Robeson County agrees to become ADA compliant - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Robeson County agrees to become ADA compliant

ROBESON COUNTY, NC (WMBF) - Robeson County has agreed to make the county a better place to live for people with disabilities.


"I think they need to be brought up to the standards of all the rest of us," said Charles Kemp, former mayor of Fairmont. "Go into a building, go into a restaurant, be able to vote, all those things.


Robeson County reached a settlement agreement with the Justice Department to make specific changes to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act as part of Project Civic Access, which involves getting cities and counties around the U.S. moving forward with accessibility.


"We've gotten behind in those things, but sometimes things take precedence over other things and what I believe that the county has been trying to do is deal with the unemployment issue and as a result, elevators and ramps have kind of taken a second seat," Kemp said.


The Justice Department said Robeson County will have to make physical changes to the outside of public buildings that are not yet wheelchair accessible and also alter anything inside that isn't accessible, such as bathrooms.


Parking lots will have to be modified to have the required ratio of spaces for people in wheelchairs and proper signage. Wendy Chavis, who is now in charge of ADA compliance for the county, said the signage will be the first phase for the transition.


Two of the county's more than 20 playgrounds will have to become wheelchair accessible, said Chavis, who is the director of Robeson County Parks and Recreation.


"If I have a daughter in a wheelchair, why can't she go play on our parks?" Chavis said. "That's why I think it's really important."


There are also several requirements to accommodate people who have difficulty hearing or seeing. The Robeson County Sheriff's Office will have to have a policy for when deputies come into contact with those who are hard of hearing.


The county's website will have to add certain features making it easier for all people to see and use.


"Actually I'm online right now looking on Madison County, New York," Chavis said while that county's accessible website was up on her computer. "I've been talking to their ADA coordinator. They're going through the same thing, the same process."


While there are changes to make, Chavis said the survey used for the settlement was done years ago, so the county has already made some headway on the list. 


There are new compliant buildings for emergency management, social services and water.


There are also options for people who have disabilities to still vote at polling places.


"We have curbside service where you don't have to go inside the polling sites," Chavis said. "Someone can pull up there and come out and vote you. Plus, we have a machine that's in there that if you're blind, you can go to the machine."


Chavis said the cost of the changes hasn't been calculated yet, but the county has three years to complete the list.


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