An ADA Coordinator’s Story
Updated: May 27, 2021
Featuring Dolores Gonzalez
An ADA Coordinator plays a vital role in fulfilling the requirements of ADA across city infrastructure. Altura’s very own, Dolores Gonzalez, highlights her experience as a past ADA Coordinator for the City of Austin and the importance of appointing an ADA Coordinator as part of a city’s ADA Transition Plan process.
Since the requirements to have an ADA Transition Plan were signed into law in January 1992, there was little guidance on how to implement changes across city departments. Dolores helped establish a system to create an “ADA Task Force” for the City of Austin. The system designated someone in each department to oversee all ADA elements of their department. These Department ADA Coordinators helped with the self-evaluation process for the City to assess facilities, programs, services, and activities. Reports were then created to compile into the overall Transition Plan. Through community input, the City was able to prioritize what mattered most to the people who lived there.
Dolores supervised around 20 departments with specific responsibilities based on community needs. Her hard work helped the City put together a complete Transition Plan by the required deadline. She spent time meeting annually with Department ADA Coordinators gathering data from each one and assembling the City’s ADA Implementation Report. This report was widely distributed internally, including department directors, City Manager and staff, Mayor and City Council members, and externally to cross-disability organizations, community advocates, and other interested persons, to demonstrate not only progress of the ADA Transition Plan, but transparency in all areas of implementation.
Dolores held this ADA Coordinator position for the City of Austin for 25 years.
Dolores was invited to numerous conferences and panels to speak about implementing successful Transition Plans. At the time, there was no national certification for ADA Coordinators. Many cities were unfamiliar with how to even begin the Transition Plan process, so these conferences helped tremendously. Early on, a group called Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund received a grant to train ADA Coordinators. Dolores was personally selected for this week-long training for incoming ADA Coordinators and consultants. Since about 2013, new ADA Coordinators can go through a course sponsored by the University of Missouri, including a section on the role of the ADA Coordinator, which Dolores was asked to review. Upon completion, participants receive an ADA Certification. Back home, the City of Austin established an ADA Roundtable that eventually grew to become a program of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, incorporating ADA Coordinators throughout the city and beyond. This created opportunities to share knowledge and be transparent about ADA implementation, including successful ADA Transition Plans, tailored to each entity's specific needs.
Community engagement was a huge focus in training ADA Coordinators and implementing the ADA including Transition Plans. Dolores understands that ADA Coordinators need to be familiar and comfortable with their new roles to benefit their community. She understands that “if a city wants to spend ‘X’ amount of money on ADA implementation why not spend it the way the people who live in the community want?” Dolores cannot stress enough the importance of involving people with disabilities in the decision-making process.
Dolores’ role as one of the first ADA Coordinators helped to pave the way Transition Plans are implemented within an organization. In fact, Dolores was designated as an “ADA Trailblazer” on the 25th
ADA Coordinators are important in overseeing ADA compliance and can act as a spokesperson for change within a city based on its needs. We are fortunate to have Dolores on Altura’s team and to work with her throughout each of our Transition Plans!
If you are interested in learning more about ADA Coordinators or
ADA Transition Plans, please call us at (512) 410-7059