Connecticut: Still Unready for Independent Living

Joseph A. Luciano Sr., Disability Rights Action Group of CT

ADA compliance in my community (Seymour) and most of Connecticut’s other 168 hasn’t changed much since the diatribe I wrote in 2014.

In my hometown, 26 years, or 9,783 days of opportunities on the road to accessibility—and, therefore, achieving status as a Livable Community—have been wasted. 9,783 days! Most merchants, their employees and property owners still do not know about the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Or they don’t care—or have little incentive to care. Even today, community leaders have no incentive to provide educational town meetings, one-on-one counseling, or materials such as guides, or instructional videos. Incidentally, educational materials are free at ADA.gov.

Educating businesses about access should be community leaders’ top priority. Members of boards and committees themselves should be learning regulations on access and be instructing merchants. Or delegate someone with expert ADA knowledge to lead the way. Those who don’t know or who don’t care should just get out of the way. Or get pushed out of the way.

The Connecticut Main Street Center organization should end giving awards for “pretty” downtowns; it should instead give awards for ADA compliance or accessibility! Businesses that make themselves accessible open the market to consumers of all abilities and increase local economic development.
The program “Money Follows the Person” has had Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s strong support to move thousands of eligible persons out of nursing homes into independent living. This initiative, targeted for completion by 2016, is already saving government hundreds of millions a year. But there’s a catch: Independent living, or Aging in Place, requires communities to be ready as “livable” communities. (Communities become livable when their leadership implements ADA standards.)

My community’s leadership recently (and inexplicably) approved more senior/handicapped housing despite obvious community un-readiness for independent living. Result: All that seniors and persons with disabilities now living here can do is use their canes, walkers, wheelchairs, and scooters to merely “stroll” around, looking into inaccessible shops.

Go figure.

To contact Disability Rights Action Group of Connecticut: DRAGconnecticut@yahoo.com, (203) 463-8323.