Hingham’s ADA self-assessment, transition plan aim to make town more accessible for all

Left to right: Tom Mayo, Town Administrator; J. R. Frey, Town Engineer; Diane DeNapoli, Commission on Disabilities; Stephanie Gertz, Commission on Disabilities; Lynn Barclay, Executive Director, Hingham Downtown Association; Matt Cahill, Assistant Superintendent, DPW; Art Robert, Assistant Town Administrator/Operations; Picture by Breanna Weiss. Photo from August 2022.

November 20, 2023 By Carol Britton Meyer

Hingham’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Self-Assessment and Transition Plan are geared toward creating a more inclusive community.

Under Title II of the ADA, the town was required to complete a self-evaluation of its public facilities, programs, services, activities, and events to determine compliance with the ADA and to identify any barriers to accessibility.

Once the self-evaluation was completed, a transition plan was created to prioritize the identified barriers and how they will be corrected.

“The ADA Assessment is a critical first step in making our town more accessible for all,” Select Board Chair Liz Klein told the Hingham Anchor.

The ADA prohibits state and local entities from discriminating against those with disabilities in their programs, services, and activities,” Asst. Town Administrator for Operations Art Robert explained to the Select Board recently.

To assist with the self-assessment and transition plan, the Institute for Human Centered Design based in Boston was hired to prepare assessments on town policies and procedures for 10 town buildings and facilities, 5 school buildings, 16 outdoor facilities — including parks and playgrounds — and 1.7 miles of sidewalks, including Hingham Square. The work was funded by a grant.

The Institute also created a transition plan of corrective actions as needed.

“This provides a prioritized list of deficiencies to correct and a tool to track fixes,” Klein explained.

As part of implementing the transition plan, the town website was updated with CivicPlus — a program geared toward transforming the way municipalities operate and interact with their residents —  and Town Meeting now features dedicated seating for those with disabilities, a large-format warrant article booklet, and a live projected transcription.

ADA issues will also be considered as they relate to the new public safety facility, the new elementary school, and the Cronin Field playground.

Klein had high praises for the process. “The Select Board is grateful for the extensive work done by Assistant Town Administrator/ADA Officer Art Robert, former Commission on Disabilities Chair Diane DeNapoli, CoD Chair Stephanie Gertz, and the entire CoD,” who all assisted with the process,” she said. “The ADA Assessment is a critical first step in making our town more accessible for all, and we look forward to supporting the team along the way as we implement the transition plan.”

Citizens had an opportunity to participate in a related survey, and the CoD held a public hearing on the process in late September as an opportunity for residents to ask questions and provide feedback.

Next steps include sharing the assessment and transition plan with the Massachusetts Office on Disability and asking the CoD to research potential grants to assist with implementing accessibility improvements.

For full details, go to https://www.hingham-ma.gov/1028/ADA-Self-Evaluation-and-Transition-Plan.

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