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Boynton Beach first responders learning sign language and how to work with those with autism

Keith Nolan
Posted at 12:19 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-28 12:19:30-04

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. — Sunday marked 30 years since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA. It’s civil rights legislation that aims to increase access and opportunities for people with disabilities across communities and through employment.

The city of Boynton Beach, Florida has made it a goal to become more accessible and inclusive in recent years. Five years ago, the city’s ADA coordinator started identifying specific areas for potential improvement.

“It’s important that every individual feels welcome. If there’s things that need to be thought of ahead of time that we’ve done that just to make them more comfortable and to make them feel a part of our community,” explained Debbie Majors, ADA Coordinator for the City of Boynton Beach.

A key to the process is asking people what they want. Majors says the city has an inclusion support team of people who have disabilities who provide insight and guidance.

“Making sure that we’ve, no matter what programs we’re offering or what facility is out there that we’ve really considered those needs,” she said.

The city’s police and fire departments have been trained in working with people on the autism spectrum and American Sign Language classes have been offered.

The city’s inclusive park has an adult-size changing table in addition to special accommodations with play equipment.

“We have a beach mat that is at Ocean Front Park, that takes you beyond the ramp. The ramp only gets you so far, so independently you can get out there. And enjoy stick your toes in the sand and enjoy sitting alongside your friends at the beach,” explained Majors.

Advocates say, while progress has been made across the country in 30 years, more work needs to be done.

Majors says one of the next steps for the city is an Inclusion Works program, which directly works with businesses to provide support and guidance in the goal of becoming more ADA compliant.