407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director
NJLM - Exceeding Expectations for People with Disabilities

Michael L. Broderick
Michael L. Broderick
Mayor, Jackson Township

Kathleen Patrick
Kathleen Patrick
Member, Jackson Township
Commission for the Disabled/Handicapped

Jackson Township
Exceeding Expectations
for People with Disabilities

When Fran and Michael Mazzi thought about relocating their family, they needed to

See caption below
Specialized swings allow all children to enjoy Jackson's Special Needs Park.

consider supports and opportunities for their 12-year-old daughter with Down syndrome.  Their research led them to a town in Ocean County that had a reputation for providing quality special education.  They were doubly impressed to learn of a group, appointed by the governing body, to help meet Dawn’s needs and welcome her into the community.  That town was Jackson.

“We were impressed that the Jackson Commission for the Disabled/Handicapped, the only one of its kind in the area at that time, was there to provide us with additional supports. It was the best way to go for our daughter,” says Fran Mazzi.  “We’ve enjoyed Commission-sponsored trips to places like amusement parks, boat rides and shows.  We participate in every holiday party.  Most importantly, our entire family felt the level of support and inclusion that we had hoped for.  Dawn is challenged through her participation in Commission activities.  She sees what others are doing and realizes that she could do that, too.  And then she does it.”


As of the 2000 Census and supplementary surveys
15.6 percent of the population has disabilities.


Twenty years later as the fastest growing community in New Jersey, Jackson remains committed to ensuring that everyone feels welcomed.  

The Jackson Township Commission for the Disabled/Handicapped, formed over 30 years ago, has as its mission, to: identify and assist people with disabilities in the community; manage operations of the accessible van serving Commission clients; serve as an advisory body to the Jackson Township Committee; and seek funding for its programs.   Commission members and staff facilitate networks among service providers to meet the needs of community members with disabilities.  The Commission also provides recreational activities for those registered with it.

A Place for Everyone A recent noteworthy result of the Commission’s efforts has been the development of the Jackson Special Needs Park.  Two years in planning, the park’s dedication in July 2004 allowed children with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy a park experience alongside their siblings and friends without disabilities.  Funded by private donations, corporate sponsors and the township, the Commission’s chairperson at the time, Vinny Rubio, insisted, “It can’t look like a special park.  It needs to blend into the environment, exceed accessibility standards, and provide good safety features.  The community was really positive about it from the beginning.”

20 Years of Change The organization has witnessed first hand the changes in attitudes toward people with disabilities.  Important legislation during those times include the passage in 1975 of Public Law 94-142, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act now codified as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and in 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which was basically civil rights legislation for people with disabilities.  Although some community members have been resistant toward including people with disabilities, their legal rights prevail. 

See caption below.
Fenceposts highlight community contributions.

Gerard Redmond, a long-time Commission member, reflects on the changes.  “It’s been easier since the passage of the ADA to get community support.  More people are aware of the rights of people with disabilities.  The governance is more aware of their responsibilities to protecting the rights and ensuring the inclusion of people with disabilities.”  Emilia Harrison, a member of the Commission for over 20 years, agrees, “The Commission is making a lot of progress now.  Younger people are involved who are more attuned to the different kinds of supports from which people with disabilities might benefit.”

 

 

 

Ways to Do More for Community Members with Disabilities
  • Invite members of the disabled community to analyze accessibility.

Invite members of the disability community to review the accessibility of municipal programs.  In that review, list all municipal facilities, programs and events, including recreation, holiday, and celebratory events. Also include different types of disabilities (not just physical ones), and brainstorm possible accommodations. 

  • Communicate your goals to include everyone

Inform the community that the event is inclusive in advertising, flyers, posters and mailings.  If registration is involved, ask if accommodations are needed and be responsive to those requests.  If registration is not involved, invite requests for accommodations in the announcements.   Designate someone to handle those requests.

  • Assemble an advisory team.

Assemble a group of interested people to provide ongoing perspective and input on disability issues.  Include individuals with disabilities, family members, or other advocates with an expertise that contributes toward the goal.  Such groups can sponsor educational forums, conduct outreach to identify the needs of community members with disabilities, and serve in an advisory role to the governing body.  Direct new community members with disabilities to the group for an orientation on available local supports.   .

  • Conduct outreach.

Ask people with disabilities what they want.  Hold a community forum to solicit input.   Ask about experiences in other communities and ways to meet needs.

  • Ask for help.

Involve community service groups, adult and school age, to support programs for people with disabilities by developing resources for a project, handling communications, or assisting people who need it.

  • Expand the accessibility of communications.

Once you have listed programs and events, consider all the ways in which citizens receive information about your municipality.  The Internet may be your primary source.  Have your municipality website Bobby approved.   Bobby is a web-based tool that analyzes web pages for their accessibility to people with disabilities. The Center for Applied Special Technology offers Bobby as a free public service.

  • Show respect.

While this may be understood, it cannot be overemphasized.  People with disabilities are people first who want to access the same opportunities and information as other citizens. 

  • Hold a service fair.

Assemble all of the community service organizations at least annually at your annual community day, your community center, within your local retail center or another central location.  Invite other affiliated agencies and organizations.  Citizens benefit from the opportunity to learn about local resources. 

  • Develop a voluntary registry for people with disabilities for emergency response.

Although the utility companies maintain and share a voluntary list of those affected by utility outages, individuals with other types of handicapping conditions could be seriously affected by an emergency.   Seeking permission to share the information with local emergency responders improves community safety.
            Although Jackson does not currently employ all of these strategies, we are committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have the opportunities to provide input into Jackson’s future. 
           

Michael L. Broderick is the Mayor of Jackson, population 50,000 in Ocean County.
Kathleen Patrick is a member of the Jackson Commission for the Disabled/Handicapped and the Jackson Special Education Advisory Council, vice-president of Easter Seals NPO Advantage, and a parent of a son with a disability.

 

 


Article in December 2005, New Jersey Municipalities


407 West State Street, Trenton, NJ 08618  (609)695-3481
 NJLM logo 

William G. Dressel Jr, Executive Director - Michael J. Darcey, CAE, Asst Executive Director

Michael L. Broderick
Michael L. Broderick
Mayor, Jackson Township

Kathleen Patrick
Kathleen Patrick
Member, Jackson Township
Commission for the Disabled/Handicapped

Jackson Township
Exceeding Expectations
for People with Disabilities

When Fran and Michael Mazzi thought about relocating their family, they needed to

See caption below
Specialized swings allow all children to enjoy Jackson's Special Needs Park.

consider supports and opportunities for their 12-year-old daughter with Down syndrome.  Their research led them to a town in Ocean County that had a reputation for providing quality special education.  They were doubly impressed to learn of a group, appointed by the governing body, to help meet Dawn’s needs and welcome her into the community.  That town was Jackson.

“We were impressed that the Jackson Commission for the Disabled/Handicapped, the only one of its kind in the area at that time, was there to provide us with additional supports. It was the best way to go for our daughter,” says Fran Mazzi.  “We’ve enjoyed Commission-sponsored trips to places like amusement parks, boat rides and shows.  We participate in every holiday party.  Most importantly, our entire family felt the level of support and inclusion that we had hoped for.  Dawn is challenged through her participation in Commission activities.  She sees what others are doing and realizes that she could do that, too.  And then she does it.”


As of the 2000 Census and supplementary surveys
15.6 percent of the population has disabilities.


Twenty years later as the fastest growing community in New Jersey, Jackson remains committed to ensuring that everyone feels welcomed.  

The Jackson Township Commission for the Disabled/Handicapped, formed over 30 years ago, has as its mission, to: identify and assist people with disabilities in the community; manage operations of the accessible van serving Commission clients; serve as an advisory body to the Jackson Township Committee; and seek funding for its programs.   Commission members and staff facilitate networks among service providers to meet the needs of community members with disabilities.  The Commission also provides recreational activities for those registered with it.

A Place for Everyone A recent noteworthy result of the Commission’s efforts has been the development of the Jackson Special Needs Park.  Two years in planning, the park’s dedication in July 2004 allowed children with disabilities the opportunity to enjoy a park experience alongside their siblings and friends without disabilities.  Funded by private donations, corporate sponsors and the township, the Commission’s chairperson at the time, Vinny Rubio, insisted, “It can’t look like a special park.  It needs to blend into the environment, exceed accessibility standards, and provide good safety features.  The community was really positive about it from the beginning.”

20 Years of Change The organization has witnessed first hand the changes in attitudes toward people with disabilities.  Important legislation during those times include the passage in 1975 of Public Law 94-142, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act now codified as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and in 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which was basically civil rights legislation for people with disabilities.  Although some community members have been resistant toward including people with disabilities, their legal rights prevail. 

See caption below.
Fenceposts highlight community contributions.

Gerard Redmond, a long-time Commission member, reflects on the changes.  “It’s been easier since the passage of the ADA to get community support.  More people are aware of the rights of people with disabilities.  The governance is more aware of their responsibilities to protecting the rights and ensuring the inclusion of people with disabilities.”  Emilia Harrison, a member of the Commission for over 20 years, agrees, “The Commission is making a lot of progress now.  Younger people are involved who are more attuned to the different kinds of supports from which people with disabilities might benefit.”

 

 

 

Ways to Do More for Community Members with Disabilities
  • Invite members of the disabled community to analyze accessibility.

Invite members of the disability community to review the accessibility of municipal programs.  In that review, list all municipal facilities, programs and events, including recreation, holiday, and celebratory events. Also include different types of disabilities (not just physical ones), and brainstorm possible accommodations. 

  • Communicate your goals to include everyone

Inform the community that the event is inclusive in advertising, flyers, posters and mailings.  If registration is involved, ask if accommodations are needed and be responsive to those requests.  If registration is not involved, invite requests for accommodations in the announcements.   Designate someone to handle those requests.

  • Assemble an advisory team.

Assemble a group of interested people to provide ongoing perspective and input on disability issues.  Include individuals with disabilities, family members, or other advocates with an expertise that contributes toward the goal.  Such groups can sponsor educational forums, conduct outreach to identify the needs of community members with disabilities, and serve in an advisory role to the governing body.  Direct new community members with disabilities to the group for an orientation on available local supports.   .

  • Conduct outreach.

Ask people with disabilities what they want.  Hold a community forum to solicit input.   Ask about experiences in other communities and ways to meet needs.

  • Ask for help.

Involve community service groups, adult and school age, to support programs for people with disabilities by developing resources for a project, handling communications, or assisting people who need it.

  • Expand the accessibility of communications.

Once you have listed programs and events, consider all the ways in which citizens receive information about your municipality.  The Internet may be your primary source.  Have your municipality website Bobby approved.   Bobby is a web-based tool that analyzes web pages for their accessibility to people with disabilities. The Center for Applied Special Technology offers Bobby as a free public service.

  • Show respect.

While this may be understood, it cannot be overemphasized.  People with disabilities are people first who want to access the same opportunities and information as other citizens. 

  • Hold a service fair.

Assemble all of the community service organizations at least annually at your annual community day, your community center, within your local retail center or another central location.  Invite other affiliated agencies and organizations.  Citizens benefit from the opportunity to learn about local resources. 

  • Develop a voluntary registry for people with disabilities for emergency response.

Although the utility companies maintain and share a voluntary list of those affected by utility outages, individuals with other types of handicapping conditions could be seriously affected by an emergency.   Seeking permission to share the information with local emergency responders improves community safety.
            Although Jackson does not currently employ all of these strategies, we are committed to ensuring that people with disabilities have the opportunities to provide input into Jackson’s future. 
           

Michael L. Broderick is the Mayor of Jackson, population 50,000 in Ocean County.
Kathleen Patrick is a member of the Jackson Commission for the Disabled/Handicapped and the Jackson Special Education Advisory Council, vice-president of Easter Seals NPO Advantage, and a parent of a son with a disability.

 

 


Article in December 2005, New Jersey Municipalities