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Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters is joined by representatives from various agencies which serve the disabled to announce the establishment of a joint Fort Wayne-Allen County Disability Advisory Council.

Helping Allen County and the City of Fort Wayne become more inclusive of people with disabilities is the idea behind the establishment of a new community panel.

The Allen County Board of Commissioners and Mayor Tom Henry today jointly announced plans to form a Fort Wayne-Allen County Disability Advisory Council. The purpose of the council is to assist in providing equal access for people with disabilities to employment, services, programs and activities offered in the city and county.

"With the diversity that exists within today's society, it does take all of us to enhance this community's quality of life," said Commissioner Nelson Peters. "The Fort Wayne-Allen County Disability Advisory Council will help to ensure that everyone will have a voice at the table with all of those quality of life discussions."

"I'm encouraged that we live in a caring and giving community which values and appreciates all residents," said Mayor Henry. "I'm looking forward to positive outcomes as a result of this proactive collaboration designed to have a lasting and meaningful impact in Fort Wayne and Allen County."

Some of the council's responsibilities will include serving as an information resource for city and county elected officials and administrators regarding needs and conditions of people with disabilities, identifying barriers to full community participation, and recommending corrective actions.

"The Northeast Indiana Disability Advocacy Coalition is grateful to both city and county officials who are making the inclusivity of our community a priority for people with disabilities," commented Shelley Yoder, who chairs the coalition. "We look forward to working with Mayor Henry, Commissioner Peters, and others to assist in providing information and guidance as we all work together to provide equal access to all people of all abilities in our outstanding community."

"This new advisory council is reflective of how times have changed from when we were just trying to comply with accessibility requirements in the 1990's to now, when we are striving to be the best we can be at including people with disabilities in the life of the community," added David Nelson, president and CEO of The League. "It's a tribute to the leadership in Fort Wayne and Allen County, and another example of our 'best in class' thinking."

The council will consist of nine members. The Northeast Indiana Disability Advocacy Coalition will appoint a total of five members, two of whom are disabled. The City of Fort Wayne and Allen County will each appoint one member. The ADA coordinators for the city and county will serve as ex officio members. The council is expected to meet at least quarterly and produce an annual report which summarizes its recommendations, activities and accomplishments.