Darke DD recieves grant funding for accessibility projects

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GREENVILLE – On Tuesday morning, the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities held its Awareness Breakfast. Not only did this breakfast help spread the word that March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, but DD also announced that they received a $550,000 grant for accessibility projects around the county. 

“These grant dollars support community partnerships that will enrich the lives of those who live, work, and socialize in Darke County,” Darke County Board of DD Superintendent Tonya Clark said.

In January, Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities Director Kim Hauck announced that $14.9 million from the American Rescue Plan Act would be distributed across 67 counties in Ohio to support those with Developmental Disabilities and their families. Darke County received the seventh-highest grant amount in the state. 

This grant will be used for projects across the county. 

Five new universal changing tables will be installed, including at the fairgrounds, the New Madison Library, the New YOLO Park restrooms, EUM Church, and another location in the northern part of the county to be determined soon. 

The Garst Avenue building will be equipped with an exterior ramp, lighting, accessible doors, and push-button door controls to provide access to the Health Department, Probate Court, Juvenile Court, and the County Records office. 

A wheelchair lift will be installed at the Radiant Lighthouse Church to access the stage. 

At the fairgrounds, walkways will be paved to allow access to all buildings, and the former Red Cross building will be renovated to be used as a sensory-friendly space.

New inclusive meeting equipment will be installed in the Darke DD Board meeting room and Birchwood Training Center for more accessibility and hybrid collaboration in meetings, trainings, and large events. 

In addition to the grant dollars they received, Darke DD is working with their council of governments to purchase two customizable mobile changing units to be used where accessible restrooms and permanent changing tables are unavailable. They are expected to be delivered by June 1 and can be borrowed from DD for events. 

These projects will go a long way in helping the county be more accessible for those with developmental disabilities, but it doesn’t have to stop there. There are ways others can contribute to making our community more accessible. Examples included motorized scooter charging stations, sensory spaces in your business or community, accessible picnic seating, providing access routes in outdoor areas with uneven terrain (these can be rented), assisted listening devices, accessible playground, and accessibility information listed on your website. 

“Enhancing community participation is one of the focus areas of the Darke DD strategic plan,” Clark said. “We hope these projects will help make our community more accessible to everybody and that it is easier for everyone to enjoy all that Darke County has to offer.”

If you want to learn more about what the Darke County Board of Developmental Disabilities offers, call (937)548-9057, email info@darkedd.org or visit their website at darkedd.org.