Olympia updates public on improvements for increased accessibility for ADA


At the Olympia City Council meeting Tuesday, October 3, Senior Planner Michelle Swanson updated the public on improving accessibility for people with disabilities.

Swanson presented the 2022 Report to the Community on the progress in implementing the recommendations of the city's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan.

The ADA is a federal civil rights law prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities in access to jobs, accommodations, government services and programs, transportation, and telecommunications. Enacted in 1990, the law applies to various services, programs, and infrastructures for which the city is responsible.

Swanson said that one of the requirements outlined in the ADA is that local governments must assess the barriers to access that fall under their purview and create a plan for removing those issues.

In compliance with the ADA, the city council adopted the ADA Transition Plan in May 2021.

"One of the recommendations of the transition plan was that the city track its progress on how it's doing with implementation. So that is the purpose of this report to the community," Swanson said, adding that the report covered May 2021 through the end of 2022.

At the Olympia Council meeting on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, senior planner Michelle Swanson highlighted some improvements in transportation, parks, and city-maintained buildings to be ADA accessible.
At the Olympia Council meeting on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, senior planner Michelle Swanson highlighted some improvements in transportation, parks, …

Swanson highlighted some accessibility upgrades in 2022:

Transportation program

  • 42 curb ramps were updated to current standards
  • Five traffic signals updated to have accessible pedestrian signals.
  • City maintenance crew fixed 27 sites of damaged sidewalks, most in downtown.

During her presentation, Swanson provided a photo that showed an upgraded traffic signal, two improved curb ramps, and one of the new sidewalks that were part of the Franklin Street project.


Swanson mentioned that the Parks department funded ADA improvement at $200,000 per year through the Capital Facilities Plan (CFP). Through this allocation, they were able to:

  • Remodel dugouts and improve pathways in the Yauger Park and Stevens Field
  • Remodel the upper restrooms in LBA Park
  • Add an accessible parking spot, entrance, and pathways to Evergreen Park
  • Replaced swings to include an adaptive swing at Yauger Park
  • Repair broken pavement on the Karen Fraser Wooden Trail
  • Install accessible picnic tables at six park shelters across Yauger, Squaxin, and LBA parks

Parking and city-maintained buildings

Swanson said they have assessed city-owned parking lot accessibility. The project started in 2022, and the final memo has been posted to the city's ADA Notice webpage.

She enumerated other upgrades to some city-maintained buildings, for example, the remodeling work to the Washington Center, where they created dedicated accessible spaces at the front of the venue.

They added handrails and lowered the concession stand countertops to be accessible to people in wheelchairs. A cable tunnel system was also created to prevent cables from being run up the aisleways.

In 2021, Swanson added, the city overhauled its website to be more accessible not only to people with disabilities but also to people who are not fluent in English. "Every page has an accessibility menu that allows people to contrast the font size, highlight links, change the text spacing, use dyslexia-friendly text, a reading guide, and many other features."

The city website also has a translate button that allows users to translate the content into 79 languages.

"The 2022 report is focused on the built environment. We plan to continue that work. We are already tracking the progress that we've made so far in 2023. Next year's report will also include some of the programmatic changes we are working on, such as providing staff with more guidance on making documents and meetings more accessible," Swanson told the councilmembers.


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