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NC disabled fight for rights on 20th anniversary of ADA

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RALEIGH- Monday marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act. While the disabled around the nation are celebrating advancements in equality and justice, one North Carolina Advocacy Group for the disabled is championing for the basic needs of it's clients.

Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC, said that most people will look at basic requirements, and think putting down a blue square with the universal mark of handicap accessibility makes them in compliance. When in reality, that is not all there is to the issue.

Smith said failing to provide the proper amount and type of handicap parking spaces at the very agency that regulates motor vehicle laws is a common problem around the state.

"The complaints might range from not having enough overall accessible parking or they don't have enough van accessible parking or the parking is located to far from the door to the building that is the accessible door. It's ironic that both a federal and state government agency would be out of compliance with federal and state law, " said Smith.

The Commissioner of the State Division of Motor Vehicles whose department regulates this sort of problem says that ADA compliance is more of a contract issue than a regulation problem.

"I questioned before about license plate contractors and some access about state and some access to state buildings quite frankly some of the buildings were not up to standard," said Mike Robertson, Commissioner NC DMV.

Commissioner Robertson's department launched an investigation into the problem six months ago but found that most DMV license plate agencies are located in privately owned shopping centers which the DMV only contracts with.

"If it's a new contract then we require the ADA compliance, we can't force any contractor to rebuild a building. We can strongly suggest when we put in the contract and we have done that," said Robertson.

Suggestions are simply not enough as the nation pauses on Monday to recommit to support the plight of the disabled.

"We'll it's time to stop looking and to start doing. Monday is 20th anniversary of the Americans with disabilities act they've had 20 years to look into compliance with the ADA," said Smith.

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