Finkenauer Calls for Accessibility Improvements at Independence Post Office
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) sent a letter to the U.S. Access Board expressing her concern regarding accessibility issues at the Independence Post Office and urging the Board to assist in addressing the problem.
The post office, which is located at 200 2nd Avenue NE in Independence, Iowa, sits on a steep hill and a staircase is the only to get into the front entrance, making it difficult for those with disabilities or physical impairments to enter the building.
"Over the last year, my office has heard from dozens of residents in Independence and the surrounding community with concerns about the post office and the need for a ramp at the entrance," Finkenauer said in the letter. "The post office also sits on top of a steep hill, which makes the staircase the only way to access the front door. This is a serious hazard and last year, a local woman fell trying to enter the post office and had to be transported by ambulance. A ramp and possibly other safety measures are needed to prevent an incident like this from happening again."
Independence Mayor Bonita Davis said, “The accessibility of the post office is a major concern and one that I’ve worked on for years. People have been injured trying to access the post office using the steps. One can go to the back door and honk, but that is totally unacceptable. A post office in a town our size should be accessible. I am willing to work with them or help them become accessible.”
"It is a tragedy that in a thriving county seat community of 6,000 people, many of its residents are denied access to a fundamental need, which is the ability to enter the city’s United States Post Office as a result of it not being accessible," Robert E. Hill, At-Large City Council Member of Independence, said. " We are very happy to have Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer’s help in getting the United States Postal Service to be aware of our problem and develop a plan on how to make our post office accessible."
Three ABA accessibility complaints have been filed against the post office and the Congresswoman's office filed a formal complaint on behalf of her constituents.
The Access Board is an independent federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards. Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the Board is now a leading source of information on accessible design. The Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, transit vehicles, telecommunications equipment, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology. It also provides technical assistance and training on these requirements and on accessible design and continues to enforce accessibility standards that cover federally funded facilities.
The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Twelve of its members are representatives from most of the federal departments. Thirteen others are members of the public appointed by the President, a majority of whom must have a disability.