The City of Greer is making changes to assure they are in compliance with the American’s with Disabilities Act. This comes following a 7 On Your Side investigation where we followed a disabilities advocate after she was locked out of a meeting at Greer City Hall.
In February, Sandy Hanebrink parked in an accessible space at Greer City Hall and tried to open the door on the same level of the parking, to attend the meeting. The door was locked and Hanebrink was not able to wheel her wheelchair up the incline in the parking lot to the open door, by herself.
The law says municipalities and city governments must have an ADA Coordinator to handle complaints and be familiar with ADA codes. Hanebrink said no one official was available to speak with her at the time.
Months later Greer City Administrator Ed Driggers said he’s making sure the city is making changes and allowing equal access for people with disabilities.
“When it’s brought to your attention and you recognize you’ve got a shortcoming, you have to make a conscious decision that says yes, we missed the boat, we made some mistakes but here’s what we’re going to do to correct that,” he said.
Driggers said they’ve changed parking spaces in their lot, told staff about the laws and sent an ADA Coordinator to special training. Driggers also said any new buildings the city constructs will be in line with ADA regulations.
Greer City hosted an ADA training session Tuesday inviting county government representatives from across the Upstate. ABLE SC leaders taught the sessions and the city’s ADA Coordinator also spoke.
The training was put on in collaboration with greenvilleCAN and Ten at the Top. Leaders said they partner to train employees individually but this was the first organized and comprehensive training session they could recall.
Dean Hyble, a member representing both organizations said he’s getting positive feedback from government officials and he continues to train people who are willing to learn. Many tell him they want to avoid a lawsuit as well as make their municipalities equally comfortable and accessible to take care of their citizens.
“For some of our communities they think it’s a little of an embarrassment. They think, we didn’t know something we really should have so they’re trying to make it right in terms of being engaged,” he said Tuesday.
Leaders hope other county and city governments will be proactive and make sure their jurisdictions are in compliance.
The next session hosted by GreenvilleCan will be at Shriners Hospital on August 20 from 7-8:30. It will detail basic rights of people with disabilities and what’s protected under the American’s with Disabilities Act.