Dis­abil­ity ad­vo­cacy dis­play vis­its lo­cal li­brary

P.D. Brown holds re­cep­tion for De­part­ment of Dis­abil­i­ties tour

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CHARLIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com

P.D. Brown Me­mo­rial Li­brary hosted a re­cep­tion for the trav­el­ing dis­Abil­ity His­tory Tour on Tues­day in con­junc­tion with the Mary­land De­part­ment of Dis­abil­i­ties.

The tour cel­e­brates the 27th an­niver­sary of the Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act (ADA), with the pri­mary draw be­ing a five-panel dis­play ti­tled “Ad­vo­cacy: A His­tory of Peo­ple Speak­ing Up for Them­selves,” on loan from the Mu­seum of dis­Abil­ity His­tory. The col­lec­tion tracks the pro­gres­sion of the ad­vo­cacy move­ment from early ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­i­ties to or­ga­ni­za­tions ded­i­cated to the cause. A sixth panel de­signed by a lo­cal group de­pict­ing dis­abil­ity his­tory in Mary­land will be added at the con­clu­sion of the tour. Charles County is the fifth stop on the six-city trip, and the dis­play will be avail­able for view­ing un­til Au­gust 19.

A video of for­mer

pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush sign­ing the ADA greeted the au­di­ence of two dozen peo­ple at the re­cep­tion, fol­lowed by a di­a­logue from de­part­ment of­fi­cials and li­brary staff about the sig­nif­i­cance of the act.

“It’s re­ally the Civil Rights Act for those with dis­abil­i­ties,” said Car­rie McGraw, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tion and out­reach for the Mary­land De­part­ment of Dis­abil­i­ties. “It was re­ally the first time the rights of those with dis­abil­i­ties were ad­dressed on a fed­eral level.”

The oc­ca­sion hit close to home for Charles County Pub­lic Li­brary Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Janet Salazar, who has mul­ti­ple rel­a­tives that uti­lize ADA ser­vices. She drew par­al­lels be­tween the leg­is­la­tion and the li­brary while ad­dress­ing the crowd.

“The Amer­i­cans with Dis­abil­i­ties Act has some things in com­mon with the pub­lic li­brary,” Salazar said. “The ADA pro­vides for equal op­por­tu­nity for per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties in em­ploy­ment, state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment ser­vices, pub­lic ac­com­mo­da­tions, com­mer­cial fa­cil­i­ties and trans­porta­tion. In the pub­lic li­brary, we af­firm the right of all li­brary users to open ac­cess of in­for­ma­tion.”

The event closed with an ap­pear­ance by Deputy Sec­re­tary of Dis­abil­i­ties Wil­liam Frank, who spoke about the im­por­tance of cel­e­brat­ing the act and spread­ing its prin­ci­ples through­out the com­mu­nity.

“We are com­mit­ted to a Mary­land in which all cit­i­zens are able to ac­cess the same re­sources and ser­vices,” said Frank, be­fore pre­sent­ing a ci­ta­tion to Salazar and li­brary staff to ap­plaud them on their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the tour.

Charles County Com­mis­sioner Amanda Ste­wart (D) at­tended the event and said she plans to draw up a procla­ma­tion to bring at­ten­tion to the cel­e­bra­tion. As for the lo­cal gov­ern­ment’s role in dis­abil­ity aware­ness, Ste­wart ex­plained the ad­min­is­tra­tion is re­spon­si­ble for mak­ing sure fa­cil­i­ties in the county are in in com­pli­ance with ADA reg­u­la­tions.

“We just make sure that our build­ing codes are up to stan­dard to make sure peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties can ex­pe­ri­ence and go to any build­ing for any ser­vice,” Ste­wart said. “If a county res­i­dent has a prob­lem, we’re there to make sure our build­ings are up to code.”

The tour will close with a visit to the Kent County Pub­lic Li­brary in Ch­ester­town. P.D. Brown Me­mo­rial Li­brary is open Mon­day through Thurs­day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fri­day from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Satur­day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for those in­ter­est­ing in check­ing out the dis­play.

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