GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Commissioners met with officials from the Gallia Board of Elections Thursday to discuss measures taken to accommodate individuals with handicaps, making voter site locations accessible.
“In the mid-2000s, for (his understanding) there was a big push to get all the voting locations ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) accessible,” said Gallia Board of Elections Director Dale Whitt. “Parking facilities also had to be accessible. In that time frame, we were awarded grant money over a couple years to make those changes and buy equipment that was needed. At the same time, we don’t have the ability to walk in to a building and say they have to (make changes) for our one or two days we need the building a year.”
Whitt used the example that if a door had a threshold with a one inch tall obstacle over a threshold, it was difficult to maneuver a wheelchair over. The board has then bought mats which allow for better wheelchair access to navigate the obstacle. The mats fit over the threshold.
“On Nov. 7 (the coming election date), it’s our baby,” said Whitt. “So the (fixes) are all temporary. We can’t do any (modifications) before of after that.”
As an example, Whitt used before the commissioners the example of a fire extinguisher sitting chest high and placing a cone near it for individuals to feel with a walking stick should they have visual impairments.
Whitt said an ADA coordinator had recently sent a letter with concerns about various voting sites to the county. The coordinator was not at various precinct voting locations on election day but wanted to make note of potentially problematic points. Whitt updated commissioners to make certain they were aware the board had received the letter and had already addressed the concerns of the coordinator.
“You or I might take a quick look at something and think it’s easy to walk into,” said Whitt. “Some of these places you really need to (put yourself in another’s shoes) and think about potential problems with getting into a location. That’s why you see entrances with bars instead of door knobs. It’s easier to push open than to twist a door knob.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.