Wednesday, September 19, 2012

County reaches out to Latinos, disabled

Plan helps meet requirements for federal grants

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County commissioners indicated last week that money for bridge repairs and font size on the county website are connected.

Following the leadership of county Human Resources Coordinator Susan Potucek, the commission on Sept. 11 passed two resolutions to strengthen the county’s ability to serve citizens with disabilities and those for whom English is a challenge.

The move, tied to both the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act, will also help the county check off requirements when applying for federal road and bridge construction dollars. Federal grant applications for road and bridge projects require counties to demonstrate their commitment to the two acts. 

The resolutions reaffirm and refine the county’s commitment to improve ADA infrastructure and language assistance wherever barriers are discovered, whether it be on a county-owned dock at Magic Reservoir or at a public hearing. The language requirement is raised anywhere that a portion of the population speaking a particular foreign language reaches 5 percent. According to the 2010 Census, Blaine County’s Spanish-speaking population is 20 percent.

As part of the coming list of improvements, the county’s website is to be changed so font size can be adjusted to ease legibility, Potucek said.

“We did have some barriers,” she said. “We had a plan that was inadequate. … The plans before us make up for those inadequacies.”

The resolutions are a limited-English-proficiency plan and an ADA self-evaluation and transition plan. The plans recognize the county’s commitment to remove accessibility barriers to any county function in any way that a person might be limited.

As an example of a recent fix, in a process that Potucek characterized as fluid and ongoing, is that Braille letters have been added to restroom signs in the new county annex building in Hailey. Another example is that the county can call interpreters to help in any number of languages. Also, she said, deaf people who participate in any aspect of the public process should be accommodated with sign language interpreters. 

Potucek said that as a result of the commissioners’ actions, the county will be up to speed when it comes to submitting applications for federal grants.

“We want to be sure we’re not discriminating,” she said.

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