Community Projects Help People With Disabilities

08/03/05  Portland, Ore.

The Center for Community Accessibility, a program of the Oregon Institute on Disability and Development at Oregon Health & Science University, has awarded funds to four organizations in the state to increase community access for people with disabilities.

The Center for Community Accessibility, a program of the Oregon Institute on Disability and Development at Oregon Health & Science University, has awarded funds to four organizations in the state to increase community access for people with disabilities.

The Community Environmental Assessment Project, a three-year project funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, is a project of the Center on Community Accessibility. The goal of the project is to develop a methodology for assessing and increasing accessibility for people with disabilities, and to disseminate the information to those interested in applying the methodology in their communities.

The four awards, in the amount of $10,000 each, were given to two governmental organizations and to two grassroots disability organizations.

Community Solutions of Clackamas County in Oregon City was awarded funds to increase employment opportunities for people who are managing mental illness. Community Solutions works toward creating effective resolutions to work force development and business productivity. The goal of Community Solutions' project is to develop educational DVD/CD-ROM and print materials on competitive employment for those managing mental illness. Targeted specifically to employers and used in conjunction with presentations to potential employers, Community Solutions hopes to use the educational materials to dispel myths surrounding mental illness and the work place, and to increase competitive employment opportunities for people who are managing mental illness.

The city of Union, Ore., submitted a proposal to increase the accessibility of city programs and services. Union's plan includes a partial renovation of city hall to increase the physical accessibility of the building. The renovation includes lowering the countertops for people in wheelchairs, installing an automatic door for people with mobility impairments, physically relocating services to the ground floor where stairs are not a barrier, and reviewing and modifying city ordinances to increase access to government programs and services.

Independent Living Resources, a nonprofit, community service organization in Portland dedicated to promoting independence for people with disabilities, is collaborating with city, county, state and federal parks' partners to develop a checklist to assess the accessibility of recreational sites. The information obtained from use of the checklist will be posted on a Web site and will help people with disabilities make informed decisions when planning recreational outings. This work will be done mostly in the Portland metropolitan and Columbia Gorge areas.

Central Oregon Resources for Independent Living, Bend., Ore., is a nonprofit organization that provides services promoting independence and productivity for people with disabilities. This organization is working toward increasing the accessibility of temporary events held annually throughout the region by collaborating with event planners, and providing resources and referrals to help the planners create events accessible to consumers with disabilities. Much of the Bend project extends throughout Central Oregon including Sisters, LaPine, Madras, Redmond and Prineville.

The Community Environmental Assessment Project had issued a request for proposals to Oregon organizations whose work is focused in the areas of education, health care, employment, parks and recreation, government programs and services, transportation, housing, and technology. Applicants were asked to identify barriers to access and to outline ideas for removing the barriers with the input of people with disabilities. It is anticipated that projects will be completed by Sept. 30, 2005.