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Chicago Receives Accessible America Award

By Timmy Watson in News on Jan 14, 2007 5:10PM

In March of 2006 the National Organization on Disability announced its finalists for the Accessibly America Awards. The announcement of the winners came on Thursday. Coming in first place was Berkeley, CA and our fair city came in second. Receiving a $10,000 award from Wal-Mart, our city was recognized for incorporating and continuing to promote the assimilation of the disabled into community life.

07_01_14_accessiblebus.jpgOne remarkable aspect of the city of Chicago coming in second is that this award seems like it would be tailored to smaller communities. Past winners include Cambridge, MA, Pasadena, CA, Phoenix, AZ, Irvine, CA and Venice, FL, which aren't tiny by any means, but in no way compare to the size of Chicago. Close knit communities have historically had more success in implementing innovative plans that target specific groups of people.

The organization identified a few specific reasons why the city has been recognized,

"...included rewriting of the city building code to mandate adaptable and visitable requirement in privately and governmentally owned and financed units; the creation of a Mayoral Task Force on Employment of People with Disabilities; a certification program for business enterprises owned and operated by people with disabilities."
They didn't include our handicapped parking spot program, which provides accessible spots throughout the city to those both with disabilities and those without them.

The reasoning for Berkeley, CA receiving the first place award was because of their creation of the first universally designed affordable housing development and a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan for people with disabilities.