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Allen County Gets a "C" in ADA Survey

Lisa Ryan, WBOI News

Saturday is the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Northeast Indiana cities are still working to make the area accessible for everyone. But a disability advocacy group says things have improved since the law passed more than two decades ago.

The Northeast Indiana Disability Advocacy Coalition released a survey showing how residents feel about Allen County’s compliance with the ADA.

The survey, commissioned by Fifth Freedom, ranked Allen County on a number of subjects: barriers to public accommodations, city government’s enforcement of the ADA and whether county government is proactive with ADA accommodations.

On average, the county received a “C” grade, but James Caveda of Fifth Freedom says that grade shows progress.

“I think that even when there isn’t adherence to the ADA, it’s not a choice or a desire of them to exclude,” Caveda said. “It is just maybe a lack of awareness, not knowing how to adhere to the ADA.”

Certain areas of Allen County did better than others. Rural areas don’t have as much access to public transportation, and there isn’t as much regulation of disabled parking spaces.

Fort Wayne Public Works spokesman, Frank Suarez, says the city is making improvements every year.

“Mayor Henry has been committed to this issue for a number of years,” Suarez said. “As we said, he was the first mayor to dedicate $500,000 to fix the trip hazards and to do the funding for the additional repairs to the ADA ramps.”

Suarez says Fort Wayne has installed 18-hundred wheelchair-accessible ramps this year and modernized many intersections, but knows more progress can still be made toward helping people of all disabilities, not just those in wheelchairs.

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