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Where the sidewalk ends: The state of municipal ADA transition planning for the public right-of-way in the Chicago region

2020 was the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA advances equal access for people with disabilities. One under-utilized component of the ADA is a requirement that units of government with more than 50 employees conduct an inventory of physical barriers to access in the public right-of-way, and make an ADA transition plan to remove them. Despite the federal requirement, transition plans are uncommon. And as a result, many barriers to access still exist. A national study of 401 government entities found that only 13% had transition plans readily available.

But how is the Chicago region doing? The Metropolitan Planning Council partnered with the Great Lakes ADA Center at the University of Illinois-Chicago to find out. In this report, we share the results from an inventory of the region’s 200 municipalities with more than 50 employees. At the time of our assessment in Spring 2020, only 22 municipalities (11%) were able to show that they had an ADA transition plan. We also assessed the quality of the region’s plans, and whether certain community characteristics such as size, median income, and race or ethnicity were related to plan status or quality.