News from Northwest ADA Center Idaho
Bruce Rafford Receives Trophy Award
The Northwest ADA Center-Idaho would like to congratulate Bruce Rafford of the HLAA Spokane Chapter for the recent award he received based on his dedication to improve effective communication for people who are deaf or hard of Hearing. Bruce not only educates city and county government entities in Washington but also in Idaho. On Friday, October 30, the Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment presented the Trophy Award in Memory of Carolyn Blair Brown for a Washington resident with a disability who has significantly enhanced the empowerment of individuals with disabilities in the community and workforce.
This year’s award was presented to Bruce Rafford of the HLAA Spokane Chapter.
Bruce was recognized for having applied courage, passion, commitment and knowledge to grassroots advocacy at the retail level and transforming the access landscape of Washington State. Using his own resources, for more than 20 years now, Bruce has traveled to every part of the state, often returning several times, successfully advocating for substantial access improvements in courtrooms, government offices, hospitals and healthcare facilities.
As someone who has a significant hearing loss, Bruce’s work has been particularly effective in helping the covered entities learn to fully understand their obligations related to the provision of auxiliary aids for effective communication. After he has worked with a covered entity it will nearly always have the equipment, contacts, policies and procedures in place to meet its effective communication obligations in a timely and effective manner. However, he has also worked diligently to develop his expertise in the broader areas of disability access and requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act. His advocacy work with courts, government offices and healthcare providers has also resulted in substantial improvements in disability parking, accessible routes of travel, signage, materials in alternate formats and other areas of access for people with disabilities in dozens of communities in every part of the state. His advocacy with Yakima County Government led the county to seek further technical assistance from the US Department of Justice, resulting in a Project Civic Access settlement agreement that documents comprehensive steps undertaken to ensure equal access for people with the broad spectrum of disabilities throughout all of the county’s programs services and activities.
The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act did not give us a transformed nation or transformed communities. It did not achieve full access, equality of opportunity and inclusion of people with disabilities with the stroke of pen. It did however give us all a set of tools and a challenge for each of us to use those tools to build that access and opportunity. Using those tools effectively requires commitment to build the knowledge to understand what each tool can do and how it can be used. It also requires courage and a passion to find or create the opportunities to apply those tools and to follow through on those opportunities. No one has taken that challenge more to heart than Bruce Rafford. As a lone advocate, with no organization to credential or support him, he’s put himself forward as an advocate for access over and over again, leaving an extensive network of access improvements benefiting thousands of people with disabilities in every part of the state, who will most likely never know his name, or what they owe to him.
Dana Gover, MPA, and ACTCP Certification, ADA Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 711