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Columbia County Official Honored for Aiding Persons with Disabilities

June 3, 2015
Source: The Columbia County News-Times, GA

Columbia Countys emergency management director was recognized for providing people with disabilities “equal access to information and services” on Friday.

Pam Tucker was honored for “nondiscrimination” and “quality inclusion” of [people with disabilities] during the Americans with Disabilities [Act (ADA)] Legacy Bus Tour through Evans.

The yearlong exhibit is making stops in major cities to celebrate the laws 25th anniversary and raise awareness about ongoing issues, including [accessible parking] enforcement, availability of wheelchair-access ramps and fair job interviews for those who are disabled.

Since 2000, 28 cities and counties in the Southeast have agreed to settlements with the Justice Department as part of Project Civic Access, an effort to eliminate physical and communication barriers preventing people with disabilities from participating fully in community life.

Augusta, [Georgia]is just now working toward satisfying several goals outlined in its 2007 ADA Access Plan, including identifying a consultant and adopting a grievance procedure to resolve disability complaints.

Some say the slow pace is an example of how Augustas lack of accessible public facilities and lax enforcement of the states [accessible parking] law continue to segregate those with disabilities by limiting their ability to attend community activities and participate in local government.

“We have made a lot of progress in removing the architectural barriers people with disabilities face, but we still have many attitudinal barriers in providing equal rights in public transportation, quality jobs and health care for [people with disabilities], which is about 25 percent of the U.S. population,” said Tiffany Clifford, the executive director of Walton Options for Independent Living.

To cap a four-day ADA celebration, Cliffords organization rewarded Tucker, payroll service provider ADP, and the Family Y of Greater Augusta for their leadership in providing equal outreach and employment practices, and creating accessible recreational environments activities for [people with disabilities].

“Providing timely information and services is crucial for everybody, including those that are disabled,” said Rusty Welsh, Columbia Countys deputy emergency management director, in accepting the award on behalf of Tucker, who was out of town.

“Its key to residents planning and living their daily lives, and we want to make sure we do all we can to help them be safe and successful,” he said.

The Augusta Commissions finance committee made steps this week to address ADA issues by authorizing $125,000 in salary and benefits for a new director to oversee ADA compliance.

Since 2011, the Richmond County Sheriffs Office has ticketed just 38 people for [accessible parking] violations, records show.

By comparison, Columbia County has ticketed 2,367 violators in the past four years, with most citations being issued by 10 beat officers and an eight-deputy bike patrol.

“Richmond County needs to get on the stick and understand theyre hurting themselves with lax enforcement of handicapped parking violations,” said Michael Atwood, a 61-year-old Vietnam-era Navy veteran.

Link: Go to website for News Source
http://newstimes.augusta.com/news/2015-06-03/columbia-county-official-honored-for-aiding-disabled


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