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July 30, 2004

Activities mark anniversary of Disabilities Act

From: Aberdeen American News, SD - Jul 30, 2004

By Brooke Anderson
American News Writer

A celebration was held this week at the South Dakota School for the Blind and Visually Impaired for the 12th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It was just one of the activities in Aberdeen to commemorate the act and shed light on the challenges disabilities pose.

ADA Awareness Day, which was held in the School for the Blind's gymnasium, featured guest speakers and an awards ceremony, and drew an audience of 20.

Marje Kaiser, superintendent of the SDSBVI, welcomed the speakers and the audience. Rollie White of the Adjustment Training Center spoke briefly about employment opportunities.

Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen presented awards to several business owners and managers for making their facilities more accessible to disabled people - by having Braille instructions on elevators and accessible parking.

The honorees included Bruce Kieffer from the Ramkota Hotel, Robert Orr from Fifth Avenue Apartments, Mary Jo Schaible from Avera Mother Joseph Manor Retirement Community and Davis Court Apartments, and John Emmett from the Hub Area Technical School.

The keynote speaker was Robert Kean, executive director of South Dakota Advocacy Services. He was introduced by White.

Alma Salhi, a rehab nurse from Avera St. Luke's Hospital, made concluding remarks.

Also this week, a program for first- through fifth-graders called "Wandering on Wednesday" was held at the Alexander Mitchell Library in conjunction with the Americans with Disabilities Act anniversary.

Nancy Schlichenmayer, community specialist for the Communications Service for the Deaf, taught the children some sign language and talked about accessible parking.

Schlichenmayer and Kathy L. Harmel from Opportunities for Independent Living had children make smores blindfolds so they could understand what it's like to be blind. They then gave the children pamphlets and fact sheets on disabled Americans.

At 10:30 a.m. today, the city's parks and rec department and the Aberdeen library are expecting more than 200 children at Wylie Park's Storybook Land castle for two hours of activities for them to learn about disabilities. The children will get a copy of their names in Braille, they'll make peanut butter sandwiches blindfolded, simulate other activities as though they have dyslexia, and they'll try to put shirts on with plastic gloves to understand what it's like to have arthritis.

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