(Juneau Empire File)

Letter: New City Hall will bring Juneau into compliance with ADA requirements

Accessibility. Inclusion. Empowerment. Collaboration. Integrity. These are the five core values at the foundation of Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL). Our mission is to inspire personal independence for seniors and people of any age who experience any disability — be it physical, cognitive, sensory or a mental health disability — who live, work and recreate in Southeast.

It is through this lens SAIL adds our voice to the new City Hall debate. Simply: 1) accessing CBJ services in five scattered sites poses an accessibility challenge for all, and even more so for seniors and people who experience disabilities, and 2) the five CBJ offices pose a spectrum of accessibility problems and/or ADA violations. As examples, the main CBJ office building is so old that even with the reasonable accommodations CBJ has made to date (intended to be short-term), many long-term solutions are technically infeasible and require major renovations to come close to the current bare minimum ADA standards. And the port director’s office, upstairs in the Seadrome Building, is totally inaccessible to anyone who cannot navigate stairs. Juneau can and absolutely should do better.

The access benefits of the new project for someone with a disability living in Juneau will include covered onsite accessible parking (huge…no searching for truly accessible parking spots, functional curb cuts, and navigating snowy sidewalks or sideways rain to get to the front door), one-stop shopping for CBJ services, and accessibility beyond barebones ADA requirements that will meet the needs of more people.

Joan O’Keefe

SAIL executive director