Disability awareness meeting slated

Posted: Monday, March 02, 2009

Between the all of the unpaved roadways and six months of winter that leaves a majority of sidewalks blanketed under a pile of snow, it's well-known that Alaska can be a difficult place to maneuver. For those with disabilities, it can be next to impossible.

In order to bring more awareness to the Kenai Peninsula about accessibility issues for residents with disabilities, local groups are gathering Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. to host a community access forum at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai.

"Our main goal is to network with the community about how to make our community modern and accessible for people with disabilities," said Susan Novak, disability program navigator for the Kenai Peninsula.

Several local groups, including both chambers of commerce, the Peninsula Job Center and the borough mayor, will be speaking about various aspects of accessibility. Time will be allotted before and after the presentations for those in attendance to network with others about this issue.

"It's a sharing of information," Novak said.

"Accessibility standards are evolving and changing," said Jason Burke, Americans with Disabilities coordinator for the state of Alaska. He said the forum will be an opportunity for people in the community to share the types of resources being used to help individuals with disabilities.

Novak said some ADA laws have changed to become more inclusive.

The forum also will discuss those changes and allow time for any questions.

The forum is free and open to anyone who wants to attend.

"Alaska is a tough place to get around," Novak said. There are far more people in the community with accessibility issues than what is realized. The forum will bring that to the forefront and help to raise awareness about accessibility issues, she said.

For more information, call Novak at 283-2914.

Mike Nesper can be reached at mike.nesper@peninsulaclarion.com.

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