County working to ensure all have access to civic life

The Washington County Board of Commissioners received an update March 10 on the county’s Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition plan.

Access to civic life by people with disabilities is a fundamental goal of the federal government. To ensure that this goal is met, the ADA requires state and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities. One important way to ensure that the law’s requirements are being met is through self-evaluation, which is required by ADA regulations. Self-evaluation enables local governments to pinpoint the facilities, programs, and services that must be modified or relocated to ensure that local governments are complying with the ADA.

Under the ADA, all “new construction” (construction, modification, or alterations) after the effective date of the ADA must be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. 

Washington County has been working over the past two years to develop a Washington County ADA Transition Plan. Development of the plan includes self-evaluation efforts to document, inventory, measure, and categorize the county’s public infrastructure.

The evaluation includes external and internal environments of county facilities. It included reviewing county policies and practices, and performing the self-evaluation, and compiling the data. From that came recommendations for new policies. The self-evaluation reviewed:

1,400-plus curb ramps;

36 buildings;

65 parking lots;

700 trail segments;

1,000-plus sidewalk segments;

30 picnic areas; and more.

The next step in the process is to engage the public at four open houses:

1 to 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at Oakdale City Hall;

4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at the Washington County Government Center;

4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 8, at the Headwaters Service Center; and

4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9, at the Cottage Grove Service Center.

After the public outreach activities, the county will prepare an ADA transition plan for the County Board to review in June, with the hope of adopting a plan in August.

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