. Try also 312 746-5743 and TTY 312 746-5713. www.cityofchicago.org/Disabilities.
see section above.
(Contact also Mayor's Office on Workforce Development. 1615 W. Chicago. (312) 746-7777, find in www.cityofchicago.org.)
Disability Works (led by Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce) is an outgrowth of the Mayor's Task Force on Disabilities and is an employment preparer and connector. www.disabilityworks.org.
Visit also on line in Chicago: www.FRCD.org.
Resource Center on Disabilities. 20 E. Jackson Blvd., Room 300,
Chicago, IL 60604. 312 939-3513, Fax 312 939-7297. http://www.frcd.org.
Works for parents of children
and person with disabilities, including on the Special Education, IDEA and Rehab
Workforce Development also has One Stop Career Centers for the disabled and others seeking employment, such at the one at 714 E. 47th st. (Cottage Grove). 773 538-5627, TTY 773 538-8260. See also Mid-South Workforce Center at the King Center, 4314 S. King. Check also with Abraham Lincoln Center. See more in Employment in our Helpline page.
Martin Luther King Center including Mid-South Workforce Center, at 4314 S. Cottage Grove. Part of Employee and Employer Services. 773 538-5727, http://www.eesforjobs.com. www.exu.ilstu.edu/ncist/onestops.phtml. http://www.illinoisworknet.com. Satelite? 715 E. 47th St.
The Chicago One-Stop Career Centers are designed to provide all job seekers, regardless of age, race, or disability, with easier access to services and resources related to employment. Most do have eligibility requirements. There are six centers, some may offer the services not at 47th and Cottage. The services include:
Other Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities help:
Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach Project. (Info. regarding disability benefits and work, what happens when you go back to work.) 312 746-5743, TTY 746-5713.
Architectural Services Unit provides consultative services and technical assistance to business owners, architects and developers who are renovating or constructing a commercial, residential or public accommodation facility to ensure accessibility to and by people with disabilities, including the new options under the 2004 Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.
Professional staff is available to answer questions about the rights and responsibilities of business owners, employees and consumers under ADA, Fair Housing (FHAA), Illinois Accessibility J)IAC), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Chicago Building Code.
Architectural services include Plan review for accessibility compliance as part of permit process, training for compliance, disabled parking signs.
HomeMod. Through this program homes are modified to provide accessibility. Features include lifts, ramps,. wide doors, accessible kitchens and bathrooms. Program is open to home owners and renters with disabilities. Provides grants up to $10,000 to homeowners up to age 55.
The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) have jointly established a new position, the Disability Program Navigator, within DOL’s One-Stop Career Centers.
The Disability Program Navigator helps people with disabilities “navigate” through the enormous challenges of seeking work. Complex rules surrounding entitlement programs, along with fear of losing cash assistance and health benefits, can often discourage people with disabilities from working. DOL and SSA have established the Disability Program Navigator initiative to better inform beneficiaries and other individuals with disabilities about the work support programs now available at DOL-funded One-Stop Career Centers. These centers provide information, training and other employment-related services at a single customer-friendly location. DOL’s Employment and Training Administration and SSA’s Office of Program Development and Research signed an Interagency Agreement in September 2002 to jointly fund, implement, pilot, and evaluate the Navigator initiative with on-going collaboration of DOL’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.
· Approximately 120 Navigator positions have been established in FY 2003, with another 80-100 positions to be added in FY 2004.
· DOL, with input from SSA, has entered into cooperative agreements with the state level workforce system in 14 states where SSA is undertaking employment support initiatives: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
· DOL and SSA are training the Navigators on SSA employment support programs, One-Stop partner funded programs, and other programs that impact successful employment.
· DOL and SSA are working together to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the Navigator pilot.
· Disability Program Navigators are hired and employed by the state or local workforce system.
DOL awarded grants to 14 states in June 2003.
The first Navigators were hired in the fall of 2003.
The Disability Program Navigator Position
· Assist people with disabilities to access and navigate the complex provisions of various programs that impact their ability to gain, return to, or retain employment.
· Develop linkages and collaborate on an ongoing basis with employers to facilitate job placements for persons with disabilities.
· Facilitate the transition of in- or out-of-school youth with disabilities to secure employment and economic self-sufficiency.
· Conduct outreach to agencies and organizations that serve people with disabilities.
· Serve as a resource on SSA’s work incentive and employment support programs and the provision of services through Benefits Planning, Assistance and Outreach organizations (BPAOs); Protection and Advocacy systems (P&As); and SSA’s employment-related demonstration projects.
· Serve as a resource to the workforce investment community to ensure the availability of comprehensive knowledge of Federal, State, local and private programs that impact the ability of persons with disabilities to enter and remain in the workforce.
Rehabilitation Services resources
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services
U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 3006-MES, Washington, DC 20202-2500,
Office of Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue Sw, Room 515F-Humphrey Bldg., Washington, DC 20001, 202-619-0403
Disabilities Rights Section (ADA)
U. S. Department of Justice, P.O. 66738, Washington, DC 20035-6738,
800-514-0301, TDD 800-514-0383
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
1801 L Street, Washington, DC 20507, 800-669-3362, 800-669-3302
- Division of Rehabilitation Services. 80o 843-6154, TTY 447-6404.
- Division of Rehabilitation Services Ticket to Work Unit.(Same website as above.)
800 795-9973, TTY 800 524-9904. Provides information about DRS's role as an Employment Network.
- Family Resources Center on Disabilities (FRCD). 20 E. Jackson Blvd., Room 300, Chicago, IL 60604,
312-939-3513l, TDD 312-939-3519, email@example.com, www.frcd.org.
Other service providers
Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago. 614 W. Roosevelt Rd. 312 253-7000, TTY 312 253-7002. Provides information regarding disability issues, rights and resources, especially for housing.
ADA Business Connection of the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section. Including on Service Dogs. Department's ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0302 or TTY 800 514-0383 or visit the ADA Business Connection at www.ada.gov.
ADAPT (nonviolent advocacy including sit-in style for living in community is houses. Actions, conferences in Chicago) 512 442-0252.
Chicago Bar Association can be contacted for information on Social Security Disability. 321 S, Plymouth.312 554-2000.
C.A.R.C. Chicago Association for Retarded Citizens. Local at 5333 S. Greenwood. 773 241-5700.
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce- disabilityworks. 330 N. Wabash. 312 494-6700. Also given as Jenifer Schindl, Managing Director, Chicaogland Business Leadership Network, 200 E. Randolph, Suite 2200, Chicago, Illinois 60601, www.disabilityworks.org.
In conjunction with the City, it works both ways--helping people to real jobs and opening doors in businesses for the disabled. It will advocate and sue as well as educate on the law and the value of the disabled--and their wealth--to business.
Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. Incl. Industries, Legal Clinic. 1850 W. Roosevelt Rd. 60608. 312 666-1331 (gen. offices).
Chicago Southside Autism Support Group. 1634 E. 53rd St. #117. www.csasg.org. Meetings, information, respite care, summer recreation.
Chicago Workforce Board. Ready to Work Guide , a quick reference for people with disabilities who want to work, can be downloaded from their website, www.chicagoworkforceboard.com. Works with Health and Disability Advocates (see below).
Community Resource Network (affiliated with DOORS nationally). Creates volunteer opportunities for skill building and employability for persons with disabilities including veterans. 312 491-7800. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Council on Disability Rights. 312 444-0484, TTY 312 444-1967. Information, referrals and employment-related services.
D.A.R.E.- Disabled Adult Residential Enterprises. 1616 E. 55th St. 773 667-7313. http://www.hpdare.com. email@example.com. (not sure if latter is current.) Self run with contracted manager Tailor-Made. Becoming active and a coordinator in disabilities community advocacy.
Equip for Equality. Advancing the rights, inclusion and ability to cope of adults and children with disabilities. Includes legal representation. Main office is at 20 N. Michigan Suite 300. 800 537-2631 or 312 341-0022 or 800 537-2632. TTY 800 610-2779 . firstname.lastname@example.org.
Family Resource Center on Disabilities. 20 E. Jackson Blvd., Room 300, Chicago, IL 60604. 312 939-3513, TDD 312 939-3519, outside area 800-952-4199. Fax 312 939-7297. http://www.frcd.org. Email email@example.com. Exec. Dir. Michelle Phillips.
FRIDA. - Feminist Responses in Disabilities. Not found
Great Lakes ADA and Accessible IT Center. 800 949-4232 voice and TTY. Provides resources for all matters related to the ADA Act.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind (Bill Jurek). www.guidingeyes.org. Located in New England, it is one of the largest of just a few places that train and provided service dogs.
Health and Disability Advocates. 312 223-9600, TTY 800 427-0766. Provides assistance with SSDI/SI issues related to work incentives and employment supports and speakers on these issues. 312 223-9600, TTY 800 427-0766.
Illinois Attorney General's Office. In Chicago, Disability Rights Bureau, 100 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, Illinois 60601, 312 814-5684, TTY 312 814-3374. Violations of the Guide Dog Access Act or White Cane Law, instances of discrimination or non accommodation.
Illinois Department of Human Services. 800 720-4166, TTY 800 447-6404. Provides information about and eligibility for Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, food stamps, and other services.
Illinois Department of Insurance. 877 527-9431, TTY 312 814-2603. Health insurance.
Illinois Department of Public Aid. 800 226-0768, TTY 866-675-8440. Provides information about and eligibility for Medicaid for individuals with disabilities who are employed. Illinois this program is known as Health Benefits for Workers with disabilities (HBWD).
Illinois Office of Consumer Health Insurance. Also www.chip.state.il.us.866 851-2751, TTY 800 545-2455. Provides information about I-CHIP. (Will find out what that is.)
Illinois Rx Buying Club. 866 215-3462, TTY 866 215-3479. Provides options for purchasing some subscriptions at discounted prices.
Job Accommodation Network. 800 526-7234 (V/TYY). Provides resources for and describes means of reasonable accommodations.
Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago. 312 341-1070, TTY 312 431-1206. Information and assistance for civil legal issues.
Make Medicare Work Coalition. 312 288-9600, TTY 427-0766. Information about Medicare Part D. Part of Health and Disability Advocates.
Maxims. 866 968-7842, TTY 866 8333-2967. Provides information regarding the Ticket to Work and Employment Networks.
Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security.800 537-2632, TTY 800 610-2779. Part of Equip for Equality. Provides information for SSI/SSDI Beneficiaries with employment and Ticket to Work related issues.
Social Security Administration. 800 772-1213, TTY 800 325-0778. Chicago Bar Association can also be contacted for information on Social Security Disability. 321 S, Plymouth.312 554-2000.
U.S. Department of Labor- Job Accommodation Network. 800 526-7234 (V/TYY). Provides resources for and describes means of reasonable accommodations.
(Employing - see Employment in Helpline page.)
U.S. Department of Justice, Small Business Administration, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and other put out publications and take cases.
Rights/ADA and U.S. Small Business Administration: the Americans with Disabilities
Act ADA Guide for Small Businesses, which
includes much more detail and many more subjects (including tax credits) and
Call the Small Business Administration at 800 827-5722 or http://www.sba.gov. or
Department of Justice ADA Information Line, 800 515-0301, TTY 800 514-0383.
Free web course on ADA sponsored by the Department of Justice:
ADA Information sources. Department of Justice 24 hour- 800 514-0301, TTY 800 514-0383. http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm
Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers . 800 949-4232
Access Board- technical assistance on ADA Accessibility Guidelines. 800 872-2252, TTY 800 993-2822, http://www.access-board.gov
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EE)C) (for bus. of 15 or more employees). Employment questions. 800 669-4000, TTY 800 669-6920
Small Business Administration. 800 827-5722 (800 UASKSBA). http:/www.sba.gov
ADA Information File should be at local libraries.