This 8,000 s.f. building now serves as the headquarters of Disability Rights and Resources to provide independent living services to people with disabilities and for future exhibits and interpretive displays. Programs will be developed according to universal design principles. Focus will be on highlighting the disability rights movement in Alabama and the United States. This facility is a gem on the civil rights trail, across from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, and will serve as a model for buildings throughout the region. All was synthesized into the overall design so no one element sticks out as just for people with disabilities. This is also a green project that re-purposes a former residential and commercial site.
The Architect and Project Designer is Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds. Accessibility Consultant is Hecker Design, and Landscape Architect is Macknally Ross Land Design. The building contractor is Stewart Perry. Office furniture was provided by Office Environments.
Universal design is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. Universal design is design for the comfort of everyone, not only those with disabilities.
Below are some of the elements of universal design that were incorporated into the building project.
1. Flush transition between parking spaces and sidewalk, eliminates the need for curb ramps.
2. Passenger loading zone at front door..a flush transition between passenger loading zone and front door approach walk, eliminating the need for a curb ramp.
3. Placement of truncated domes as a tactile and visual clue not only for blind pedestrians, but to aid drivers in positioning their cars in parking spaces so they do not hit the vertical bollards.
4. Installed custom automatic doors that can be operated that can be operated by hand or by a footrest of a power wheelchair, or someone carrying a package.
5. Green metal canopy over the front and rear doors ties into the lobby so that people with low vision have an additional directional cue to the center’s reception desk.
6. Specified thin wall mounted big screen TV’s will be installed so they would not present a hazard for blind and visually impaired visitors approaching the reception area.
7. Motion control lighting is not only more convenient for people with certain mobility impairments, it will result in reduced energy costs.
8. Provided a floor mounted urinal in the men’s public restroom that will aid wheelchair users with personal hygiene. This also assists children use the urinal.
9. Provided 5 different accessible toilets so disabled users who may prefer to transfer from one side of the wheelchair or the other will have the choice of which toilet to use.
10. Quiet room for people who may be experiencing migraine headaches, stress, and similar conditions. This room is equipped with sound deadening insulation and an accessible daybed. The room also offers a large single user restroom. Individuals who benefit from personal assistance have greater flexibility and privacy. The room is also a private place for mothers to breastfeed or use a breast pump.
11. Universally designed teaching kitchen that has countertops for a wide range of users. Installed the dining counter with special cane detectable rails to minimize the likelihood that blind users would run into the exposed corners of the counters. These railings are 4” below the bar countertop and back 4” from the counter edge to be cane detectable.
12. Planter in the patio to increase recreational opportunities for individuals with an interest in gardening. Height of the planter is within convenient reach range of people who use wheelchairs or sit on a stool while tending the garden. Users may sit on the brick ledge surrounding the raised planters
13. Adjustable height workstations to accommodate people of different sizes and people who use various mobility devices. Open office furniture allows staff that uses sign language to communicate can do so across the room.
14. Installed more accessible doors to have the same or greater options to get out of the building in case of an emergency.
15. Passive day lighting around the office area so people on the interior can see the outdoors from the central administrative office, technology lab, kitchen, board room, and conference room.
16. Windows in office, kitchen, technology lab, board room, and conference room allow for easier communication and collaboration, regardless of disability.
17. Site selection—selected a site that will allow for a one story facility, not requiring ramps, steps, or platform lift, making easier access for all. Building is located on bus route.
18. HVAC—zoned in order to accommodate the climate needs of a wide variety of staff and visitors.
19. Use of stained concrete is amenable to wheelchair users. Used low-pile, level-looped carpeting easier for wheelchair users to move on than cut-pile carpet.
20. Minimized level changes between floor finishes and have gently sloped transitions where there is change in floor finishes.
21. Installed pantry units to insure the greatest amount of storage and ease of access for users of all heights.
22. Configured the building with the reception area and lobby positions between the accessible passenger loading zones in the east and the accessible parking to the west. This offers a greater opportunity to serve visitors regardless of method they take to arrive at the center, and provides a greater sense of security because both entrances can be seen at the same time.
23. Public sidewalk is flush with driveways serving the front entrance. No additional curb ramps would be required for pedestrians. To eliminate the 4 curb ramps that would have been required where the public sidewalk along 15th street crosses the approach driveways at the front entrance, we poured a flush transition between the concrete sidewalks and asphalt driveways, while retaining safe separation of pedestrian routes of vehicles through the use of strategically place bollards.
24. Light switches in the multi-purpose room are positioned to allow for greater than normal flexibility in lighting controls.
25. Table in board room is round and will accommodate a variety of wheelchair users and will normalize the typical hierarchy associated with corporate conference tables, and will provide for more efficient communication among meeting participants, including individuals with hearing impairments who may relying upon assistive technology and interpreters.
26. Reception area and circulation space (corridor) between board room and multi-purpose room are wide enough to display the history of disability rights. Allows for more convenient circulation for people with all types of abilities.
For Immediate Release:
June 28, 2012
Kelly Buckland , Executive Director National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) in Washington DC : 202-207-0334
Dan Kessler , NCIL Board President and Executive Director of Disability Rights and Resources in Birmingham , AL : 205-251-2223
Lou Ann Kibbee , NCIL Vice President and IL Program Manager of SKIL Resource Center in Hays, KS : 785-623-8069
Susan Dooha , Executive Director of the Center for the Independence of the Disabled, New York in NYC, NY : 646-442-4163
National Council on Independent Living Hails Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act Decision
Washington, DC – The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) – a membership organization that advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities through consumer-driven advocacy – hails the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as a validation of the Act’s opportunities for people with disabilities. Since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, millions of people with disabilities have benefited by being able to access coverage that could have previously been denied, expand coverage that was previously limited, and pursue more options to receive services in their own homes rather than nursing homes and institutions.
“In short, for people with disabilities, the Court’s decision is historic,” said Kelly Buckland , NCIL’s Executive Director. “This decision means that people with disabilities will have new community living options to live in their own homes and will be able to access essential health care coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions.”
NCIL has focused on ACA opportunities that move the country closer to a more integrated society where all people are afforded the opportunity to lead an independent life. These provisions include the Community First Choice Option, the Balancing Incentives Program, and Money Follows the Person, all of which further opportunities for people with disabilities to live integrated in communities across America.
“We are thrilled that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act,” said Dan Kessler , NCIL’s Board President and Executive Director of Disability Rights and Resources in Birmingham , AL. “Because of the ACA, no longer will states have excuses to rely on nursing facilities and other institutions that warehouse people who do not need or want to live there. This is one of the great civil rights fights of our time: to ultimately see all people with disabilities live integrated in the community, not locked away in segregated settings.”
What the Law Does for People with Disabilities: Because of the ACA, more than 17 million children with pre-existing conditions will no longer be at risk of being denied coverage. In 2014, that protection will extend to anyone of any age with a pre-existing condition. The law protects people with disabilities from dollar limits on health benefits, ensuring that people with disabilities will continue to receive the coverage they need. The law improves physical access to medical equipment and services, ensuring that inaccessibility won’t get in the way of an individual’s health care needs.
“This feels like moving a mountain,” said Andy Curry, NCIL Healthcare Subcommittee Chair and Executive Director of the Tri-County Independent Living Center in Ogden , UT. “We believe that people with disabilities have the same constitutional protections as any other person to enjoy the right to a fully integrated life and the ACA has been a major boost to advancing this right.”
In addition, the law furthers the promise of the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision, which gives people with disabilities the right to receive long term services and supports in the most integrated setting in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The law extends and enhances the Federal Money Follows the Person program, which in the past five years has helped 20,000 people move out of institutions and into less costly, more independent, community-based settings. The law also creates the Community First Choice Option, which offers the incentive of a six percent increase in Federal Medicaid matching rate for states that provide community services as an alternative to institutional services for people with disabilities enrolled in Medicaid.
The decision does eliminate the federal government’s authority to penalize states for choosing not to expand Medicaid, making the Medicaid expansion – like the provisions eliminating the institutional bias – optional. This could have serious consequences for people in states that choose not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. “We now have the tools to provide health care and eliminate the institutional bias, but it’s up to states to make that happen. In a time when states face serious fiscal concerns, they may be reluctant to initiate or continue this expansion, so state-level advocacy is now more important than ever,” said Susan Dooha , Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY. NCIL calls upon disability, aging, religious, labor and civil rights groups to work together to advocate that states take advantage of these new opportunities and develop state-level My Medicaid Matters campaigns because MY MEDICAID MATTERS.
As a membership organization, the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) advances independent living and the rights of people with disabilities through consumer-driven advocacy. NCIL envisions a world in which people with disabilities are valued equally and participate fully. For more information visit: http://www.NCIL.org
Disability Rights and Resources has been awarded a $10,000 challenge grant from the Alabama Power Foundation. Funds raised go toward our new building. If you would lIke to contribute, you can write a check to Disability Rights and Resources, and mail to Dan Kessler, 1418 6th Ave N., Birmingham, AL. 35203. You can also donate by going to our website at http://www.drradvocates.org, and clicking on the DONATE button. All gifts are tax deductible. Gifts of all sizes are welcome.
Join the Conversation on Inclusive and Accessible Health Care for Persons with Disabilities
CDC Celebrates International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Please join the Division of Human Development and Disability (DHDD) at the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) in commemorating International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3, 2012. The focus of the day is removing barriers to health care access and public health programs often experienced by people with disabilities. In recognition of this day, the DHDD is planning the following activities:
Live Twitter Town Hall
Follow the dialogue and engage in a national forum, “Removing Barriers: Creating an Inclusive and Accessible Health Environment for People with Disabilities”. This special Twitter Town Hall will focus on how public health leaders can work together to reduce barriers to healthy lives facing people with disabilities by promoting an inclusive and accessible health environment for all.
Date: Monday, December 3, 2012
Time: 3:00-4:00 PM EST
Join the Town Hall by following hashtag: #IDPDchat
Follow updates from NCBDDD Director Dr. Coleen Boyle at: http://twitter.com/DrBoyleCDC
What you can do: Help us remove barriers and increase access to health care services and public health programs for people with disabilities! Please forward this email to your colleagues and networks and ask them to participate!
Special Web Feature Article
Discover how access to quality and timely health care has the potential to reduce health disparities in people with disabilities. Learn key health care tips and gain better insight into the lives of people with disabilities.
Release Date: Monday, December 3, 2012
Read more : www.cdc.gov/features
New Flickr.com Photo Album
Take a deeper look into the lives of people with disabilities as they overcome barriers to live, work, play and go to school like any person without a disability. This album highlights their full and active lives with disability, telling their stories in pictures.
Release Date: Monday, December 3, 2012
View the album: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdcsocialmedia/
For more information, please contact Terica Scott at 404-498-0005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sen. Linda Coleman from Birmingham visited Disability Rights and Resources yesterday. Sen. Coleman has been a staunch supporter of Money Follows the Person, an initiative that allows people with disabilities to live in the community with supports such as personal assistance. Sen. Coleman heads the City of Birmingham ADA office.
Disability Rights and Resources encourages you to get to know your legislators and local elected officials, not just when you need their support–that is important–but at other times as well.