Denis Pratt ADA Awards 

The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law 20 years ago today.In Bangor, the Maine ADA Coalition celebrated this milestone. Individuals and organizations were recognized at the Denis Pratt ADA Awards – held at the Gracie Theatre at Husson University – for going above and beyond to champion the rights of those with disabilities. Among the honorees was Jan DaVinney – She was recognized for her individual advocacy for the deaf community. “One of the things that I have been known for was the lawsuit against Maine Medical Center. The Department of Justice intervened and a consent decree was the settlement and it’s used as a policy nationwide for deaf access in hospital situations,” says DaVinney.Several organizations were honored, including the Bangor Police Department for their effort to enforce handicap parking laws in Bangor. They’re working closely with volunteers from Alpha One to ticket drivers violating those laws. The program has gained some national recognition.Sgt. Paul Edwards explains, “They think it’s a wonderful thing that we’ve done to make this happen with the help of Alpha One. It’s been mentioned nationwide, so maybe, ya know, they can look at that and change the way they do business and it really doesn’t take a whole lot to do that.”Dennis Fitzgibbons, Executive Director for Alpha One, is excited about the progress that’s been made in the past 20 years for Americans with disabilities, but says there’s still a lot of work to be done. “One of the big things that still needs to be done is, far far too many people with disabilities still are forced to live in nursing homes and other institutions where they don’t need to live. The second one, certainly there are many, is unemployment is sort of the final frontier for people with disabilities.”