The City Council opened its vision for Bellevue with the statement “Bellevue welcomes the world. Our diversity is our strength.” Diversity is defined broadly here, including people with differing abilities as well as races, beliefs and sexual orientations. Our appreciation for people of all abilities is part of what makes Bellevue such a great place to live, work, and play.
Expanding inclusion to people with disabilities happens both internally and throughout the community. Internally, city staff are creating and participating in programming specific to education, advocacy and an interdepartmental commitment to accessibility. Externally, the city’s commitment to encouraging disability inclusion and engagement can be seen through our growing partnerships with local and regional disability advocacy groups, and our efforts to better understand and meet the needs of those with disabilities. Below are just some of the ways in which Bellevue is creating more equitable access to resources and services in our community. Through the council’s vision and the Diversity Advantage initiative, the city will become a more equitable place for all.
Blayne Amson, ADA/Title VI Civil Rights Administrator
To ensure access and equity for residents and visitors of Bellevue with disabilities, as well as to promote inclusion for all residents, Blayne Amson is ADA/Title VI Civil Rights administrator.
Blayne has worked in nonprofit and higher education for over 12 years, focusing on issues related to disability awareness, inclusion and capacity-building. He has developed and facilitated comprehensive trainings that spurred organizational change through the adoption of anti-ableist ideologies and a commitment to disability justice.
ADA and Title VI
The city's Accessibility page offers more information about the city's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
The ADA Anniversary page provides an overview of how departments across the City of Bellevue are building accessibility into their services, facilities and programs.
Hearing Assistance Devices
Bellevue has installed state-of-the-art hearing loop systems in City Hall in the City Council Chambers and the Council Study Room. At Bellevue Youth Theatre, hearing loops have been installed at the stage as well as the box office. At North Bellevue Community Center, a hearing loop has been installed in the Banquet Room. In addition, Bellevue Botanical Garden, Highland Community Center, Crossroads Community Center and South Bellevue Community Center have all been surveyed and it was determined feasible to install hearing assistance devices at these locations as well. These projects are projected to be completed in 2020.
These systems enable people with hearing aids or cochlear implants to connect directly to the sound system with much better sound quality and amplification. People without a hearing aid can use receivers and headsets to benefit as well.
Power Wheelchair and Mobility Scooter Charging Stations
In 2019, the City of Bellevue installed power wheelchair charging stations in key locations throughout the community. The charging stations are specifically designed to connect to the charging ports on power wheelchairs and mobility scooters, giving users the ability to access nearby power if they are in the city and find their batteries running low. The connections are also intended to serve as a critical power resource during disaster events or widespread power outages.
Currently, the charging stations are available in Bellevue City Hall, Crossroads Community Center, Highland Community Center, North Bellevue Community Center, South Bellevue Community Center and Northwest Arts Center. Many of these locations are close to transit service and are known gathering centers for the community. Since Community Centers will be natural places for the public to go during an emergency or disaster, locating the charging stations there provides public access for any situation. Community Centers are equipped with generators and will be able to provide energy stability even during a power outage.
Shelter in Place Guidance
Prior to a disaster occurring, everyone must think ahead and have a plan. This is especially true for those with disabilities. Those with access and functional needs may require additional response assistance before, during, and after an incident.
For acute emergencies such as fires, evacuation may be an option with assistance from others or in locations without stairs for wheelchair users. In some cases, sheltering in place is the best option for someone who is not able to safely evacuate.
Sheltering in place means that you go to an identified, designated area of rescue assistance, call 9-1-1 to report your location and wait for emergency rescue personnel to arrive. It is critical to have a personal preparedness plan and supplies, should you need to shelter in place or evacuate.
The City of Bellevue created a helpful poster to help someone plan to shelter in place. There are also other helpful resources on sheltering in place and planning for disaster from FEMA and the Washington State Department of Health.
Universal Design is a concept through which spaces and programming are intentionally created to be naturally accessible to all people, without the need for individual modification or accommodation. The City of Bellevue has created a helpful Universal Design booklet with accessibility best practices for anyone planning events, training or meetings to help them create an environment and event that is welcoming to all people.
Embracing the principles of universal design creates an inviting space where all bodies and minds are considered and valued. Examples of a universally designed space include: wide aisles for all people and mobility modes to access all areas of the room; meeting materials provided in hard copy and digital formats, along with large print versions; food and dietary needs established and accommodated ahead of time; visually accessible meeting materials for color, font type and size.
Universal Design promotes inclusion in ways that effectively develop community support and encourage attitudinal changes to reflect dignity, self-respect, and involvement within the community.