Providing Universal Access

in Oak Park




Task Force on Policy for Promoting Access


July 1, 1996





Executive Summary


Project History

In August, 1994, the President and the Board of Trustees of the Village of Oak park established the ATask Force on Policy for Promoting Access.@  The members of the task force were charged with advising the President and the Board regarding the use of the Village=s home rule authority to further the underlying purposes of the Village=s Diversity Statement, its Human Rights Ordinance, the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, in a manner which is harmonious with Village goals and objectives.  The members of the Task Force developed a great interest in furthering the broad concept of Auniversal access,@ in addition to addressing the specific charge by the Village President and the Board of Trustees.


The Fact Finding Process

The Task Force was divided into three committees, which focused on accessibility issues relating to business, not-for-profit organizations, and government. Each committee investigated the facts, reported findings, and suggested recommendations to the Task Force.  Citizen input was solicited and encouraged at focus group meetings.


Task Force members also interviewed employees from the Village of Oak Park, Schaumburg Township and Arlington Heights to gain perspectives on universal access issues and potential solutions and their effectiveness.


Summary of Recommendations

The members of the Task Force offer recommendations that are designed to promote universal access throughout the Village of Oak Park.  All of the recommendations are of equal and paramount importance.  However, the Task Force strongly recommends the appointment of an AAccess Advisor@ as an essential first step. The Task Force members do recognize that it may be impractical to implement all of the recommendation immediately, however, it is urged that the recommendations that can be done most readily be accomplished first, with attention given to the remaining recommendations in a timely fashion with the caveat that time is of the essence.


The recommendations include the following:

!       Creating the position of AAccess Advisor@ on the Village=s staff

!       Proactive leadership by the Village government on accessibility issues

!       Revision of the Diversity Statement

!       Staff commissions to reflect the disabled population within the Village

!       Provide incentive awards to encourage efforts in providing universal access

!       Require vendors to comply with laws that protect disabled people

!       Communicate and collaborate with other government bodies within Oak Park to implement and promote universal access

!       Ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to all programs and activities, services, buildings and facilities

!       Entities that seek licensing from the Village should be required to participate in a self-evaluation for accessibility


Other recommendations for further research include investigations into upgrading the Village=s infrastructure and housing stock with regard to accessibility issues.  Additionally, there should be an investigation into whether  accessibility into the Village Hall building by disabled persons is safe and dignified.



The Task Force has provided a variety of recommendations that are significant for the well-being and livability of the community as a whole.  The recommendations must be considered in total in order to have the greatest impact on life in Oak Park.



Providing Universal Access in Oak Park


Task Force on Policy for Promoting Access





The Village of Oak Park, through its citizens and elected representatives on the Oak Park Board of Trustees, has always strived to include its entire population as well as its visitors in its activities, business and society.  In 1994, in order to further the acceptance of and compliance with accessibility laws and practice, the President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Oak Park created a task force made up of citizens with special expertise in disability law, rights, and practice, other individuals representing the business and not-for-profit organizations and the Committee for the Disabled to study this issue and make recommendations to the Board for action.


Village Board=s Charge to the Task Force:

President and Board of Trustees Policy Statement

on Americans with Disabilities Act

as Adopted August 1, 1994:


In accordance with the Village of Oak Park Diversity Statement, Oak Park Human Rights Ordinance, the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Oak Park President and Board of Trustees affirms its commitment that all persons with physical and/or mental disabilities shall not be discriminated against.


In furtherance of this commitment, the President and Board of Trustees hereby establishes a task force to advise the President and Board on how the Village might use its home rule authority to further the purposes of these acts in a manner consistent with other Village goals and objectives.  Particular attention is called to the Village=s authority to educate and to license, and to provide grants for goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations.


The Task Force:

Nancy Waichler, Chairperson, League of Women Voters of Oak Park and River Forest Representative

Bruce Azuma, Member of Oak Park Community Relations Commission

Karen Herman DeMuro, Former Executive Director,

Oak Park and River Forest Chamber of Commerce

Robert Dugal, Past Chair, Oak Park Committee on the Disabled

Frank Heitzman, AIA, ASID, Architect, Past Chair, Oak Park Historic Preservation Commission

Felisa Johnson, M.S., J.D., Staff Liaison,

Community and Economic Development Department, Village of Oak Park

Robin A. Jones, Executive Director, Great Lakes Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center

University of Illinois at Chicago

Ronald Lilek, Oak Park Development Corporation Representative

George Pellegrini, Building Owners and Managers Association Board Member

Kim Quarles, Oak Park Visitors Bureau Board Member

Alvoyd AAl@ Whitaker, Member, Oak Park Community Relations Commission

Kathleen C. Yannias, Attorney

Elaine Sherman, Ex Officio, Committee Member, Chair, Oak Park Committee on the Disabled


Our Vision:


Oak Park shall be universally accessible to and useable by all community members, groups, citizens, and visitors.


Our Mission:


To ensure and affirm non-discriminatory access to government programs, goods and services, public accommodations and commercial facilities.





AUniversal Access@ is a term used by the Oak Park Task Force on Policy for Promoting Access to mean that both the buildings themselves and the services offered at those buildings are usable by people with or without disabilities.  This term encompasses two requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)[1] and most other federal, state, and local statutes:  meaningful access to the services and programs offered by public accommodations[2] and physical access to buildings.


To provide access to services and buildings may require a change in policies or procedures as noted by the ADA.  For example, a person who is blind may need materials in Braille or taped text or need to have materials read aloud.  A restaurant may need to instruct its wait staff that menus should be read to patrons on request.  A social service agency may need to read written instructions or fill out an application for a person who has a learning disability.  A salesperson may need to write notes to a person who is deaf.  A doctor may need to provide a sign-language interpreter for a patient who is deaf or purchase a TDD/TTY (text telephone device for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired).  All of these actions provide meaningful access to programs and services for people with disabilities.


Where required by any of the codes, physical access changes must be done in accordance with the applicable code which provides the best accessibility.  In Oak Park, the Code Administration Department enforces the Illinois  Environmental Barriers Act (EBA)1 and The Building Officials and Code Administrators National Building Code (BOCA).1  The Oak Park code administrators  are currently required by Illinois law to review both codes to determine which provides greater access.  In addition, building owners have the further  responsibility to comply with the access standards of the ADA and the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA),[3] although the Village is not legally required to enforce these laws.


Physical access to buildings and sites (e.g., widening doorways, installing ramps, and other physical modifications) is also required by the ADA, the EBA, and BOCA.  In general, all buildings must comply with one or all of these laws, but there are certain exemptions possible under each law.  For instance, the ADA does not regulate buildings which are owned by private clubs or religious organizations, but the EBA does.  The ADA does not have requirements for privately owned or federally financed housing but the FHAA and the EBA both have requirements for housing.  The ADA does not require an elevator in privately-owned buildings which are less than 3 stories in height or less than 3000 square feet per floor unless an upper floor contains the professional office of a health-care provider, but the EBA does require an elevator in all buildings with certain limited exceptions (e.g., an upper floor of 1000 square feet or less in area).  In both the ADA and the EBA there is a provision which excepts the requirement for an access feature in an existing building if providing that feature would necessitate moving a major structural load-bearing element.  Also in all codes, some latitude is given for strict compliance in historic buildings. 


In order to understand the impact of any proposed policy promoting Universal Access in the Village of Oak Park it is essential to understand the number of individuals who may be impacted by such a policy.  For the purposes of this document, we have identified three groups who are directly affected by these recommendations: 


1.  Residents of Oak Park who have disabilities.

2.  Visitors to Oak Park who have disabilities.

3.  Businesses operating within Oak Park.


The physical structures within the Village of Oak Park often present a barrier to creating access due to the era of construction.  Approximately 53 commercial buildings within the Village have some form of historical designation, and it is estimated that approximately 162 businesses are located in street level storefronts of historic buildings.  There are 2,257 total businesses and organizations in Oak Park.  The majority, 1,747, are Asmall  business@ ($1 million or less in gross revenues).  This number excludes not-for-profit organizations and governmental agencies as well as home businesses.  It is unknown as to how many of these businesses are Aaccessible@ to individuals with disabilities.


The 1990 Census data provides some insight into the sector of the population of Oak Park that has identified themselves as having a disability.  A total of 1,335 individuals aged 16 and over have a mobility limitation that makes it difficult to go outside the home alone, and 1,603 have a limitation in their ability to take care of their own personal needs, such as dressing, bathing, or getting around inside the home.  An additional 508 persons, aged 16 to 64, identified themselves as having a disability that prevented them from working.  Of those reporting the presence of a disability, 1,416 individuals were between the ages of 16 to 64, and 1,118 were over the age of 65.  Statistics regarding the number of individuals below the age of 16 are not available.  Please note that this data does not represent the total scope of prevalence of disability in Oak Park due to the fact that reporting is voluntary and many individuals with disabilities do not identify themselves as having a disability due to fears of discrimination.


Tourism is a major industry in Oak Park.  In 1994, it was determined that approximately 86,000 individuals are drawn to Oak Park annually to participate in Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio events.  Using the U. S. Bureau of Census projection that 1 in 5 persons in the general population has some form of disability, we estimate that approximately 17,000 individuals with some form of disability participate in these tourism activities alone.  These figures do not account for the number of individuals who patronize the shops, theaters, restaurants, medical facilities or professional offices located within the Village on a yearly basis.






Members of the task force brought a broad range of experiences and expertise to the discussion.  The task force divided itself into three major committees which were charged with investigating one particular aspect of the study in depth:


Business Issues Committee

Not-for-profit Organization Issues Committee

Government Issues Committee


Each committee made its own investigations of the facts of its particular issue, tried to find solutions where warranted, and reported their findings to the full Task Force for discussion and action. Citizen ideas and concerns were vigorously sought by the committees, and ultimately formed the basis of their recommendations.  Community input was solicited through four separate focus group meetings.  One was made up of representatives of Oak Park businesses, a second was made up of representatives of not-for-profit organizations, and third and fourth focus group meetings were made up of disabled citizens, their family members, and representatives of several village government bodies.[4]


In addition to committee assignments, individual task force members researched statistical information and interviewed employees of the Village of Oak Park. Other communities= responses to the need for access were also investigated, and their solutions were brought before the scrutiny of the task force in view of Oak Park=s characteristic circumstances.


Out of these deliberations has come a collection of straightforward recommendations to the Board (Part AI@ below) and recommendations for further study of certain special issues (Part AII@ below).  These proposals are listed herein below.  


It is this Task Force=s hope that all of these recommendations will be given a thorough evaluation by the Board, will be discussed in public forum, and ultimately, all of the recommendations addressed in Part I should be adopted as a part of our community=s principles, and that solutions should be developed to the issues presented in Part II.

Part I



This part includes specific suggestions agreed upon by the entire Task Force which it believes will be the most beneficial in communicating the law and ethics of universal access and implementing it in our community.   With the singular exception of the first suggestion below, there is no order of priority.  Similar to the process of providing access itself, the Task Force=s position is that they are all equally important.  Do all of them, but do those that can be done most readily first.



1.   Access Advisor


Overarching all of the following Task Force recommendations is the need for ongoing and continuous dissemination of correct information about access to the public.  We propose that an individual be placed on the Village Staff to serve a variety of functions relating to the Village=s mission of providing Universal Access.  Some of these duties will be as follows:



  The Access Advisor will create and periodically update a long range village-wide plan for access.


L  The Access Advisor will review plans for new construction and alterations submitted to the Village for building permits with regard to compliance with the Illinois Accessibility Code.


L  The Access Advisor will create a self-evaluation checklist for businesses, institutions and not-for-profit organizations.[5]


L  The Access Advisor will make accessibility reviews of privately-owned public accommodations upon request of the owner.


L  The Access Advisor will assist building owners and businesses in completing their accessibility check lists upon request of the owner.

L  The Access Advisor will facilitate education and training on a variety of disability issues.


L  The Access Advisor will review proposals and monitor Community Development Block Grant  (CDBG) funding recipients for compliance with the American with Disabilities Act Architectural Guidelines (ADAAG) or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS).[6]


L  The Access Advisor will be a liaison to other government bodies and to the general public.


L  The Access Advisor will administer accessibility awards programs.


L  The Access Advisor will research information on funding sources for ADA compliance and be a repository for such information for businesses and not-for-profit organizations.



Qualifications of the Access Advisor should include exceptional interpersonal skills, and knowledge of, or ability to learn the following:  knowledge of business, knowledge of building construction, understanding of Oak Park=s history and historic preservation concepts, knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act and Illinois Accessibility Code, and the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards, a general recognition  of a broad range of needs of disabled persons, and advocacy for the rights of disabled persons.[7]




2.        Village Responsibilities


1.          Leadership


1.         Village Leadership by Example:   The Village should take a leadership role in exemplifying provision of access to its programs, activities and services through all of its actions.  Such leadership by example should include providing Village employee, board member and commissioner training, which will encourage positive attitudes toward access.  The Village should also demonstrate leadership by issuing a policy statement asserting that all Village programs, activities, and services are offered in an accessible and non-discriminatory manner and that employment opportunities are available for persons with disabilities.


2.         Village Diversity Statement:   The Village should revise the first paragraph of the Village Board Statement AMaintaining Diversity in Oak Park@ to read as follows:


AThe people of Oak Park have chosen this community, not so much as a place to live, but as a way of life.  A key ingredient in the quality of this life is the diversity of these same people: a broad representation of various occupations, professions, lifestyles, abilities, age, and income levels, a stimulating mixture of racial, religious and ethnic groups.  Such diversity is Oak Park=s strength.@


3.         Village Commissions: The Village President should seek to appoint individuals with disabilities to village commissions and committees to fairly reflect the community=s disabled population.  All commissioner recruiting materials and information should include a statement that persons with disabilities are encouraged to participate in commissions, and that all meetings will be accessible to persons with disabilities.  Each village commission should assess, at least annually, the impact that its activities have on the disabled population, and seek the assistance of the Committee for the Disabled as appropriate.



4.          Awards: 


(1).    The Village should establish an annual awards program similar to the ACavalcade of Pride@ Awards which would recognize businesses and not-for-profit organizations which have an exemplary record of making efforts to provide universal access.


(2).    The Village should investigate the possibility of creating a AUniversal Access Achievement@ recognition program which would encourage businesses, institutions, or not-for-profit organizations to provide universal access.[8]


5.        Village Purchasing: 


(1).      The Village should include the following affirmation statement on the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) form that the Village requires all vendors to submit prior to being commissioned:


AWe affirm that we do not discriminate on the basis of disability in our employment practices and that we comply with all local, state, and federal employment laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities.@


(2).    The Village should seek to include companies who are owned or operated by individuals with disabilities, have a good record in hiring minorities and women, and/or in providing accessibility to their employees and patrons, when advertising for bids or notifying firms of a request for proposal. [9]


(3).    The Village should give preference to companies that are owned or operated by individuals with disabilities, have a good record in hiring minorities and women, and/or in providing accessibility to their employees and patrons, when purchasing from vendors where comparable low bids have been submitted, and in contracting for professional services where quality of service is comparable.


6.         Intergovernment Collaboration: The Village should facilitate communication and collaboration among all governmental bodies through the Council of Governments within the boundaries of Oak Park, such as the two school districts, the park district, the Township, and the library, to promote universal access in their facilities and services consonate with the Village=s vision.



2.          Village Programs and Services:


1.         Policies and Procedures:  The Village should make reasonable modifications of policies and procedures and provision of auxiliary aids and services (such as sign language interpreters) to assure equal access for people with disabilities to programs, activities and services.


2.         Information: The Village should provide consistent information across Village departments, including what constitutes reasonable ADA compliance.  User-friendly information and assistance should be thorough, consistent, rational, efficient, and accurate.


3.          Education: The Village should offer educational sessions on accessibility law and standards at various times convenient to individuals and businesses.  These sessions should be presented by a knowledgeable specialist who is not connected with Village government.  The sessions should help small businesses and not-for-profit organizations understand that it is good business to provide universal access to their goods and services. Assistance should be provided to session attendees to develop their own accessibility plan and provide solutions to access problems that meet their own specific needs.  Information should also be disseminated at these sessions on alternative means of making goods and services accessible where physical barrier removal is not feasible.  Prior to the meeting, attendees should be invited to submit a list of their specific problems to be addressed at the session.  The goal of these education sessions is to promote voluntary compliance with accessibility laws, both with regard to physical barrier removal, as well as programmatic accessibility (for example, altering the business or organization=s programs or procedures to meet the needs of their disabled customers or clients).  Because this effort is targeted at voluntary compliance, the Village should review progress toward compliance at some future date, such as within three years from the time the educational program is begun.


4.          Initial Licenses, Loans & Grants:  It is recommended that the Village mandate attendance at one educational session for all applicants for initial business licenses, or for individuals or groups who receive Village‑administered loans or grants.


5.          Technology Fair: At least once a year, the Village, with the assistance of interested parties, should host a technology fair which would allow business owners (including those with real estate interests) to have hands-on experience with access technology.  The fair should highlight low cost and low-technology access solutions (for example, lever door handles that can be placed over existing hardware, offset hinges, computer software programs with large type).



3.         Buildings and Facilities: 


1.         Village-owned or operated buildings: [10] The buildings which are owned or leased by the Village of Oak Park should be a visible example to the public of universal access.  In that regard, the Village has prepared an accessibility plan to make buildings comply with the requirements of the ADA. The accessibility plan should be recognized as a living document to which changes can and will be made in response to changing needs and technological evolution.  The Village should hold a public forum on an annual basis to make the general public aware of the existence of the plan, and to provide for suggestions from the public which may lead to improvements to the plan.


2.         Maintenance and Enforcement.  Because clear and unobstructed public sidewalks play such an important role in disabled persons= movement throughout the Village, it is recommended that the Village adopt a special sense of responsibility for maintenance of this part of the Village infrastructure.  Maintenance includes repair of damage to public sidewalks and crosswalks, continuing efforts to create properly designed curb cuts at intersections, dependable snow removal which will not cause snow to accumulate at curb cuts, and vigorous enforcement of already-existing traffic laws which make it illegal for parked cars to block curb cuts and intersections.


3.          Building Permits: 


(1).      Whenever a building permit is applied for on either new construction or renovation, the Code Administration Department and/or the party to whom the review  responsibility is delegated by the Village should review the proposed plans submitted for the permit for compliance with all applicable local ordinances and state codes.


(2).      The Village of Oak Park should provide clear and concise written information to applicants for building permits, and to persons who inquire about village codes for a prospective project, regarding their responsibility to comply with the ADA and the FHAA, including the requirement for the Apath of travel provisions@ in existing buildings under the ADA.


4.         Housing:  In any request for Village loans or grants for housing construction and in all Village programs relating to housing (e.g., The Oak Park Residence Corporation, The Oak Park Housing Center, and distribution of Section 8 funds), The Village should review such request or program with the goal of increasing accessible housing in the most integrated setting possible.




3.          Business and Not-for-profit Organization Responsibilities


1.          Applicants for either new business licenses and/or annual renewal of existing licenses should be required to complete or update a simple self-evaluation accessibility checklist.[11]


2.          New applicants for Class C1, C2, C3, and C4 liquor licenses (packaged liquors) should be required to have their building complete and pass a village inspection for accessibility.  The inspection would be based on the accessibility checklist and measurable standards.


3.          Businesses and not-for-profit organizations should provide education and training for employees and promote a positive attitude on the part of employees toward persons with disabilities.




Part II

Further Recommendations:


The following issues were discussed by the task force, with no resolution concerning specific recommendations.  The task force hereby strongly encourages the village board to research and resolve these issues .




4.        Infrastructure


1.          Sidewalks:  The 50%/50% cost sharing for sidewalk replacement along village streets has not effectively produced accessible public sidewalks.  We recommend that the Village determine how to best achieve the goal of accessible public sidewalks.  The Task Force stresses that this should be a high priority for the Village.  Smooth public sidewalks, linking building to building and to other forms of transportation (such as bus stops), along with properly designed curb cuts and smooth and safe crosswalks at streets link an accessible path of travel throughout the Village.  Sidewalks are the primary, and in some cases, the only form of transportation for many of Oak Park=s elderly and disabled citizens and visitors.[12]


2.         Accessible on-street parking: The Village should review their policies concerning accessible on-street parking on a continual basis to assure that the spaces provided in both residential and commercial districts are provided in sufficient numbers for the uses served and that they are functionally accessible.  Each accessible space should  be clearly marked both on the street and by means of a sign mounted on a post.  The Village should look at other environmental issues with relation to on-street parking spaces such as nearby tree planting locations, height of curbs and planters adjacent to the accessible spaces, to avoid unintended functional conflict.



5.        Housing


1.          The Village should investigate whether a mechanism should be established for enforcement of the Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA) with regard to accessibility in new multi-family housing buildings with four or more units in the same building.


2.         The Village should investigate whether a village ordinance should be written which will lead to creation of more accessible private housing in existing buildings in Oak Park.  No current laws, codes or ordinances either at the local, state or federal level regulate accessibility in existing housing unless the federal government provides funding or unless there is extensive rehabilitation of the building which occurs.



6.        Village Hall Accessibility


Serious concerns were raised in the focus groups by several persons with disabilities pertaining to the current Village plans for providing accessibility into Village Hall.   The basement entrance was perceived as being Aunsafe@ and Aundignified.@  The Task Force recommends that the Village research and resolve these access and perception issues.



















These words have the following meanings within this document:


Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (referred to simply as AADA@ in this document) is the civil rights statute for people with disabilities.  In the ADA,  Congress has recognized that nearly 43 million Americans have some form of disability.  Indeed, surveys indicate that every person in this country has a one-in-two chance of having a family member with a disability, and a one-in-three chance of having a disability in his or her lifetime.  The ADA is simply an act which affects and protects all of us at some time in our lives.


BOCA/National Building Code (BOCA)

The BOCA/National Building Code (referred to simply as ABOCA@ in this document) is the model code adopted by the Village of Oak Park and enforced at the Village level by the Oak Park Code Administration Department.  BOCA has some accessibility requirements which differ slightly from the EBA.


Commercial Facility (ADA Title III)

ACommercial Facilities@ means buildings that are used for offices (except those offices which are listed under the heading Apublic accommodations@), warehouses and factories.



ADisability@ as that term is defined by the ADA and most other federal, state and local statutes, broadly encompasses everyone for whom disability might be an issue.  It includes:


U  Any person with a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities (working, caring for oneself, breathing, walking, thinking, hearing, seeing, etc.)

U  Any person with a record of such an impairment (e.g., someone who has been previously diagnosed with cancer, but has passed the five-year cure rate), or,

U  Any person who is regarded to have such an impairment even if that perception is incorrect (e.g., someone who has a skin discoloration which does not substantially affect a major life function, but is perceived to have life-threatening cancer).





Environmental Barriers Act (EBA)

The Illinois Environmental Barriers Act (referred to simply as AEBA@ in this document) is the state law which mandates accessibility in all new construction and mandates a sliding scale of accessibility for buildings which undergo alterations, depending on the amount of money spent on the alterations compared to the cost of reproduction of the original building.  The Illinois Accessibility Code (IAC) is the rule created by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rulemaking (AJCAR@) of the Illinois General Assembly  which implements the EBA.  The technical standards referenced from the IAC are ANSI A117.1‑1986.  There are no requirements for existing buildings that do not undergo alterations, except buildings which are leased by the Village, which must be accessible and provide accessible toilets.  The EBA is enforced by the Village of Oak Park Code Administration Department, as required by State law.


Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA)

The Fair Housing Amendments Act (referred to simply as AFHAA@ in this document) is a federal law which regulates design of new housing where four or more units are incorporated into the same building.  It is not enforced by the Code Administration Department, but by the courts.


Public Accommodations

Public Accommodations as defined in the ADA describe buildings which are privately owned and incorporate functions which provide some type of goods or services to the public.  Not included in this definition are government owned buildings, offices (except accountants and health-care providers), warehouses, and buildings owned or operated by a religious institution or private club.


Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS)

UFAS is the accessibility standard which has been required for all Federally owned and financed buildings since 1988.  It was written through a joint effort by the four major federal agencies which construct buildings: General Services Administration, Department of Defense, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Postal Service.







Appendix B


Government-Owned or Operated Buildings in Oak Park (ADA Title II)




The ADA mandates that all state and local government services, programs and activities, Awhen viewed in their entirety@[13]  be accessible to all members of the public Ain the most integrated setting,@[14]  without discrimination and without additional cost to disabled persons.[15]   This may require modifications to buildings or other physical structures owned or operated by the various branches of government to provide the accessible services, programs and activities.



Village Owned or Operated Buildings

Village Hall

Police Department Main Headquarters and Police Satellite Stations

Fire Main Station and Branch Stations

Dole Library (building owned by Village and leased to the Oak Park Library and other tenants)

Water Department

615 Lake Street

2-10 Chicago Avenue

Public Health Satellite Office in the Medical Arts Building

Satellite Parking Office

Holly Court Parking Garage

Lake-Forest Parking Garage






Other Local Government Owned or Operated Buildings in Oak Park

Park District of Oak Park

Rehm Pool, 551 Garfield

Ridgeland Pool, 415 Lake

Ridgeland Commons Ice Rink

Elizabeth F. Cheney Mansion, 215 North Euclid

Pleasant Home, 217 Home

Anderson Recreation Center, 820 North Hayes

Barrie Recreation Center, 1011 South Lombard

Carroll Recreation Center 1125 South Kenilworth

Field Recreation Center, 935 Woodbine

Fox Recreation Center 625 South Oak Park

Longfellow Recreation Center, 625 South Ridgeland

Stevenson Recreation Center, 49 West Lake

Main Office, 218 Madison

Conservatory, 615 Garfield

Park Comfort Stations, Taylor Park, Scoville Park, and Lindberg Park


School District 97

Emerson Junior High School, 900 West Washington

Percy Julian Junior High School, 420 South Ridgeland

Lincoln Elementary School, 1111 South Grove

Hatch Elementary School, 1000 North Ridgeland

Beye Elementary School, 230 Ontario

Holmes Elementary School, 500 North Kenilworth

Irving Elementary School, 1125 South Cuyler

Longfellow Elementary School, 715 South Highland

Horace Mann Elementary School, 921 North Kenilworth

Whittier School, 713 North Harvey

District 97 Administrative Office, 970 Madison


School District 200

Oak Park and River Forest High School


Oak Park Township

Main Township Offices

Senior Services in the Oak Park Arms


Oak Park Public Library

Main Library, 834 Lake Street

Dole Branch, 255 Augusta

Maze Branch, 845 South Gunderson


Illinois State Government Owned or Operated Buildings in Oak Park

Illinois Department of Transportation Facility, 445 Harrison

Appendix C


Public Accommodations in Oak Park

(ADA Title III)


APublic Accommodations@ in Oak Park include (but are not necessarily limited to) the following types of privately owned  property uses or occupancies.  The ADA mandates immediate modifications to these types of buildings to make them accessible (called Abarrier removal@) to at least a minimum extent as long as it is Areadily achievable@ for the owner to do so.[16]


Accountants= Offices

Adoption Agencies

All Levels of Private Schools




Barber Shops


Beauty Shops

Bowling Alleys

Clothing Stores

Concert Halls

Day Care Centers

Dentists= Offices

Doctors= Offices

Dry Cleaners

Food Banks

Funeral Parlors


Gas Stations

Grocery Stores


Hardware Stores

Health Spas

Health-care Providers Offices

Homeless Shelters


Hotels (But Not ABed-and-breakfast@ Houses)

Insurance Offices


Lawyers= Offices

Lecture Halls


Movie Theaters




Places of Exercise or Recreation

Privately Owned Public Transportation Depots

Privately Sponsored Public Events on any Site Psychiatrists= Offices

Psychologists= Offices


Sales or Rental Stores

Senior Citizens Centers

Service Establishments

Shoe Repair Services

Social Service Centers

Social-workers Offices



Tourist Attractions

Travel Bureaus

Appendix D


Ideas Developed from Other Communities[17]


q  Produce a video on Universal Access.  The video could show things like using a ramp to allow access for a mobility-limited person to go up one step, show operation of a simple platform lift, show a person using a wheelchair trying to open a door whose lock is too close to a sidewall, show the use of lever handle locks, show a person using large print menus, show a meeting in which a sign language interpreter is working, show a typical Village Board meeting with stenographer making instant interpretation of spoken words, show possibilities in re-arranging shelving to provide access between aisles, show installation of railings to assist in mounting stairs.


q   Hold a public presentation of the Village=s Transition Plan.


q   Purchase a Kurzweil machine or reading machine for library.


q   Install public-use TDD/TTYs at Village Hall, main and branch libraries.


q   Include the Village Hall=s TDD/TTY number on business cards of all Village staff and officers.


q   Create a ADisability Services Office.@


q   Provide accessible police cars and taxis.


q   Establish a standardized Ainadequate access@ complaint procedure.


q   Know if there are any accessible hotel rooms in the Village, where they are, and what they cost.  If there are not, encourage one of the hoteliers to install them.


q   Provide standard information for organizations concerning where to hire a sign-language interpreter, what their fees are, and why they would want them.


q   Post notice of Village=s policy of non-discrimination at entrance to all Village buildings.


q   Place access slogans in newspapers every week like AUniversal Access is Good for Business.@


q   Make available to public the film, AMaking the ADA Work for You@ by Barr Media Group.


q   Add stick-on labels to every letter which is mailed out from Village Hall concerning the Village=s commitment to Universal Access.  Label could also be in Braille.


q   Produce an ADA compliance guide.


q   Send an emergency information form out to all addresses in Village asking for voluntary reporting of disability or medical problems to go into the 911 database.




Appendix E


Accessibility Recognition Program


One possible accessibility recognition program would be to make a certificate, plaque or window sticker available to all organizations who could demonstrate compliance with accessibility laws in providing their goods and services to disabled persons. Such recognition could be used by the organization in their advertising or telephone directory listing, thus having a further impact on positive attitudes toward non-discrimination. Compliance could be measured against a measurable standard, such as minimum door widths, minimum wheelchair turning radius space, floor level changes within the path of travel provided with a ramp or lift, proper ramp slopes, proper design of accessible restrooms, or alternative and non-discriminatory dispensing of goods and services.  The compliance mechanism would need to be equitably established by the Village.  If an appropriate methodology is found, this program could potentially be another proactive means to foster compliance with accessibility laws.
















Appendix F


Oak Park Universal Access Program

for Places of Public Accommodation




Accessibility Checklist for Existing Buildings in Oak Park, Illinois

based on both the ADA Regulations and the Illinois Accessibility Code


Adapted from AChecklist for Existing Facilities@ by Adaptive Environments Center, Inc. And Barrier Free Environments, Inc., 1992.



Owners and business tenants of existing places of public accommodation who are not remodeling or adding onto their building are required by the ADA to provide access which is Areadily achievable.@[18]  This checklist describes the changes which can provide access along with their level of importance and their relative costs.  If complete access cannot be readily achieved, the owner or tenant is required to provide whatever access can be readily achieved in the following order of priority:


1.  Access Entrance into the building

2.  Access to goods and services provided within the building

3.  Accessible restrooms

4.  Access to other facilities, such as drinking fountains and telephones


If these access features cannot be achieved within a short time period because they cannot be carried out without much difficulty or expense, then the owners or business tenants are required to create a plan for achieving accessibility over a period of years.






Types of buildings considered Places of Public Accommodations:


r   Inn, hotel, motel (not including bed & breakfast buildings which have 5 or fewer rooms for rent and which is proprietor-occupied).

r   Restaurant serving food or drink.

r   Theater, stadium, or other place of exhibition or entertainment.

r   Auditorium, lecture hall, or other place of public gathering.

r   Bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center, or other sales or rental center.

r   Laundromat, dry cleaner, bank, barber shop, beauty shop, travel service, shoe-repair service, funeral parlor, gas station, office of accountant or lawyer, pharmacy, insurance office, professional office of a health care provider, hospital, or other service establishment.

r   Terminal, depot, or other station used for public transportation.

r   Museum, library, gallery, or other place of public display or collection.

r   Park, zoo, amusement park or other place of recreation.

r   Nursery school, elementary school, secondary school, undergraduate or post graduate private school, or other place of education, not owned or controlled by a religious organization.

r   Day care center, senior citizen center, homeless shelter, food bank, adoption agency, or other social service center establishment.

r   Gymnasium, health spa, bowling alley, golf course, or other place of public exercise or recreation.



Relative costs in table are as follows:

Low:       $0 to $100

Medium:      $100 to $1000

High:      More than $1000





Barrier-removal checklist


Suggested barrier-removal or alternative solutions


Relative cost


Priority 1:

Accessible Entrance





Is parking lot gravel?


Pave accessible parking spaces and access to sidewalks






Are there sufficient accessible parking spaces? 


Total spaces               Accessible

1-20                      1 space

21-50                    2 spaces

51-75                    3 spaces

76-100                  4 spaces


Restripe lot to provide correct number of accessible spaces.






Are all accessible parking spaces 16'-0" wide with half of space diagonally striped?


Restripe lot to create correct width for accessible spaces






Are accessible parking spaces located on the shortest possible path to an accessible entrance to the building?


Restripe lot






Does each accessible parking space have a AReserved@ sign with a $50 fine sign on a post or on the wall?  Is there a AVan Accessible@ sign on at least 1 space in every 8 accessible spaces?


Add required signs and remove non-complying signs






If spaces are in garage structure, is there a 98" minimum height clearance for at least 1 in every 8 accessible spaces for vans?


Move accessible spaces to location where 98" vertical clearance is available













Passenger Loading Zones


If the building is provided with a passenger loading zone, is there a 60" wide access walk from the loading zone to the front door of the building?


Provide access walk.






Is there a 114" high vertical clearance to the passenger loading zone?


Relocate passenger loading zone to provide required clearance.


Eliminate passenger loading zone.
















Path of Travel


Is there a sidewalk that leads to an accessible entrance?


Provide sidewalk.






Is the sidewalk stable, firm and slip-resistant?


Reconstruct sidewalk.  Use concrete, asphalt, or tight jointed masonry.






Is the sidewalk at least 36" wide?


Reconstruct sidewalk.






If the sidewalk is less than 60" wide, is there passing spaces at least 60" square every 200 feet along the path?


Install passing space landings.






If objects protrude within the sidewalk area, can they be detected by a blind person with a cane? 

In order to be detected by a cane, an object must be within 27" of the ground.  Objects hanging overhead must be at least 80" above the sidewalk level.  Objects that protrude 4" or less from a wall do not have to be removed.


Remove protruding objects.


Construct a guard around protruding object that can be detected by a cane.


Trim overhanging branches above 80" above sidewalk.











Are there curb ramps at every curb along the accessible sidewalk to the building entrance?


Install curb ramp.






Do curb ramps have detectable warning strips on sloping surface?

By Illinois requirements, detectable warnings are 1/4" to 3/4' wide parallel grooves in concrete spaced 1" to 2 3/4" on center.


Reconstruct concrete curb ramp to provide detectable warnings.


Add surfacing to existing curb ramps to comply with detectable warning design.









Do curb ramps have no more than 1 in 12 slope?


Reconstruct curb ramp.






Do sides of curb ramps have slopes with no more than 1 in 10 where pedestrians must pass across curb ramp?


Reconstruct curb ramp.


Install guard rails.








Are there stairs or steps along the sidewalk that leads to the accessible entrance to the building?


Re-route the sidewalk to eliminate the steps.


Install an accessible ramp along the sidewalk.


Install a platform lift or a stair lift












Are the slopes of ramps no greater than

1 in 12?

At least one foot of ramp length is required for each inch of rise


Lengthen ramp to decrease slope.


Relocate ramp.


Reconfigure ramp to include landing and switchback










Do ramps with slopes of greater than 1 in 20 and lengths greater than 72" or height greater than 6" have handrails on both sides?


Add handrails.






Is top of handrail 34" above ramp surface?


Remove and re-set handrail height.






Is handrail 1 1/4" to 1 2" in diameter?


Remove and replace handrail.






Does ramp have slip-resistant surface?


Roughen surface or add slip-resistant surface to ramp.






Does ramp have edge-protection?

Edge protection can be either be closely spaced balusters on the handrail, 2" min. high curbs, walls or 12" wide platform extension.


Reconstruct ramp or railing to provide edge protection.






Is there a 60" long landing at top and bottom of ramp and at every 30" rise or every 30 foot run of ramp?


Reconstruct ramp to provide landings.













Entrance to Building


Are there stairs at the main entrance of the building?


Provide an alternative accessible entrance that is not a service entrance.


Provide a platform lift or a stair lift.


Provide a ramp.












Do all inaccessible entrances have signs indicating the location of the nearest accessible entrance?


Provide signs at or before inaccessible entrances.






Is entrance door min. 32" wide clear when opened?


Install wider door.


Remove and install offset hinges to create wider opening when door is fully open.


Assure that the door opening is at least 29 2" wide clear if replacement of door is not affordable.











Is there at least 18" clearance on the pull side of doors?


Move door.


Reverse door swing, if possible.


Move or remove adjacent partitions or furniture.










Is threshold no higher than 2" with beveled edges?


Remove and replace threshold.


Ramp up to threshold.








Are doormats stable, firm and slip-resistant?


Remove doormat.


Secure doormat at all edges.








Are doormats less than 1/4" high or have beveled edges to a max. Thickness of 2"


Remove and replace doormat.






Is door handle no higher than 48"


Lower handle.






Is door handle operable with a closed fist?

The Aclosed fist@ test for door handles: Try opening the door using only one hand held in a fist.  If you can do it, so can a person who has limited use of his or her  hands.


Replace door knob with a lever handle lock.


Add a lever extension to an existing door knob.









Can exterior doors be opened with not more than 8.5 lbs force?


Install new closer to reduce opening force.


Install hydraulic or electric automatic opener.









Can interior doors be opened with not more than 5 lbs force?


Install new closer to reduce opening force.


Install hydraulic or electric automatic opener.










Does door closer delay closing of door so that there is at least 3 seconds delay from 90 degrees open to 12 degrees open?


Adjust closer.


Install new delay-action closer.















Fire Alarms


Do fire alarms have both flashing lights and audible signals?


Install strobe lights connected to alarm system in compliance with intensity and frequency requirements.




Priority 2:

Access to Goods and Services



Horizontal circulation


Are all public spaces on an accessible route?


Provide accessible route to all public spaces.


Low to Medium




Is accessible route at least 36" wide?


Move furnishings, tables, chairs, display racks, vending machines and counters to make more room.






Is there a 60" diameter circle clearance or a T-shaped space for a person in a wheelchair to turn around?


Move furnishings, tables, chairs, display racks, vending machines and counters to make more room.






Is carpeting low pile, tightly woven, and securely attached at the edges?


Remove carpeting and replace.






If objects protrude within the accessible route, can they be detected by a blind person with a cane? 

In order to be detected by a cane, an object must be within 27" of the floor.  Objects hanging overhead must be at least 80" above the floor level.  Objects that protrude 4" or less from a wall do not have to be removed.


Remove protruding objects.


Construct a guard around protruding object that can be detected by a cane.



















Do all doors have at least a 32" clear passage?


Install new door of correct width


Install offset hinges to increase opening width


Allow reduced width to minimum of 29 2" clear width if other solutions are not readily achievable











Is there at least 18" clearance on the pull side of doors?


Move door.


Reverse door swing, if possible.


Move or remove adjacent partitions or furniture.


Install hydraulic or electric automatic opener.













Is threshold no higher than 2" with beveled edges?


Remove and replace threshold.


Ramp up to threshold.








Is door handle no higher than 48"


Lower handle.






Is door handle operable with a closed fist?

The Aclosed fist@ test for door handles: Try opening the door using only one hand held in a fist.  If you can do it, so can a person who has limited use of his or her  hands.


Replace door knob with a lever handle lock.


Add a lever extension to an existing door knob.









Can doors be opened with not more than 5 lbs force?


Install new closer to reduce opening force.


Install hydraulic or electric automatic opener.









Does door closer delay closing of door so that there is at least 3 seconds delay from 90 degrees open to 12 degrees open?


Adjust closer.


Install new delay-action closer.

















Are the slopes of ramps no greater than

1 in 12?

At least one foot of ramp length is required for each inch of rise


Lengthen ramp to decrease slope.


Relocate ramp.


Reconfigure ramp to include landing and switchback










Do ramps with slopes of greater than 1 in 20 and lengths greater than 72" or height greater than 6" have handrails on both sides?


Add handrails.






Is top of handrail 34" above ramp surface?


Remove and re-set handrail height.






Is handrail 1 1/4" to 1 2" in diameter?


Remove and replace handrail.






Does ramp have slip-resistant surface?


Roughen surface or add slip-resistant surface to ramp.






Does ramp have edge-protection?

Edge protection can be either be closely spaced balusters on the handrail, 2" min. high curbs, walls or 12" wide platform extension.


Reconstruct ramp or railing to provide edge protection.






Is there a 60" long landing at top and bottom of ramp and at every 30" rise or every 30 foot run of ramp?


Reconstruct ramp to provide landings.















Are there both visible and audible door opening/closing signals and floor indicators?


Install visible and audible signals -- the audible signals may be either verbal (recorded or synthesized voice), or tones (one tone to indicate upward direction, two tomes to indicate downward direction)






Are the call buttons in the hallway no higher than 42" above the floor?


Lower call buttons


Provide a permanently attached reach stick








Do the controls outside and inside the cab have raised and braille lettering?


Install raised and braille lettering next to buttons






Is there a sign on the jamb at each floor identifying the floor in raised and braille lettering?


Install tactile signs to identify floor numbers, at a height of 60" above the floor






If there is an emergency communication system or intercom, Is it usable without voice communication?


Replace communication system.






If there is an emergency communication system or intercom, are there raised letter and braille instructions?


Add simple raised letter and braille instructions.













Vertical Platform or Stair Lifts


Can the lift be used without assistance?


At each stopping level, post clear instructions on how to use the lift.


Provide a call button.









Is there at least 30" x 48" of clear space for a person using a wheelchair to approach to reach the controls and use the lift?


Rearrange furnishings and equipment to clear more space.


Move controls









Are controls between 15" and 48" high, or up to 54" high if a side approach is possible?


Move controls.













Stairs connecting levels which are not connected by an elevator, lift or ramp


Do stairs have non-slip surface?


Add non-slip vinyl or rubber tread if interior stairs; add non-slip insert if exterior stairs






Do stairs have continuous handrails on both sides with extensions beyond the top and bottom stairs?


Replace handrails


Alter handrails.






Priority 3:

Access to Toilet Room Facilities



Providing accessible restrooms


Is there at least one restroom for each sex accessible, or one unisex restroom accessible?


Provide new accessible unisex restroom.


Redesign one restroom for each sex to make accessible.









Are there signs at inaccessible restrooms that give directions to accessible restrooms?


Provide directional signs with raised lettering and braille giving directions to accessible restrooms.







Are there signs with raised lettering and braille at accessible restrooms identifying them as accessible?


Provide signs with raised lettering and braille and with pictograms showing men or women, and with the symbol of accessibility identifying accessible restroom





Doors into restrooms


Do all doors have at least a 32" clear passage?


Install new door of correct width


Install offset hinges to increase opening width


Allow reduced width to minimum of 29 2" clear width if other solutions are not readily achievable











Is there at least 18" clearance on the pull side of doors?


Move door.


Reverse door swing, if possible.


Move or remove adjacent partitions or furniture.


Install hydraulic or electric automatic opener.













Is threshold no higher than 2" with beveled edges?


Remove and replace threshold.


Ramp up to threshold.








Is door handle no higher than 48"


Lower handle.






Is door handle operable with a closed fist?

The Aclosed fist@ test for door handles: Try opening the door using only one hand held in a fist.  If you can do it, so can a person who has limited use of his or her  hands.


Replace door knob with a lever handle lock.


Add a lever extension to an existing door knob.









Can doors be opened with not more than 5 lbs force?


Install new closer to reduce opening force.


Install hydraulic or electric automatic opener.








Does door closer delay closing of door so that there is at least 3 seconds delay from 90 degrees open to 12 degrees open?


Adjust closer.


Install new delay-action closer.







Passage within restrooms


Does the restroom layout permit adequate maneuvering space for a person using a wheelchair?


Rearrange accessories such as chairs and trashcans


Remove inner door if there is a vestibule with 2 doors


Move or remove obstructing partitions.












Is there a 36" wide passageway to at least one of the fixtures?


Remove obstructions.





Accessible stall layout and design


Is the stall door operable with a closed fist, from either inside or outside?


Replace latch and knob with lever or loop handles.


Add lever extensions to knob.









Is the accessible stall at least 36" wide


Revise partitions






Is the accessible stall at least 66" deep if it has a wall-hung water closet or at least 69" long if it has a floor mounted water closet?


Revise partitions






In a stall with width 48= wide or wider, are there grab bars behind and to the close side wall of the water closet?


Install grab bars






In a stall with width less than 48", are there grab bars on each side of the stall?


Install grab bars






Are grab bars located 33" to 36" above the floor?


Relocate grab bars.






Is the height of the water closet 17" to 19" above the floor?


Add raised seat.


Replace the water closet with an accessible water closet.









Does at least one lavatory have a 30" wide x 48" deep clear space in front?

A maximum of 19" of the required depth may be under the lavatory



Remove or alter cabinetry to provide clear space in front.


Replace lavatory


Rearrange furnishings.











Is the lavatory rim no higher than 34"


Adjust lavatory height.






Is there 29" vertical clearance from the floor to the bottom of the apron?


Adjust or replace lavatory.






Can the faucet be operated with one closed fist?


Replace faucet handles with paddle handles or cross type handles.






Are soap dispensers, towel dispensers, other dispensers and hand driers located at maximum of 48" above the floor and usable with one closed fist?


Lower dispensers.


Replace dispensers or provide additional dispensers.








Is a mirror mounted with bottom edge of the reflecting surface maximum of 40" above the floor?


Lower the mirror.


Add a full length mirror in another accessible location within the restroom.








Are the hot water and drain pipes exposed?


Insulate pipes.




Priority 4:

Access to other Facilities



Drinking fountains


Is there at least one drinking fountain with clear space of at least 30" wide x 48" in front?


Rearrange or remove furnishings.






Is there one drinking fountain with a spout no higher than 36" above the floor and another one with a standard height spout (42")?


Provide cup dispensers adjacent to drinking fountain with spouts that are too high or too low.


Lower existing wall-hung drinking fountain.


Provide accessible drinking fountains which are 36" and 42" to spouts..


Provide accessible water cooler.
















Are the controls for the drinking fountain mounted on the front or on the side near the front edge and operable with one closed fist?


Replace the controls.






Does the drinking fountain protrude no more than 4" into a hallway?


Place a planter or other cane-detectable barrier on each side at floor level.







If pay or other public use telephones are provided, is there clear floor space of at least 30" x 48" in front of at least one?


Move furnishings.


Replace telephone booth with an open station telephone.


Add new accessible telephone.











Is the highest operable part of the telephone no higher than 48" above the floor of 54" if a side approach is possible?


Lower one telephone






Does the telephone protrude no more than 4" into a hallway?


Provide a cane-detectable barrier on each side.






Does the telephone have push buttons?


Replace telephone with push button type.






Is the telephone hearing-aid compatible?


Replace or modify telephone to make it hearing-aid compatible type.






Does the telephone have volume control?


Replace telephone






Is the telephone volume control identified with appropriate signage?


Add signage.






Is one of the telephones equipped with text telephone(TDD)?


Install a text telephone.


Have a portable text telephone available.








Is the location of the text telephone identified by accessible signage with the TDD symbol?


Add signage.



Appendix G


Focus Group Meeting Minutes


The attached minutes were recorded during Focus Group meetings held on February 22, 1995, March 17, 1995, June 13, 1995 and September 14, 1995.

Minutes of Focus Group Meeting

February 22, 1995

Small Business Owners


Business Subcommittee:

Karen Herman

Kate Yannias

George Pelligrini



A business focus group with four business representatives was held on February 22, 1995.  The focus group was formed by members of the business sub-committee of the Task Force on the Policy to Promote Access, Karen Herman, George Pelligrini, and Kate Yannias.  Following are the major concerns heard from the focus group:


1.     Awareness: From the beginning of the meeting, there was concern that small businesses did not have the legal and architectural expertise available to answer even simple accessibility questions.  Often, the attendees noted, rather than attempt to seek a solution, the business owner would wait for the Village to complain and then seek legal or architectural assistance.  After the meeting, Committee members raised the additional concern that the lawyers and architects consulted by small businesses might not have the special expertise necessary to answer such questions.  There was real concern that accessibility would be so expensive as to drive small business owners out of business.


There was much discussion about the inconsistencies of answers received by these small business owners/managers from Village personnel.  Indeed, it appears that in one circumstance a business owner was given contradictory answers from two departments about the requirements of the ADA, which, of course, the Village is not enforcing.


A solution proposed by the attendees was training sessions.  There was strong support for training sessions geared toward the ADA requirements of small businesses, but, more importantly, on solutions that even small businesses can use.  Even training sessions required by the Village to maintain a business license received support, although not unanimous support.  One Committee member noted that multi-residential building owners must attend training sessions to maintain their licenses and this is a very similar situation.


One member suggested that training sessions should be geared toward the individual businesses (e.g., food, retain) and that sessions should be at various times during the day and evening and on weekends.  Those who would be attending could be encouraged to submit specific problems that they would like to be addressed prior to the meeting.


The attendees expressed strong sentiment against having Village personnel conduct the training sessions and urged that outside consultants with expertise in this area be hired.  We also discussed the usefulness of inviting vendors of accessibility products and services to bring examples and displays.  There was some surprise at the number of inexpensive solutions to access problems which were suggested by Task Force Committee members.


2.     ADA Plan on file: One attendee suggested that in order to get a license, a business could be required to have an ADA implementation plan on file available to the public.  This person noted that his company had such a plan, but it was a much larger company than others in attendance.  We discussed whether most businesses would have the resources necessary to develop such plans.  (Note that the training sessions could be geared toward the development of such plans, which are advisable for all businesses.)


3.     Anti-ordinance sentiment: Those attending expressed a strong opposition to any additional ordinances.  With a myriad of federal and state laws regulating small businesses and with the relative inexpertise of Village personnel, those attending felt overloaded and threatened.


There was serious concern that the Village was proposing to adopt its own access code which would be different from the federal law and state code.


During conversation about the possible need to pass an ordinance to require training meetings (see #1) or ADA implementation plans (see #2), the opposition to an ordinance was not as intense.  (Clearly any change in Village requirements or practices -- with or without an ordinance -- must be marketed very carefully if voluntary compliance is the goal.)



Impact on Businesses



4.     Increased awareness of the potential market of disabled customers

5.     Increased opportunities for transmission of communication and good, accurate information to small business owners, i.e., through Atraining@ sessions, publications available, other resources people and places

6.     Better compliance with the ADA, particularly concerning Aplans@ for compliance

7.     Better quality economic development being supported and subsidized by Village programs, e.g., Retail Rehab Grants



8.     A feeling of fear and frustation regarding additional government interference in small business

9.     The cost of accommodations

10.  Misinformation on the ADA being provided by Village staff or uneducated attorneys

11.  ADA advocates assessment that accommodations can be made inexpensively; many businesses want to use quality materials and would rather make no changes rather than utilize Acheap@ materials to come into compliance

12.  Enforcement of ADA and possibly overzealous Village employees may advise wrongly




End of focus group minutes

Minutes of Focus Group Meeting

March 17, 1995

Not-for Profit Organizations


Not-for-Profit Subcommittee:

Nancy Waichler

Robin Jones

Ron Lilek

Kim Quarles



Greg Thomas, Unity Temple

Ann Straw, Parenthesis

Irwin Rothenberg, Community Response

Jennifer Wheeler, Hemingway Society

Claire Marie Keenan, 19th Century Women=s Club

Valerie Schultz, Oak Park YMCA

John Thorpe, Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio and Unity Temple Restoration Foundation

Judy Jorgenson, Grateful House



Q1. Is your organization familiar with the ADA requirements?

A.  All organizations were familiar with ADA.  They obtained the information by seeking out the legislation.  Come contacted VOP.  Parenthesis and YMCA became familiar with ADA requirements as a result of their application for Village CDBG funds.


Q2. Who maintains/has ADA information available for your organization -- your architect, your lawyer, others?

A.  Most of the entities indicated that they had no central repository for ADA information.  In attempting to comply with ADA requirements, they rely on a number of sources: Village Hall, architects, and knowledgeable disabled persons.  Many of the entities have relied on information provided by John Moore, Bob Dugal, and the Committee for the Disabled.  The groups do not know to whom they should listen.  They get different answers depending upon whom they contact.  Information from the Village departments may not be consistent from department to department.  The entities do not know where to go to get consistent, common sense advice on compliance requirements.





Q3. What, if any, resources does your organization have available to meet the requirements of the ADA?

A.  With the exception of Unity Temple, who just received a $10,000 bequest for accessibility provision, the response of all entities was the same, they do not have adequate resources.


Q4. Would information regarding funding for ADA compliance be useful to your organization?

A.  All entities responded affirmatively (but also see answer to question 5).


Q5. If the Village of Oak Park ties funding to ADA compliance, (for example, CDBG Block Grant Funds, OPAAC funds, etc.) what impact would this have on your organization?

A.  Some entities are not funded by the Village. Impact on them would be insignificant.  The entities receiving funds have already had experience with the CDBG process.  One entity had voluntarily undergone an ADA compliance audit, prepared a report and then was advised by CDBG that it was irrelevant, they needed their own report.  It was a frustrating process for these entities as different departments within Village Hall provide inconsistent information.


Q6. Is there information which has been provided which has been useful to your understanding of the ADA?  If yes, what has been provided?  If no, would your organizatin like to receive information?

A.  The entities, on their own initiative sought out the ADA legislation.  None have received supplemental information.


Q7. Would seminars on ADA compliance benefit your organization?

A.  The discussion on this question evidenced the intense frustration of the not-for-profit organizations.  They do not know to whom they should be listening.  Currently they are receiving inconsistent information from at least three different groups.  All of the entities want thorough, consistent, rational, efficient, and non-reactionary assistance.


Q8. Would volunteer training in ADA compliance be useful to your organization?

A.  See answers to questions 5 and 7.


Q9. If training were provided, on what aspect of the ADA should it focus?

A.  See answer to question 7.


Q10.       Is your facility accessible to people who are mobility impaired?

A.  The groups felt that there were a number of issues related to this question.  First, many of the entities do not own their own facility, they rent.  Who is responsible for accessibility?  They cannot force the landlord to allocate funds for compliance.  How is accessibility defined?  Many entities try to be accessible, but they do not know what that means.  Some facilities are accessible, some are not.


Q11.       If your facility is accessible or partially accessible, how would a mobility-impaired individual access your facility?

A.  This question was not asked.


Q12.       Is parking provided?  If yes, are accessible spaces designated?

A.  None of the entities have parking lots.  This question does not apply.


Q13.       Are accessible restrooms available?

A.  The response was once again Ahow is Aaccessible@ defined?@  Some felt that they had accessible restrooms, some did not.


Q14.       For tourism-related entities, if your facility has limited access, do you provide video tours and/or audio taped descriptions of areas that cannot be made accessible?

A.  Tourism entities responded that special arrangements can be made in advance.  Some have audio/video taped descriptions, some do not have the resources available to implement these programs, although they would like to have it available.


Q15.       For social service agencies, if your facility has limited access, do you provide video or audio services?  Home visits?  Other accommodation?

A.  Social service agencies try to provide alternate services such as home visits, audio services, etc.  Some of these agencies have clients with more than one Adisability.@  For example alcoholism is considered a disability.  Social service agencies who are serving this disabled population (such as Grateful House) must accommodate a different Achallenged@ population, e.g., substance-abusing wheelchair users, or relatives of substance-abusing individuals.  The burden on these agencies is extreme.


Q16.       For tourism entities, if tours are offered, are signed tours available?  If yes, how are these tours requested?  How are operators informed about availability?

a.   If you do not offer signed tours, are manuscripts available?

b.   Are recorded narration tours for blind and/or visually impaired individuals available?

c.   Is information provided in alternative formats such as Braille and/or raised lettering?

A.  The tourism entities are in various stages of availability.  Some have them available, but printed materials do not contain this information.  Once supplies of printed materials are exhausted, new printed material will provide information on how to access special tours.  Some entities are very accessible (for example, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio).  Some are not.


Q17.       For social service agencies, is information available through signed conversations for the hearing impaired?

A.  Not at this time.


Q18.       Is written information available to blind or visually-impaired individuals in alternative formats such as Braille and/or raised lettering?

A.  Not at this time.


Q19.       Do children as well as adults have access to special services?

A.  This question was not asked.


Q20.       What, if any, telephone access does your facility have?

A.  None of the entities has TDD.


Q21.       Has your organization had any interaction with the Village government regarding access requirements?

a.   If yes, please describe the experience.

b.   Was the Village entity involved helpful and informative?

A.  See answers to questions 2, 5, and 7.


Q22.       What ADA information would be helpful to your organization?

A.  See focus group discussion below.



Focus Group Discussion


The consensus of the group is that there are a number of issues related to ADA.  All of the entities are sincere in their strong desire to implement accessibility for their entities but their efforts are hindered by lack of funding, absense of consistent information, and reactionaries who are creating a high level of hostility.  The inconsistent information from the Village is generating a great deal of frustration.  The Village must provide consistent information and should not retain Athe reactionaries@ to analyze entities, as their agenda may be for implementation of requirements that may exceed ADA mandates.  The issue is one of reasonableness.  All entities want to be accessible, but ADA requires only reasonable compliance.




13.  The Village should allocate a portion of the CDBG funds for a Acompliance officer@ similar to that which exist in the City of Chicago.  This individual would be the repository for and would disseminate all Aofficial@ information regarding ADA.  This individual would certify compliance efforts as reasonable or not reasonable.  A combination of the City of Chicago compliance officer and the Great Lakes Business and Technical Information Center would be the model for this new program.


14.  Village must analyze possible policy modifications to enable entities to cost-effectively comply with the ADA.  For example, providing for use of service elevators for wheelchair accessibility instead of forcing an entity to undergoe the expense of another elevator.


15.  Village should research funding sources for ADA compliance and have that information available.


16.  Village should allocate CDBG funds solely for accessibility issues.


17.  Village should reign in Athe reactionaries.@  Additionally, to insure that compliance is not more stringent than that which is required by ADA, audits should not be performed by individuals with Aagendas.@



End of focus group minutes

Minutes of Focus Group Meeting

June 13, 1995

Individuals with Disabilities and Government Representatives


Government Subcommittee:

Elaine Sherman

Al Whitaker

Bob Dugal

Frank Heitzman



John Moore

Sheena Moore

Cathy Adelman

Naomi Law

Michael Grice

Bill Farley

Al Whitaker

Robin Jones

Anabell Abraham

Mary Wright

James King

Rosella Ryczek

Janet Prior Gayer

David Robb, Progress Center

Deborah Gnablan Spira

Carol Brey (Part Time)

Nancy Waichler

Bob Dugal

Elaine Sherman

Frank Heitzman



Questions were asked by Nancy Waichler:


Q23.       Are you familiar with your rights under Title I, Title II, and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act?

A. No, need more information


Q24.       What source or sources are you currently utilizing to get information about ADA?

A. Articles and word of mouth.




Q25.       Is there a representative or individual in your organization or your family who can assist you with ADA concerns?

A. There needs to be a list of organizations who can help -- some knew about the Progress Center and Great Lakes, but some did not.


Q26.       What were your expectations when ADA became law?  Were those expectations realized?

A. No relevant response


Q27.       How has ADA changed your life?

A. No relevant response


Q28.       ADA Requires that state and local government as well as places of public accommodations make reasonable modifications in their policies and procedures to ensure that their goods and services are accessible.  What does Areasonable@ mean to you?

A. No concrete answer -- People think it is a money issue, but it is not just that -- it is an attitude problem.  Try to be positive.  Lower level employees are typically a problem.  People put on their own restrictions about what I can or cannot do.  We need to have the community define what reasonable means.


Q29.       Comment on any that apply regarding ADA compliance relevant to your experience with:

The Village of Oak Park; The Oak Park Park District; District 97; District 200; The Oak Park Public Library

A. All government bodies should work together to create a central policy.  Common problems should be published.  There should be a program and special events check list created.


Q30.       Comment on local business= compliance with ADA relevant to your experience.  What is reasonable for business to undertake?

A. There was recently a new large facility built which was not accessible.  Why was this allowed by Code Administration Department?


Q31.       Many small businesses in Oak Park are in old buildings and/or second levels.  Can you suggest alternative means for their services that you would consider reasonable?

A. Businesses that do not provide accessibility will lose sales.


Q32.       Comment on not-for-profits= compliance with ADA relevant to your experience.  What modifications are reasonable for not-for-profits to undertake?

A. Village requires an ADA compliance report when federal funds are received.



Q33.       Comment on transportation compliance with ADA relevant to your experience.

A. Curb cuts sometimes are not present at bus stops.  Trees are a problem (roots bulge sidewalks).  A continuous route of travel is needed throughout the village.


Q34.       Do you feel seminars on ADA compliance would be beneficial to you?  What specific areas of ADA would you like addressed?

A. Opinions contrasted as to seminars= effectiveness.  Seminars are necessary on a continuing basis.  Access specialist in village would be helpful.  ADA has a cost implication to most people which is not always true.


Q35.       Should wording regarding Disability Rights be included in the Village of Oak Park=s Diversity Statement?

A. It is there now.


Q36.       Should ADA Requirements be part of our Village policy and ordinances?  What specific areas should be included?

A. Yes.  Hire someone who is knowledgeable to answer questions.  Since there are other government entities who control many buildings (Park District, Library, School Districts) any village efforts would only cover a portion of the total accessibility picture.  Business licenses should be predicated on accessibility.  There should be a mechanism for complaint and appeal.


Q37.       Do you have any specific problems or concerns not discussed this evening that you would like to mention?

A. Carol Brey stated that she would like to know about other materials the library should acquire.



End of Focus Group Minutes

Minutes of Focus Group Meeting

September 14, 1995

Individuals with Disabilities


Government Subcommittee:

Elaine Sherman

Al Whitaker

Bob Dugal

Frank Heitzman



Nancy Waichler

Frank Heitzman

Bob Dugal

Al Whitaker

Elaine Sherman

Paul Sher

Jim King

Rosellen Ryczek

Carole Condren

Jim Gassen

Bonnie Wujick

Annabel Abraham

Frank Mikel

Martha Meyers

Marty Duyer

Dina Hankins



Questions were asked by Nancy Waichler:


Q38.       Are there any problems that you are aware of with regard to access in the Village?

A.  More curb cuts are needed to provide accessible route of travel from home through local neighborhoods, as well as to business and public areas.  Some curb cuts lead nowhere, for example, there is no curb cut on the other side of the crosswalk.  Existing curb cuts and all new curb cuts should meet ADAAG requirements to insure proper slope and smooth transition.  Repairs and maintenance needed when cracks or upheaving exists on and around route of travel.  Such disrepair affects all individuals, not just wheelchair users. 


Texture at curb cuts would alert visually impaired of their location as well as change in elevation. 


Lights and street signage posts should be clear of curb cuts and off of route of travel.  Example of this problem is light pole at North and Harlem and one at Roosevelt and Ridgeland.


Enforcement by towing vehicles away that block curb cuts or designated accessible bus stops.


Alert Streets and Sanitation department not to block curb cuts with snow or fall leaves.


Establish contact resource for individuals to report areas that need curb cuts or where repairs are needed on existing curb cuts.


Workmanship is sloppy at curb cuts.


Village should establish time table for additions and repairs.



Q39.       Are Village buildings accessible?


A.  Village Hall and other public buildings are not accessible.


Service entrance as the only accessible entrance to Village Hall is insulting.  Individuals with disabilities want to be treated in a dignified manner.


Slope down to entrance is too steep and there are no handrails.


Service entrance is perceived as unsafe because of isolation and poor visibility. Video surveillance is not a remedy.


Entrance door at accessible entrance is difficult to pull open.


Village vehicles are parked in designated accessible parking spaces.


Police department is not accessible, but the recent neighborhood watch programs were held at accessible sites.  Chief Mendrick is very aware of rights of people with disabilities.


Main Branch Library is very accessible.


Most Park District Buildings are accessible.




Q40.       What policies would you like to see the Village adopt?

A.  Village Diversity Statement should include persons with disabilities.


All village-sponsored functions and programs should be accessible.  Example was mentioned of the village-sponsored Breast Cancer Seminar which was held at the 19th Century Women=s Club, which is not accessible.  The village should have known better, because both Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA require accessible programs.


The Village is doing less to provide access now than they had previously.  The Board has become complacent.  They no longer are in front and leading.  Access doesn=t just mean Building -- it is an attitude.  People with disabilities should be invited to come and be welcomed at all meetings.  The village should not have to apologize for or offend by pointing out needs.


We should not have to have a focus meeting to discuss the law.  The village should enforce the ADA Title II and/or the Capitol Development Board=s Environmental Barriers Act.


CDBG applicant=s form requires applicant to swear that they comply with the ADA.  This is good.  Other checks and follow-up and enforcement are needed after award of grant.


Focus group meeting announcement should have invited written response from individuals who could not attend.


There is a need for Village to assist in resolving complaints.  After contacting the Village Community Relations Department, the ADA Coordinator and Village manager seeking assistance to gain accessible entrance to Unity Temple, the individual was told to contact the U.S. Department of Justice.  The duty of the six Community Relations employees is with housing.  There was no written follow-up to calls.


Require annual ADA workshops on providing public accommodations, services, and attitudes for all public employees.  Staff changes and some individuals need repeated reminders on sensibility.


Committee on the Disabled needs to reexamine its mission.  There is no accountability for the committee.  The committee is as much a barrier to accessibility as a flight of stairs.  There must be an advocate for the disabled community who is not afraid to say what the Village Board does not want to hear.  It should not apologize for or offend when pointing out needs.


All committees and boards in the Village should be representative of the community which includes individuals with disabilities.  In appointing members to committees, the Village should be sensitive to this.  Individuals with disabilities can contribute in other areas besides accessibility issues.


Each committee and Board should have a representative attend the Committee on the Disabled committee meetings.


New downtown renovations must fully comply with ADAAG and be user friendly.  The developer is the same as used by River Forest Town Center which is not fully accessible.  An example is Walgreens.  Village needs to enforce the ADA.


Village should be an example and a beacon.


There is need for communication between the Village, the Township, and other governmental agencies to assure universal access throughout the Village.  They should work together in achieving Village-wide accessibility.


Q41.       What is your experience with the transportation system in the Village?

A.  The Village does not provide accessible transportation, but the Township does.  After a certain time of day, you cannot get around.  You have to be on a list.  You have to call PACE at 5:30 a.m.  The bus service door-to-door is a joke.  We do not have any impact on PACE. 


CTA accessible busses run only once per hour.  There is no real way for disabled to get around village.


What pressure is being put on the CTA by the village to make the CTA provide access to the Green line?


Q42.       What is your feeling about the businesses in Oak Park?

A.  There is a need for liaison with the Chamber of Commerce.  Many things just do not occur to most people.  Raise awareness.


Recommend that Great Lakes Technical Assistance Center do a workshop on how it is good business to comply with the ADA.


Accessibility is not only a wheelchair issue.  Braille menus and signage.  TDD phones for hearing impaired and availability of a relay system.  Attitudinal awareness of employees.


Do small things first.  The costs are not as great as one would think.

What is the best (most friendly way) to inform business owners that small changes would be helpful.  An example is a renovated bathroom where the door to bathroom toilet stall opens into the stall rather than outward, thus preventing access.  Renovations should be accessible.


Many retailers are already accessible and owners and operators have a positive attitude.  Eric=s Deli is a good example.  Only about a half-dozen restaurants are bad.


Bathroom accessibility is a standard problem.   Doors are hung wrong and toilets are too low.


Q43.       Other comments?

A.  The disabled community would like to be involved in the decision-making.  They would become more involved if they knew about things going on.


Networking is a problem.


Send minutes of this meeting and other Task Force meetings to individuals present tonight.


Notify disabled community when Task Force presents recommendations to Village Board.





End of Focus Group Minutes



Appendix H


Oak Park Curb Cut Map


(see next page)



Appendix I


Job Descriptions


Director of Disabled Services

for Schaumburg Township and Arlington Heights         


(See next 9 pages)

[1]See definition in Appendix A

[2]See Appendix C for list of building types

[3]See Definition in Appendix A

[4]Minutes of these focus group meetings are attached in Appendix G. 

[5]see example in Appendix F

[6]See definitions in Appendix A

[7]See job descriptions and salary range for two Chicago-area communities in Appendix I

[8]See Appendix E for further recommendations with regard to accessibility recognition programs.

[9]The State of Illinois publishes a list of companies who are owned or operated by individuals with disabilities.

[10]See list of Village buildings in Appendix B

[11]See Appendix F for Checklist example

[12]Attached in Appendix H is the curb-cut map for the Village.

[13]See Part 35 regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Justice to implement Title II of the ADA at paragraph 35.150.

[14]Ibid.  Paragraph 35.130(d).

[15]Ibid.  Paragraph 35.130(f).

[16]The definition of the term Areadily achievable@ can be found in Title III of the ADA, Section 301(9), and is as follows: AThe term >Readily Achievable= means easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty and expense.@

[17]The United States Conference of Mayors.  Implementing The Americans with Disabilities Act: Case Studies of Exemplary Programs.  Washington, D.C., 1995.

[18]The definition of the term Areadily achievable@ can be found in Title III of the ADA, Section 301(9), and is as follows: AThe term >Readily Achievable= means easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty and expense.@