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Hendersonville to Fund Study to Improve ADA Compliance

July 6, 2018
Source: WSMV - Hendersonville, TN

[Note: This story includes a video with incomplete captions (2:02 minutes). Paul Choquette is Programs Director at Empower Tennessee, a Center for Independent Living in Nashville that serves people with disabilities.]

A Hendersonville [Tennessee] resident spoke up about changes needed to support people with disabilities, and now the city is listening.

Town leaders originally cut funding for a compliance study, but now it’s back in the budget. Hendersonville resident Paul Choquette went to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to talk about the importance of the study.

In a wheelchair since he was 4 years old, Choquette’s independence around the city he lives in matters.

“Getting in and out of buildings is big,” said Choquette.

He wants to make sure Hendersonville city leaders move forward with a compliance study for the Americans with Disabilities Act. The $250,000 study would look how to improve crosswalks and more.

“The environment, the roads, the sidewalks are so hostile that people don’t want to go out because they can’t get around,” said Choquette.

As an advocate for disability access through Empower Tennessee, he found city services could improve.

“People who are blind need to be able to access things, and now we do things on online so websites can be very inaccessible to someone who’s blind,” said Choquette. “Having the ability to have sign language interpreters for folks when they just go to conduct business.”

Ward Two Alderman Scott Sprouse added an amendment to the city’s budget last week to make sure funding for the study wasn’t left out.

“It’s unfathomable if we didn’t do it because it’s a requirement of the federal government. We would be out state grants. We would be out federal grants,” said Sprouse. “There are things that I know I don’t know, and that’s why I think it’s important to bring in experts to help us figure out.”

While the changes would impact his life everyday, Choquette said it also affects others.

“The ramps, the automatic door openers are great for moms pushing strollers, so it really is about understanding that universal design and looking at the needs of everybody,” said Choquette.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen passed the budget, but they will bringing it back up for discussion. Sprouse said he expects funding for the study to stay.

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