As 2023 ends, The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) is looking back at all the moments this past year that brought our mission into action for the disability community. We will continue to work with departments, the disability community, and our partners to create an equitable and accessible experience for all. Thanks to the voters of Philadelphia as we welcome the new year and new Administration with Mayor-Elect Parker, we will become the Office for People with Disabilities! This means the office is now a permanent part of our city’s charter, a historical change that ensures the work around accessibility and disability equity is protected going forward. We will mindfully transition our website, messaging, meetings, and office structure so that the disability community is able to seamlessly continue to be served by the office. 

2023 was all about breaking barriers, making disabled history, and leading with universal designed projects to lift our collective vision for a more equitable and accessible Philadelphia into action. 

“When we design and lead from a place of accessibility and universal design, all members of our community benefit and have more equitable access to public life here in Philadelphia.” -Amy Nieves, Executive Director, (Mayor’s) Office for People with Disabilities 

2023 saw the re-launch of our Philadelphia Disabilities Characteristics map that became one of the most accessible data maps globally in partnership with the U.S. Access Board and Esri. If making history in legislation and in the data science space wasn’t exciting enough, Philadelphia also became the first-ever certified U.S. city to be designated as Sensory Inclusive by KultureCity

With more than 16,000 city workforce members becoming certified sensory inclusive leaders across every single city department and city municipal location, the city is better positioned to increase our understanding of the disability experience and provides staff with the tools to better serve and equitably engage with all residents, visitors and one another. This was made possible with a $15,750 grant through the Innovation Fund

The office launched the ADA Unit project, thanks to a $300,000 grant from the Operations Transformation Fund that provided extensive assessments of accessibility at City Hall, over 50 libraries and 10 Parks and Recreations centers. 100’s of low-cost corrective actions were addressed through this project that made immediate impact around accessibility, including more than 600 fully accessible tactile and braille signs for City Hall. 

2023 also saw our Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities (MCPD) strengthen their efforts by creating their guiding principles and offering 4 public meetings, community conversations around home modifications, the Philadelphia Disability Characteristics Map, voting and civic engagement. In partnership with the Commission, the MOPD provided dozens of educational sessions on accessibility, ableism, and disability inclusion for departments and community members throughout the year and presented at over 8 conferences, including the world’s largest data mapping conference in San Diego, CA with Esri

Our office will continue to be dedicated to uplifting the voices of all members of the disability community and continuing to foster an inclusive city for all Philadelphians in 2024 and beyond. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay connected to our work in 2024.

Check out our extensive 2023 Year in Review Report for more on the work the MOPD accomplished in 2023 to ensure that Philadelphia is more inclusive and equitable for residents and visitors with disabilities. Here’s to 2024 and a future that is accessible and equitable!