D.C. Council reviews access to parks, jobs, business and education for people with disabilities
D.C. residents, disability-rights advocates and service providers testified Feb. 14 during the Committee on Human Service’s Performance Oversight Hearing, led by Chairwoman Brianne Nadeau.
Several of those testifying spoke about their dismay with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Education and Reform Act of 2017, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last month and would extend by four months the amount of time business owners have to address ADA compliance issues. Nadeau stated that if the bill is passed, the D.C. council may draft its own legislation to address the potential harm to disabled individuals.
Mathew McCollough, Director of the Office of Disability Rights, testified to the progress the city has made in ensuring that all public facilities are accessible to all D.C. residents. Because many of the District’s recreational centers were built recently, they are mostly ADA compliant. ADA compliance issues remain, however, with outdoor public facilities. McCollough testified that parks and playgrounds are particularly inaccessible to those who use wheelchairs.
Many of the service providers in attendance emphasized concerns with maintaining a robust workforce in the face of recent policy shifts, including an upcoming minimum-wage increase. The D.C. Coalition of Disability Service Providers testified that rising labor costs would detract from its ability to hire enough qualified workers and expressed concerns with being compensated by the District for the rising labor costs associated with Medicaid care. Nadeau announced that on March 15 the Council will hold a working-group meeting to discuss these DHS workforce development issues.