City of Detroit Unveils First-Ever Strategic Plan to Significantly Improve Access and Service to Disability Community

City of Detroit Unveils First-Ever Strategic Plan to Significantly Improve Access and Service to Disability Community

  • Three-Year Plan Focuses on Housing, Employment, Transportation, Digital Access
  • Announcement to Coincide with City’s Celebration of 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

On this day in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, guaranteeing rights and greater access for citizens with disabilities.  Thirty-one years later, the City of Detroit is marking the day by issuing its first-ever strategic plan to further improve access in the city.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is the landmark legislation that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including in employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and telecommunications. 

Mayor Duggan made accessibility one of his top priorities with the creation of the Office of Disability Affairs within the Department of Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity in late 2020 and the hiring of Christopher Samp as its director. 

“In Detroit, we recognize the challenges members of our disabled community face when trying to access information, city services or opportunities,” said Mayor Duggan.  “Detroiters should be proud of the fact their city now has an office dedicated to addressing these needs and the creation of this three year plan is a huge step forward.” 

Today, the Mayor and Samp, along with Director of Civil Rights, Inclusion & Opportunity Kim Rustem and members of the disabled community, outlined the new three-year plan, key elements of which include:   

  • Increasing housing availability
  • Improving healthcare and transportation access
  • Increasing hiring, and implementing policies and practices throughout City government and the community
  • Improving access to digital content.

Prior to the launch of the Office of Disability Affairs, the Civil Rights, Inclusion, and Opportunity Department (CRIO) solicited feedback from the disability community on challenges they face in Detroit. The development of the three-year strategic plan included input from a wide range of individuals, groups, and organizations.

“At the Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department we work every day to make sure that all Detroiter's rights are protected, voices are heard, and opportunities are accessible,” said director Kim Rustem. “But we know real change comes when everyone is working together toward a better future. I am so proud to see the leadership of every department joining us as partners in this effort to improve accessibility in our City.”

“As a Deaf member of our disability community, we all deserve equal rights and to be able to reach our full potential,” Samp said. “I will use this opportunity to ensure that we will be doing everything we can to influence policy changes toward universal participation and increasing accessibility and look forward to working with our community partners and disability advocates to transform Detroit into a more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible city.”

The strategic plan is a three-year commitment to improving accessibility in Detroit implemented in three phases.

Phase 1 – Capacity Building: In 2021, the City will define the role of the Office of Disability Affairs, obtain resources for its general operations and programs, and increase public engagement and community partnerships.  Under phase one, ODA will:

  • Increase public engagement and community partnerships
  • Establish a departmental disability affairs liaison policy
  • Develop general operations and office procedures and increase funding for programs and operations
  • Improve accommodations and reduce ADA-related complaints and develop an ADA self-evaluation & transition plan

Phase 2 – City Impact Year: In 2022, the Office of Disability Affairs will work with City departments to increase accessibility and opportunities for the disability community, and impact policy and procedures.  Under phase two, ODA will:

  • Evaluate office performance and improve disability awareness through training of City employees
  • Improve sidewalk conditions and public transportation and increase accessible parking
  • Increase the City’s hiring of those in the disability community
  • Increase disability awareness of the City’s Emergency Preparedness Plan
  • Improve access to accessible housing and digital content (such as American Sign Language and captioning)

Phase 3 – Community Impact Year: In 2023, the Office of Disability Affairs will work with community partners to further develop Detroit into a more welcoming, inclusive, and accessible city. During this phase, ODA will:

  • Evaluate office performance of community partners
  • Improve law enforcement and emergency responders’ interaction with people with disabilities
  • Increase the disability employment rate in Detroit
  • Improve equitable access to health care

“I’d like to thank the Mayor, the Office of Disability Affairs, and the Civil Rights, Inclusion and Opportunity Department for this significant strategic plan. We look forward to the plan’s implementation and to the delivery of a more fair, just, inclusive, and accessible city,” said Dessa Cosma, Executive Director of Detroit Disability Power.

To read the entire strategic plan, visit www.detroitmi.gov/disability. For more information, contact the Civil Rights Inclusion and Opportunity Department Office of Disability Affairs at 313-224-4950.