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Scott Spears, the assistant general counsel of the Ada County Highway District, learned something important at a recent Americans with Disabilities Act symposium he attended in Dallas: When it comes to accessibility, there needs to be “more than a guy in maintenance” at the helm.
ACHD commissioners agreed: They moved during a meeting Wednesday to begin the process to hire a new full-time employee to act as an accessibility coordinator.
The purpose of the role would be to ensure that ACHD is compliant with the standards of the ADA and other accessibility regulations. The new coordinator would also be the point of contact for receiving and investigating any complaints.
ACHD already has someone doing that job, Spears said, but the person splits their time between that role and other duties. The new position would be solely focused on accessibility.
Commission President Rebecca Arnold expressed that she wouldn’t be comfortable approving a new full-time employee without first seeing a job description. For that reason, the posting won’t be made public before the commission approves it.
The highway district said it has a drafted description prepared, but officials there are waiting to get language from a similar job posting in Minnesota before bringing it forward.
Spears said it is crucial to have someone who understands federal regulations for accessibility as well as the ADA. The best person to fill that role would be a “specialized engineer,” said Bruce Wong, director of ACHD.
Commissioner Jim Hansen said he wanted to encourage people with disabilities to apply because oftentimes, able-bodied people don’t see barriers in the same way that people with disabilities do.
“To people with disabilities, such jobs aren’t just a matter of government regulation,” Hansen told the Statesman in an interview after the commission’s meeting Wednesday. “It’s their lives.”
Wong told the commission that the pay scale for the position would be between $58,500 and $72,000, with an overall cap including all benefits of about $103,000.