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NOD announces Accessible America Award for 2007

Feb 14, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          
Contact:                                                                
Nancy Starnes                                          
202/293-5960                                           
Starnes@nod.org                                
                                                                                

NATIONAL ORGANIZATION ON DISABILITY ANNOUNCES TOP CITY IN DISABILITY FRIENDLINESS, OUTREACH

Houston, TX to receive $25,000 Accessible America Award for 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 14, 2008-Houston, Texas has been chosen as the winner in the seventh annual Accessible America Contest, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) announced today. The city is being heralded as a national model for its focus on disability issues and successful design of programs, services and facilities that are accessible for citizens and visitors who have disabilities. The Accessible America Contest, administered by NOD’s Community Partnership Program, is sponsored by generous grants from UPS, AARP and the Chrysler Foundation.

Other 2007 contest finalists were: Alexandria, VA; Bloomington, IN; Columbus, GA; Hattiesburg, MS; Indianapolis, IN; Miami-Dade County, FL; New Haven, CT; and Sioux Falls, SD.

Governor Tom Ridge, Chairman of the National Organization on Disability, and former Secretary of Homeland Security noted, "The work of the communities participating in the Accessible America Award competition serves as an important reminder that people with disabilities are not passive consumers of help, but can contribute meaningfully to America's communities.  The City of Houston exemplifies a community that has enriched its civic life by the full participation of citizens with disabilities."

Houston is being recognized for their exemplary efforts, which include: the Parks Advisory Review Committee, which works ensure that people with disabilities have access to parks and recreational opportunities; the ADA Taxicab Committee, working to ensure the accessibility of taxis and for-hire transportation; an inclusive process to install pedestrian traffic signals; the Persons with Disabilities Business Enterprise Program, promoting entrepreneurship among people with disabilities; the Business Partnership Breakfast, to promote the business case for employing people with disabilities in city businesses; a comprehensive emergency management plan for citizens with disabilities, and a strong, coordinated effort to ensure access to parking for people with disabilities.

The award money will be presented at a forthcoming ceremony to Mayor Bill White of Houston and is intended to fund local disability-related efforts.

"Houston is a great city of opportunity and that means opportunity for everyone, including our disability community," said Mayor Bill White. "We work hard every day to make sure it stays that way and we are honored that the National Organization on Disability has recognized it."

Previous Accessible America first-place winners include: Berkeley, CA, Cambridge, MA, Venice, FL; Irvine, CA; Phoenix, AZ and Pasadena, CA.

The five leading national disability advocates and experts who served as Accessible America Contest judges chose the winners based on comprehensive accessibility and opportunity for people with disabilities. Accessible America applicants demonstrate an exceptional commitment to offering their citizens with disabilities full and equal opportunities to participate in the life of their community, including access to jobs, education, religious worship, voting, transportation, housing, emergency preparedness planning, and services. The Accessible America Contest promotes nationwide replication of these best practices.

For information about entering the Accessible America Competition, contact Mr. Rik Opstelten at 202/293-5960.

The National Organization on Disability, founded in 1982, 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 NOD’s programs, including how communities can join the Community Partnership Program, visit www.nod.org.

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