advocate, protector, guide, researcher, test pilot
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) recently celebrated its 25th anniversary on July 26. Robert Gorski has worked to ensure that the intent of this legislation is implemented since its inception. He was hired just prior to the passage of the ADA by the City of Pasadena to be its first accessibility coordinator in 1989 and has served in that position ever since.
While Pasadena was becoming one of the more accessible cities in the country, the City was recognized in 2005 by the National Council on Disability for its accomplishments. Robert’s vision for developing better access for persons with disabilities has benefitted all of us through the implementation of curb ramps, accessible parking spaces, improved crosswalk controls, assistive listening systems, equal opportunity for employment, and many other advances that also work to improve our society’s attitude towards persons with disabilities.
Pasadena is extremely fortunate to have a person of his commitment and ability in this position.
Here are a few of his ideas for furthering the work of the ADA:
What recent accomplishments are you most proud of and why?
Near completion of the 2010-2015 transition plan for addressing access issues in City facilities.
Installing 3 more Assistive Listening System in City facilities and having funds approved for 3 more Systems at Villa Parke Center.
Year-long-worth of generally small-scale activities that celebrate ADA25 and educate the community about the ADA, ranging from carrying an ADA25 banner in the Black History Parade to addressing 1,500 at a Levitt Pavilion music concert.
The largest activity was repleatedly displaying the ADA25 emblem on the Rose Bowl’s video boards before a concert attended by over 50,000.
What are you doing in your work that is different from 10 years ago?
Less time and energy on architectural barriers in City facilities
More time and energy devoted to insuring programs and services are accessible.
What is the state of persons with disabilities and how is this different from the past?
Employment is one area where little if any progress has been made.
Funding for community programs and government benefits programs that support independent living is considerable less nowadays.
People with disabilities have more personal freedom and greater ability to go where they want and participate in the life of their communities.
What else can be done to better serve persons with disabilities?
The human services community and governments at all levels must start planning for an increasing senior population that will be increasingly disabled, with impaired hearing being a very common disability.
A new service is needed to help people with disabilities with the physical effort of searching for accessible and affordable housing. Many people with disabilities lack the energy and personal transportation for effective searching. For those that do, searching is often an arduous task.
What would you like to accomplish prior to retirement?
Putting together a 2016-2020 Compliance Plan (successor to the about to be completed 5-year transition plan) that will address issues missed in the transition plan and new requirements, for example, for accessible curbside parking and accessible pedestrian crosswalk signals.
Conduct a round of small-group training seminars for City staff on accessible meetings and public events.
Looking back is there anything you would have done differently? If so, please describe why and how you would change that effort?
Volunteered to do an accessibility assessment of the entire Rose Parade that might have prevented a recent costly accessibility complaint.
Advocated harder in 1991 that a re-landscaping project for Central Library should include an accessible entrance to the building’s Walnut Street entrance.