Ramp Up Idaho expands partner network

The Ramp Up Idaho project started as a conversation among community and economic development professionals last year who noted that barriers to access = barriers to commerce. Many rural communities lack a unified approach to accessibility; although many resources are available to fund improvements, few businesses or local governments know where to start.

Ramp Up Idaho aims to change this through outreach, building partnerships and connecting businesses, chambers and communities with available resources and accurate information. By getting various stakeholders to talk about planned downtown projects early enough to leverage investments and existing capacity to remove barriers in more cost effective ways.

“A simple conversation can lead to cost-saving partnerships and tools business owners never knew existed…not to mention expanding access for everyone.”

In just the past few weeks, more partners have expressed interest in joining the discussion. Many see this as a way to expand the discussion about access to new audiences with different perspectives. Whenever people start thinking about access to essential services, it’s easier to make the leap to a broader conversation about more inclusive communities in general.

For more information, visit www.rampupidaho.org or ‘like’ the project at www.facebook.com/RampUpIdaho

The role of housing in implementing Olmstead, and why it matters to everyone

The 1999 Olmstead decision clarified the court’s intent to afford persons with disabilities the opportunity to live independently in and as part of the larger community, which in turn means access to opportunities available to all persons.

To quote from the ruling, the goal is to seek “the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals with disabilities” or “a setting that enables individuals with disabilities to interact with non-disabled persons to the fullest extent possible.”

Housing is key to community integration, as where we live determines our access to a host of essential community services. HUD’s message on this is also clear:”Individuals with disabilities, like individuals without disabilities, should have choice and self determination in housing and in the health care and related support services they receive. For this reason, HUD is committed to offering individuals with disabilities housing options that enable them to make meaningful choices about housing, health care, and long-term services and supports so they can participate fully in community life.”

There are many efforts underway in Idaho to achieve the aims of Olmstead, and will take communication and coordination among all partners to create a diverse mix of housing choices throughout the state’s many regions. Housing alone doesn’t make a community accessible, but it’s a really good place to start.

Read more here: Olmstead and housing

NCIL Claims Capitol Restoration Noncompliant

The National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice, allegding that the recent Idaho Capitol resoration failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Click the link below to read the letter from NCIL to the DOJ

Idaho Capitol ADA complaint