July 26 is an important date in the world of those with disabilities.
It was on July 26, 1990, that the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, and The Independence Center celebrated that date this year with its annual luncheon, themed "ADA: Celebrating Progress in the Pikes Peak Region."
The focus was on the nonprofit's services and the strides made for people with disabilities. IC CEO Patricia Yeager thanked Mayor John Suthers for the many disability access projects being completed throughout the city, made possible by the taxpayer-approved Ballot Issue 2C, which is adding curb cuts, new and retrofitted sidewalks, pedestrian ramps and other ADA-compliant projects. Such work wasn't available in the past, Yeager said. "Optimal access to everything in the community makes a full life," Suthers responded. Also thanked for its ADA work was the El Paso County Public Works Department.
Independence Center departments shared personal stories of those using their services and introduced guests, including Massah Feika, who was eating lunch with grandson Charles. IC staff had helped Massah, a refugee from Africa who was working two jobs, find a program enabling her to become a full-time caregiver for Charles, who is confined to a wheelchair.
Awards were presented to people who helped increase ADA compliance in our area. Ben Bills, of El Paso and Teller counties 911, was honored for leading the way with texting 911, crucial for people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or speech-impaired, his award said.
Lisa Austin accepted an award for the ADA-compliant programs of the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region, and Beth Schaffner for PEAK Parent Center programs for people with disabilities. Lori Jarvis-Steinwert was honored for NAMI programs "empowering people with mental illness."
The ADA luncheon was sponsored by Comcast, Rocky Mountain Health Care Services, Colorado Relay 711, 1st Bank of Colorado, Hoff & Leigh, Kaiser Permanente, Cascade Investment Group Inc., Central Bancorp and Denver Management Advisors Inc.
More photos: gazette.com/life/around-town