Sykesville Rises To Accessibility Challenge

November 27, 1991|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Staff writer

SYKESVILLE — The Town House, much of the park system, and other public areas in this south Carroll town are well on the way to being fully handicapped-accessible.

But aside from those examples, much remains to be done around town to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, town officials say.

To meet the mandate of total handicapped-accessibility in Sykesville, the Town Council approved on Monday the appointment of Town Manager James L. Schumacher as representative to the National Organization on Disability, based in Washington, D.C.

"NOD's function basically is to promote the participation of people, cities and counties, and to pull together those different areas to reach their goals and initiatives in helping people with disabilities," Schumacher said.

Asthe town's representative, Schumacher will publicize programs and projects around the town that pertain to the issue of handicapped- accessibility.

Much of Schumacher's work will center on an ADA-required evaluation of the town's services, programs, activities, policies, procedures and practices relating to accessibility.

That evaluation, required of all municipalities, must be started by Jan. 26, 1992, and completed within one year, Schumacher said. The process must include a period for public input.

"The ADA covers a wide variety of things, not just people in wheelchairs, but the blind and deaf, for instance," said Schumacher, who was nominated for the post by Mayor Lloyd R. Helt Jr. "If a deaf person wanted to come to one of our Town Council meetings, it would be our duty to get a sign interpreter at themeeting for that person."

Schumacher said he will target three primary areas in the town in the effort to meet accessibility standards: parks, the downtown district, and public buildings, including the Town House, where the town government is headquartered.

"Our parks are very accessible, but we're looking to do something really specialwith them, such as adding handicapped-accessible trails and playground equipment," he said.

He also hopes to make the downtown district accessible to the disabled, although business owners will be responsible for their buildings.

"If the businesses have some problem ininterpreting or complying with the law, they can come to me for help," Schumacher said.

Town buildings must be accessible, as well as sidewalks and streets.

The first floor of the Town House is accessible except for the bathroom, which probably could not accommodate a wheelchair.

"When you make things accessible, it makes a better product," Schumacher said. "Like for the elderly, when you have a ramp on a sidewalk it makes it easier for them to get around. And even formothers with a baby carriage, it helps them."

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