ADA & Accessibility
The City of Northampton is committed to ensuring that every program, service, benefit, activity, and facility operated or funded by the City is fully accessible and usable by people with disabilities.The ADA/Section 504 Coordinator for the City is responsible for overseeing the implementation and local enforcement of the City's obligations under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding discrimination in housing. The Disability Commission is an important advisory board to the City regarding all aspects of accessibility and disability. They make recommendations to the City Council, Mayor, and the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator on policies and accessibility projects. The Disability Commission meets once a month on a Tuesday, typically on the second Tuesday. All residents are welcome to attend.
Any citizen needing a reasonable accommodation or modification to be able to participate and fully access a City program, event, or building should make a request in writing or verbally to the ADA/Section 504 Coordinator as soon as they are aware of the need. The ADA/Section 504 Coordinator will ensure that all requests are responded to in a timely fashion.
The Massachusetts Office on Disability (MOD) works to ensure that people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of life in Massachusetts. They have many great resources such as disability rights laws and regulations, architectural access information, vocational rehabilitation programs, and training available on their website. Their next event will be their annual Disability Summit on Thursday, October 29th 2020 at 9 a.m. This event is free and all advocates, leaders, and members of the disability community are encourage to attend. Register here.
MOD also offers grants to city's and towns to make their municipalities more accessible to people with disabilities. In 2017, the City received a $10,000 planning grant to conduct interviews and accessibility surveys of City buildings, policies, and programs as part of the it's ADA Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan.
City Accessibility Improvements
In the summer of 2020, the City had begun work creating much needed wheelchair curb cuts and installing tactile warnings that were identified in the 2018 study from Alta Planning + Design. The 2020 curb cuts were installed at the the Northampton Bikeway at the Keyes & Chestnut Street crossings in Florence, the intersection of South Main Street and Pine Street in Florence, the crossing at Northampton High School and Woodlawn Avenue, and at two sections of Center Street.
In October 2020, Mayor David J. Narkewicz accepted the update to the City's ADA & Self-Evaluation Plan and Section 504 Plan. This plan looked at the polices and infrastructure regarding disability access in the City, making 10 priority recommendations. A glossary of ADA terms may be helpful for people to familiarize themselves with accessibility and the ADA.
Tax Incentives for Employers and Businesses to Create Accessibility
There are tax credits and deductions available to businesses that employ persons with disabilities or to make accessibility improvements to their buildings. Americans with disabilities are contributing members of the workforce and valuable customers to any business. These tax credits and deductions offer additional incentives for meeting ADA obligations.
The Work Opportunity Credit is a tax credit through the IRS of up to 40% of the first $6,000 of first year wages of a new employee who is part of a targeted group, such as being a person with a disability.
The Disabled Access Credit is a non-refundable credit for small businesses that incur expenditures for the purpose of providing access to persons with disabilities.
The Barrier Removal Tax Deduction is a deduction of up to $15,000 per year for the removal of architectural and transportation barriers for individuals with disabilities and elders with mobility limitations.