City Faces Lawsuits If Buildings Are Not Made Accessible
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 18, 2002
DES MOINES, IOWA--The Access Advisory Board of Des Moines says the city has a long way to go before it fully complies with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
The board, which is appointed by the city, has threatened to report the city to federal officials. The city was to outline what modifications were needed to make city-owned buildings accessible to people with disabilities by the end of 1992. Those changes then were to be completed within five years.
A plan was outlined a decade ago, according to Parks and Recreation Director Don Tripp.
"It's been, to some extent, followed," said Tripp, who represents the city on the advisory board.
But twelve years after the passage of the ADA, city buildings lack wheelchair ramps and entrances wide enough for wheelchairs; restrooms and drinking fountains are not accessible; and there still are not enough designated accessible parking spaces.
"There are some tremendous deficits that still exist in city buildings," Robert Jeppesen, executive director of the Central Iowa Center for Independent Living, told the Associated Press.
"Sometimes I won't even go into some of the buildings because I know there are accessibility problems," said Jeff Jasper, a 23-year-old Des Moines man that has cerebral palsy.
The council was to vote Monday on whether to spend $75,000 for a new review of nearly 80 buildings.
Des Moines doesn't face any fines for not meeting the ADA guidelines. Still, at a time when budgets are tight, officials say it may make more sense to address the problems now rather than face lawsuits from citizens with disabilities.