PHILADELPHIA — The City of Philadelphia today launched “PHL Disability Access,” a public feedback process to gather input from Philadelphia residents on the City’s draft ADA Transition Plan. The draft plan, also released today, focuses on Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination based on disability for state and local government services. A public comment period for the ADA Transition Plan will run October 15 – November 15, 2020. The City is committed to providing accessible programs, services and facilities for people with disabilities.

To ensure access to all City services and programs, the City of Philadelphia first conducted a self-evaluation assessment in 2019. The self-evaluation, completed by Milligan & Company, LLC, was conducted to determine gaps in ADA compliance—including an administrative review of City programs and services, as well as preliminary observations regarding policies and procedures. A physical assessment of 537 City sites and facilities including City Hall, libraries, Parks & Recreation locations, and other administrative buildings was completed to identify physical barriers to access. The accessibility of a facility during the self-evaluation process was determined based on ADA design guidelines.

The ADA Transition Plan was developed to guide the removal of barriers to accessibility throughout the City. Access issues generally fall into one of three categories:

  • Physical/architectural barriers to access such as where a wheelchair ramp is needed or missing Braille signage.
  • Programmatic access such as when an individual is unable to participate in a program, service or activity due to a City policy or practice that does not provide an equally effective opportunity for people with disabilities.
  • Communication access such as when there is a need for auxiliary aids and services like a sign language interpreter, Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART), or materials in alternative formats in order to provide equal access to information and communication with programs, services or activities from the City government.

The draft plan includes potential corrective actions to remove physical barriers—like installing handrails and ramps, door adjustments, and compliant playground equipment. It also includes recommendations for updating the City‘s website and adjusting procedures if needed to provide more accessibility. The draft ADA Transition Plan is available online for review.

Recognizing that the City has limited funds and cannot immediately make all programs and facilities fully accessible, ADA corrective actions were prioritized and categorized as Priority 1-4 (with Priority 1 being the least accessible). In addition to ADA priority, facilities were prioritized for equity based upon location in low-income and minority neighborhoods, as well as by cost.

The self-evaluation assessment, which informed the ADA Transition Plan, focused primarily on departments under the direct control of the mayor. It did not include the School District of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Housing Authority, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, SEPTA, independently elected offices, or public rights of way—except where noted in the report. The following independently elected offices did participate in the project: Office of the Philadelphia City Commissioners, Philadelphia City Council, and the Register of Wills.

PHL Disability Access will allow for a 30-day public review and comment period for the self-evaluation and draft ADA Transition Plan. Feedback will be accepted from Thursday, October 15, 2020 to Sunday, November 15, 2020. Residents can review the draft plan online, then complete a PHL Disability Access feedback form or leave their comments via voice message by dialing 215-686-2160.

Following the public review and comment period, the City will hold two PHL Disability Access virtual public meetings on November 17 and 19. Details, including login information, for the virtual public meetings, will be posted to the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities website.