McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

April 2, 2012

Kiowa Board of Trustees told to tackle ADA accessibility issue or face possible Federal lawsuit

(Continued)

McALESTER —

“My recommendation is you get bids on the ramp and the parking lot first ...” she said.

“Well that’s going to be pretty expensive,” said Jim Ryan board of trustee member for Ward 4.

 Pulcheny said not fixing the issues would be much more expensive. “Don’t look at numbers, you have to create a plan on when and how to get this fixed,” Pulchney said. Pulchney referred the Town of Gore. “They refused to answer a request to comply and were slapped with a huge lawsuit.” 

Stephen Strickland who uses a manual wheelchair said he recently tried access Kiowa City Hall and was unable to do so. “I couldn’t even get to the door to address the reason why I was there.” 

 Strickland is an Independent Living Specialist and Living Choice Coordinator for Oklahomans for Independent Living.

“These small towns need provide access just like everywhere else,” Strickland said.

 The Americans with Disabilities Act requires government entities to remove barriers to the full participation of people with disabilities.  Government officials have a duty to ensure that people with disabilities are welcomed into the public arena. According to the American Disabilities Act, officials should also understand that their accessibility to the public should extend beyond meetings. They need to participate in public life, to attend community events, to make themselves available to the community outside of more formal governmental gatherings. They have the responsibility of taking phone calls from constituents, responding to e-mails, and generally listening to concerns and questions coming from their community. 

 “It’s about equal access,” Pulcheny said. “Someone using a wheel chair cannot experience this meeting; someone using a wheel chair would not be able to work here.”

For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smart phone.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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