CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - CHAMPAIGN -- City leaders are taking steps to make the city more handicap-friendly. Tuesday night, the city council will learn more about a new ADA transition plan to bring its public spaces up-to-code.
They've been a long time coming. You see the signs. You go through the doors. But one crack in the sidewalk is a crack in the code.
"It can be a really large obstacle for someone that is required to use a wheelchair."
Nichole Millage, an environmental services specialist with Champaign Public Works, knows first-hand.
"Speaking personally, as a person with a physical disability, there was a short time when I was in a wheelchair and I saw the difficulties of getting around sometimes."
That's why the city is working to smooth out those cracks and fix anything else making public sidewalks, buildings and parking lots hard to access for people with disabilities.
"You know, it's been 20-years since we've upgraded our ADA compliance, so it's time."
The time really came about three years ago when city departments first began the self-assessment of their spaces. They've come up with a lengthy list of improvements to be made.
"That just shows you the amount of time and effort that we've put into it."
Building and parking lot fixes should get done within three years and cost about $90,000. They're still assessing sidewalks. Those will likely take a few years and a few million dollars to get done.
But, Millage says, the long road ahead ends in a more welcoming city.
"Our people with disabilities are really going to notice the improvements as they try to get around town."
They're also putting together a Disability Resource Manual for employees to make sure all city programs and meetings are accessible as well. A completed ADA transition plan will be presented in June.