Nearly 200 local and regional leaders, service providers and industry stakeholders descended upon Old Dominion University’s Webb Center March 9, 2017, for the Hampton Roads Disabilities Board’s Abled, Not Disabled: 2017 Regional Conference on Persons with Disabilities. The Conference provided attendees a forum in which to share best practices, discuss and promote continued advocacy and how best to support persons with disabilities in the Hampton Roads region.
Following a welcome from the city of Norfolk and Senator Mark Warner’s office, the day’s program kicked-off with an opening address from Marian Vessels. Marian recently retired as Director of the Mid-Atlantic ADA Center, one of ten regional Centers comprising the ADA National Network across the United States. The Centers provide information, guidance and training on how to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Ms. Vessels, drawing on her knowledge of the ADA and her own personal experience, spoke to the attendees about “Providing World Class Customer Service to Customers and Clients with Disabilities.” The address included information about the ADA, how businesses and employees can ensure they are complying with the Act, and reminders for all to treat people with disabilities as people.
The opening address provided the attendees the perfect launch into the day’s multi-tracked sessions. Among the sessions and workshops the attendees were able to choose from: ADA and Employment, Creating an ADA Compliant Agency, Accessible Housing, and Understanding Social Security Benefits. Attendees also were able to hear from Norfolk Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team regarding their activities and procedures when they are called into action. Additionally, one of the day’s final sessions was a lively discussion regarding Transportation Options in Hampton Roads for persons with disabilities.
“This was the first regional conference of its kind to bring together such a wide array of practitioners and advocates in Hampton Roads. Based on the feedback from attendees, we hope to have this level of training again in the future”, said Shernita Bethea, Housing & Human Services Administrator for the HRPDC.
The HRDB is grateful for the support of the sponsors who made the Abled, Not Disabled Conference possible: