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February 8, 2013
For Immediate Release: Feb. 8 Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 621-5009
AUGUSTA—More than 100 businesses, architects, engineers and code enforcement officials attended a day-long workshop to learn about technical details and updates of the design and construction standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Maine Human Rights Act.
The workshop, held Jan. 17, helped attendees navigate the compliance process. Eric Dibner, state ADA coordinator with the Maine Department of Labor, introduced the session, “With various layers of permitting, local and state agencies can improve the effectiveness of the process by learning from each other. This forum presents material which is often daunting to the people who must use it. The details are essential to understand so people with disabilities are able to find accessible employment and enjoy public places.”
Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette described the importance of the forum, “Part of the responsibility of the labor department is to assist people with disabilities in finding meaningful employment through vocational rehabilitation or self-employment. Anything we can do to assist businesses in hiring talent and increasing awareness of the benefits of employing people with disabilities supports this effort.”
“The LePage administration is committed to connecting every Mainer to a good job with good wages,” she added.
The session included such speakers as John Gause of the Maine Human Rights Commission, who explained how the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design apply under Maine Law. Ron Peaslee from the State Fire Marshal (SFM) Office discussed how his agency reviews plans for public accommodations, both public and private, to ensure they are barrier-free. Local municipalities must ensure that the SFM review has been completed, when required, before allowing construction and alterations.
The lead presenter, Kathy Gips, a trainer from the New England ADA Center, also gave a popular workshop here a year ago. She has worked with Maine to develop cooperative ways to inform the public about responsibilities for compliance. The workshop also included Paul Demers of the Maine Building Officials and Inspectors Association and Jill Simpson Johanning, AIA, from Access Design/Alpha One.
The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services of the Maine Department of Labor provides a variety of services to help people with severe disabilities get or keep a job. These services include job development and placement, job training and rehabilitation technology.
Individuals with disabilities bring strength and diversity to Maine’s workforce. Employers interested in hiring people with disabilities or individuals with a disability interested in learning about vocational rehabilitation should contact visit the Employment for Maine website, http://www.EmploymentforME.org , or call the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services at (207) 623-6799 (TTY users call Maine Relay 711).
Education makes compliance easier for businesses