Accessible America Awards: Call for Entries

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N.O.D.is calling on America’s mayors and chief elected officials to enter their communities in the sixth annual Accessible America awards competition, open to all U.S. cities and towns. Entries must be postmarked no later than October 31, 2006.

Thanks to sponsors UPS and Wal-Mart, communities will compete for $35,000 in cash prizes. Entrants will showcase how their citizens with disabilities are participating in and contributing to local community life. Cambridge, MA, West Hollywood, CA and Austin, TX were the 2005 winners, surpassing dozens of outstanding entries from diverse communities nationwide.

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 21, 2006—The National Organization on Disability (N.O.D.) is calling on America’s mayors and chief elected officials to enter their communities in the sixth annual Accessible America awards competition, open to all U.S. cities and towns. Thanks to sponsors UPS (United Parcel Service) and Wal-Mart, communities will compete for $35,000 in cash prizes. Entrants will showcase how their citizens with disabilities are participating in and contributing to local community life. Cambridge, MA, West Hollywood, CA and Austin, TX were the 2005 winners, surpassing dozens of outstanding entries from diverse communities nationwide.

The winning cities or towns designated in the Accessible America 2006 competition will be places where citizens with disabilities have opportunities for full and equal participation in the life of their community, including access to education, jobs, voting, transportation, housing, religious worship, and a full range of social, recreational, cultural, and sports activities. Another area that N.O.D. is giving special focus to is emergency preparedness for people with disabilities. The competition highlights community-wide progress and inspires replication of best practices programs and ideas.

To enter the competition, communities will submit an official Accessible America application signed by their mayor or chief elected official describing how their city or town (or county representing unincorporated communities within its borders) provides opportunities for citizens with disabilities to participate fully in community life. Entries must be postmarked no later than October 31, 2006.

“People who have disabilities are part of every community, and deserve to feel not only welcomed but also safe in our cities and towns,” said N.O.D. president Michael R. Deland. “As the American dream becomes realistic for everyone, including those of us with disabilities, the country as a whole will benefit,” he continued.

“Accessible America communities are committed to opportunities that encourage people with disabilities to participate and contribute just like everyone else,” said Nancy Starnes, N.O.D. Vice President. “Best practices ideas from Accessible America winners are the result of a clear message sent by local leaders that people with disabilities are influential members of their city or town,” she added. Ms. Starnes is a wheelchair user and former mayor of Sparta, N.J.

The 2004 N.O.D./Harris Survey of Americans with Disabilities identified ten key gap areas where people with disabilities were documented to be at a significant disadvantage in comparison to other Americans. One of the gap areas is community involvement, and others, including employment, education, access to housing and transportation, and involvement in religious and political life, also directly reflect whether people are receiving the welcome and support they need in their communities.

To learn more about the Accessible America 2006 competition – as well as the numerous benefits N.O.D.’s Community Partnership Program offers to member communities – visit N.O.D.’s web site, www.nod.org, or call Ms. Starnes at 202/293-5960. Membership in the Community Partnership Program is not a prerequisite for entering the Accessible America competition.

The National Organization on Disability promotes the full and equal participation and contribution of America’s 54 million men, women and children with disabilities in all aspects of life. For more information about N.O.D.’s programs, visit www.nod.org.

More information here.

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