“An Open and Accessible Community for All:” James Sheppard’s Platform on Disability Issues

In celebration of the 27th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rochester community is recognizing the contributions and involvement of people with disabilities this week. While there have been improvements in access to programs and services for people with disabilities, we still have a long way to go in making sure our residents with disabilities have equal opportunities for good jobs, safe neighborhoods and healthy housing. As Mayor, James Sheppard will focus on the following issues:

Enacting a Visitability Ordinance. 

All new housing built in the City of Rochester should be visitable. James Sheppard will work with City Council to pass an ordinance that will require a no-step entrance, wider doorways, and grab bars in all new housing projects. This will increase housing options for people with disabilities and enable older adults to stay in their homes longer.

Increasing Options for Accessible Transportation.

Ridesharing, vanpool services and expanded transportation for City residents must not exclude people with disabilities. Any new or expanded transportation services must be required to have a robust component for riders with disabilities. The City has several representatives on the RTS Board of Directors, and we will make clear to them that accessible transportation is at the top of our priority list.

A Seat at the Table for Project Review.

People with disabilities have a right to expect that in this day and age, new construction and rehabilitation projects will be as accessible as possible. The Sheppard administration will work with the Center for Disability Rights and other disabilities organizations to identify a liaison who will be notified of major projects, participate in project review, and work with project partners to improve accessibility for residents, visitors and employees. It’s not enough just to meet ADA requirements, let’s use innovative and best practices to make sure everyone in our community is welcome.

Access Hotline.

Trouble finding an accessible entrance to a City restaurant or business? Attending a public event with no interpreter? Denied seating at an event? We want to help. We will have a dedicated number to call so City staff can investigate accessibility issues and develop solutions.

Strengthening the City-County Council for People with Disabilities.

It is important to me to hear from all sectors of our community as we get Rochester working again. I welcome meaningful input from all of the people City government serves, and the City-County Council will help me focus on what’s important to residents with disabilities. Good, bad or otherwise, we want to know how we’re doing and how we can serve you better.

Rochester has a long and proud history as a leader in civil rights; let’s make sure this includes disability rights as well!