The City recognizes not all barriers to the City's programs, services and activities are physical in nature. Other administrative barriers exist that must be overcome to provide complete government services to those who are disabled. The City conducted a self-survey of all City Departments to identify any programmatic barriers that may impact accessibility of City programs, services or activities. Those items identified are included in other established listing for correction.
The City of Columbia conducted a detailed survey to evaluate each department in the City with regard to ADA compliance. The purpose of this exercise was to identify areas where the City falls short in accommodating people with disabilities.
The majority of City departments interact with the public outside the confines of a public facility. For example, the Police, Fire and Public Works Departments generally interact with the public in the field. As a result, the employees in many cases are forced to adapt to situations that arise in the field. For example, in responding to a call or incident, the physical or mental health of the person needing assistance is not necessarily provided through dispatch. As a result, those responding may need to modify the approach for resolving the issue.
The City departments that have the most routine contact with the public at a City facility are Development Services, the City Recorder's Office, Personnel, and Parks and Recreation.
The Development Services Department handles all permitting and inspections in the City and thus has a significant amount of public traffic. The City Recorder's Office handles billing, business licensing, permitting and taxes, which also results in high volumes of people accessing a City facility on a daily basis. It is estimated that a very small percentage of the public that is dealt with on a regular basis has no obvious disabilities. However, each of these departments is committed to providing quality service to all residents in the City and is taking the necessary steps to confirm that they provide their service in a manner that is accessible to all residents.
The Parks and Recreation Department has the most regular contact with residents in the City. This department provides numerous programs for all ages. This department is similar to other city departments in that there is no formal policy in place for accommodating participants with disabilities. However, the department strives to make programs available for anyone to participate. Generally, each case is handled independently and the appropriate accommodations have been made.
Based on the results of the self-surveys, the City will identify future steps and activities that the City can explore to ensure that people with disabilities have access to City services and programs. The City's future plan must address the following elements:
Effective communication is essential to providing accessible services in that whatever is written or spoken must be as clear and understandable to people with disabilities as it is for people who do not have disabilities. The City used many forms of communications with residents including the website, communications relating to City administration and open public meetings, and other communications regarding the City's programs, services and activities. In order to ensure that all forms of communication are accessible, the City is taking specific actions to improve communications, including the following:
- ADA Grievance Policy and Procedures. The City has developed a formal Grievance Policy and Procedure for ADA compliance. This document will be made available on the City's website and by contacting Personnel.
- Reasonable Modification Policy. The City has will work with individuals to determine an accommodation that meets the needs of the citizen/employee and the City without creating a hardship.
- Public Information. All forms of public communication about City programs and activities must address ADA compliance issues specific to the program or activity. In order to ensure that public communication has the appropriate verbiage/statement regarding ADA compliance, they must be approved by the ADA coordinator.
- Agenda text. The City posts the agenda to the website so that disabled persons can enhance the size of the print, and in the Council Chambers, all agenda items are displayed on large TV screens in a PowerPoint presentation so citizens can more easily read the items.
- Accommodations for participation in Public Meetings. The City will research the feasibility of incorporating equipment, available upon request, specially designed to assist hearing impaired persons to fully participate in City Council Meetings. The City will explore the feasibility of acquiring other aids or services.
- Accessibility of Public Meetings. The City has, as discussed above, already taken substantial efforts toward ensuring public meetings are held in ADA-accessible facilities. The City conducts all public meetings in ADA accessible facilities, and to the extent feasible will make specific accommodations, where necessary, to ensure that meetings among residents and City staff can be held within ADA accessible facilities.
- Accessibility of Phone Communication. All City departments are equipped with TTD phone line (s).
- Interpreter Services -The City will hire an interpreter when advance notice is given and all departments have access to the AVAZA language line.
- ADA Compliance in Legal Documents. The City includes appropriate ADA compliance language in all legal documents including, but not limited to: contracts, request for proposals, requests for qualifications, bid requests, job advertisements, and public notices.
ADA Compliance for Hiring Procedures. The ADA Compliance officer will review the application, interview and hiring procedures within each department of the City to ensure compliance with ADA.