All in for the Americans with Disabilities Act

Accessibility is important. Everyone should be able to access services, facilities, transportation and more. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law aimed at ensuring people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else. It also defines the parameters that organizations must follow to be accessible to all.

The ADA is not limited to people who use wheelchairs – it includes accommodations for all mobility needs, blind people, deaf people, etc. Within the City of Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations leads ADA efforts and compliance.

In honor of the anniversary of the signing of the ADA on July 26, 1990, and as we look forward to an upcoming vote to adopt a transition plan that will outline the city’s steps to return services, facilities and more accessible infrastructure, we’ share how the city has integrated ADA into our work so far.

Rights of way

The Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) is responsible for managing public rights of way, including meeting accessibility requirements for people with disabilities. The City recognizes the full range of disabilities and strives to provide the best environment for all right-of-way users.

One of the first issues CDOT committed to addressing was sidewalk accessibility. In the past, sidewalks were designed by people who did not understand the difficulties faced by people with disabilities. For example, the sidewalks have been designed without access ramps, which makes it impossible for a person in a wheelchair to access the sidewalk. Now, requirements for curb ramps at level crossings are enforced across the city.

Accessibility must keep up with the constant evolution of technological advances and new standards. Forward thinking and collaboration with others is necessary to identify appropriate solutions. CDOT continues to be a leader in efforts to create and maintain public rights of way accessible to all users.

Transit

The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) incorporates accessibility into the design of all of its facilities. Train stations and platforms are just a few of the facilities with accessibility features that may be overlooked, but the features at these stations provide customers with tools that make it easier to use the LYNX Blue Line. Some of the features are between car barriers, accessible paths, tactile warning strips, and tactile and braille signs. Many accessibility features are subtle, but they make navigating Blue Line stations easier and safer for everyone.

Facilities

Corporate Services manages our municipal facilities and capital improvement projects. In city facilities, improvements have been made to signage, restrooms and exit routes to ensure accessibility for all. After approval of the ADA Transition Plan, non-structural facility modifications are expected to be made, prioritizing facility locations most accessible to the public. Achieving ADA compliance through planning and budgeting is the primary goal of the planning phase of facility implementation. A facility improvement plan will guide changes to programs and facilities over the next few years.

The facility improvement program will focus on:

  • Identify physical barriers in city facilities that limit the accessibility of its programs, activities or services to people with disabilities.
  • A detailed overview of the methods to be used to eliminate these barriers and comply with accessibility standards and regulations.
  • Required structural changes and schedule to comply with ADA Title II.
  • The most critical accessible exit routes.
  • Accessible signage.

Creation of websites

Web accessibility is progressing very positively, and the ADA’s transition plan will help the city’s website comply with federal guidelines. The concept of web or digital accessibility is simple: if you make something accessible to one person, you must make it accessible to everyone. The largest digital property website in town. Residents see all pages as belonging together to a single city entity, so accessibility changes should be applied to all services and pages. Here are some of the web design improvements:

  • Web links are bold, and when a user hovers or tabs, they are highlighted. It helps color blind people.
  • Phone numbers use dots instead of dashes. This will allow a screen reader to read the number as someone would say it. For example, 704 with dashes would read “seven hundred and four” instead of “seven, zero, four”.
  • Eliminate links containing phrases such as “click” and “click here”, which are not descriptive in letting someone know where the link is going.
  • Buttons have a new look, with focus on hover.
  • Add closed captions and transcripts for all videos on the website or link to YouTube.

And after

This month, an update on the ADA’s final transition plan will be presented to City Council on July 11. The ADA’s transition plan outlines the steps the city must take to make its services, facilities and infrastructure more accessible in accordance with federal standards.

We are also celebrating the anniversary of the signing of the ADA with a joint city-county proclamation on July 6 and 11.

Learn more about the city’s ADA program.

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