Littleton City Council unanimously approved a plan to transition the city's facilities, services and public walkways to become more accessible for people with disabilities.
The plan, approved on May 18, seeks to make the city compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a federal law passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimintaion based on ability.
Though Littleton's council conducted a self-evaluation of its accessibility standards and crafted an ADA transition plan in 1994, no action was ever taken to adopt the measure until now.
Public Works Director Keith Reester called the vote "30 years in the making," though he said many of the guiding principles of the plan have been part of the public works department's policy for some time.
“The boots have been on the ground already," Reester said, adding that the renovation of the council chamber in the Littleton Center is an example of how the city has made progress on accessibility even without formal policy.
The updates are expected to cost nearly $89 million over the next 15 to 20 years, money which will already be baked in to the city's yearly budgets and should not require a budget increase, according to Reester.
City staffers have said the city has nearly 5,000 areas that are not ADA compliant, a third of which are walkways that are either two narrow or missing. About 80% of the costs associated with the ADA transition plan are for improving these areas, according to Reester.
Other non-compliant areas include city-owned buildings and the city's website, which is currently undergoing a revamp paid for with money from the American Rescue Plan Act.
Council's approval of the ADA transition plan comes after city staff conducted an online survey with area residents, of which staff recieved 33 public comments about the plan.
Several of the comments, according to city documents, ask if people living in Littleton with disabilities will be included in the plan's implementation, which will be overseen by an advisory team made up of city staff members.
City staff's responses to the questions do not explicity say whether people with disabilities will be included in the oversight process but that the advisory team "will reach out to members of Littleton’s various disabled communities for advice on specific issues the team may need to address."
The response also said councilmembers may decide to form a citizen-led advisory board for the plan in the future.
Staff's public outreach process did raise questions from Mayor Pro Tem Gretchen Rydin, who said traditional outreach methods like calls and emails may be hard for some people with disabilities to engage with.
Reester said his staff reached out to the Colorado Center for the Blind and ARC Thrift, a nonprofit that serves people with disabilities, to increase their outreach to disabled demographics and gain greater feedback.
As of press time, Colorado Community Media has not recieved a return for requests for comment from the center for the blind or ARC to discuss the ADA plan.
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