Disability Resources

Disability Resources

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​​​The City of Ann Arbor values all of its citizens, regardless of ability. Our mission statement reads, in part: "The City of Ann Arbor is committed to providing excellent municipal services that enhance the quality of life for all."  

The Ann Arbor Commission on Disability Issues has evolved from a commission created and convened by Mayor Robert Harris and City Council in 1969, and maintained through the years under various names. The city collaborated with and drew from its Disability Commission to create this resource page.

Disability Commission Application 

If you are interested in serving on the Disability Commission, please fill out a Board and Commission application (PDF) or visit the City Clerk's website for more information.

The Commission on Disability Issues meetings are held at 3:15 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month in the Larcom City Hall building, Council Chambers Second Floor, 301 E. Huron St.

This page is a work in progress, and your questions and feedback are welcomed! Please email the city communications office at or call 734.794.6110, ext. 41511. Questions about the commission, specifically, may be directed to staff liaison Amy Seavitt via email at or by calling 734.794.6120, ext. 41203.

In the News

Washtenaw Community College Offers Mixed Media Class for Special Needs Adults
A new class, "Adaptive Art Adventures: Mixed Media Painting and Printing" is being offered at Washtenaw Community College this fall that is geared toward adults with special needs. The class is scheduled to run for five consecutive Mondays, starting on September 14. Class registrants may bring along a family member or aid at no additional cost. Supply kits are ordered just for the paying student. For more information visit

Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living Invites the Public to the Mi Hiddent Talent Tour 

The Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living invites the public to the Mi Hiddent Talent Tour featuring Michigan Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein. The event is September 24 at the Washtenaw Community College, Morris J. Lawrence Auditorium, 4800 East Huron River Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48105. A welcome reception is at 5:30 p.m. and the program begins at 6:00 p.m.

This event is a statewide tour aimed at inspired Michigan companies to hire workers with disabilities. Lt. Governor Calley and Justice Bernstein will share stories about companies who found valuable workers who have a disability. As part of the MI Hidden Talent Tour, these state leaders, along with local organizations helping with this effort, will provide resources and answer questions for business leaders who want to explore this untapped pool of talent.

Please RSVP by registering at:  

Two Michigan Libraries Honored with Awards for Exemplary Service to Blind and Disabled Readers

Congratulations to the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled and Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library for awards for Exemplary Service to Blind and Disabled Readers. Terry Soave, Manager of Outreach & Neighborhood Services and Josie Parker, Director of the Ann Arbor District Library, were in DC to accept the award. Read entire article below:  

The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), part of the Library of Congress, today presented awards to two Michigan libraries, in Lansing and Washtenaw County, for outstanding service to readers who are visually or physically disabled.

The Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library in Lansing received the Network Library of the Year Award. The annual award, in its 12th year, carries a $1,000 cash prize.

The Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled at the Ann Arbor District Library, a subregional library of the Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library, received the Network Subregional Library of the Year Award. The annual award, in its ninth year, carries a $1,000 cash prize.

NLS presented the awards at a luncheon ceremony today in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

NLS Director Karen Keninger said, "Today we commend the Michigan and Washtenaw libraries for their exceptional creativity and responsiveness in removing barriers to reading for people who are blind or are unable to use print materials."

In 2014, the Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library in Lansing served 11,442 individuals and 500 institutions and organizations, circulating 607,856 braille and talking books and other materials. Eleven full-time employees and an equal number of part-time students staff the library.

"The Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library (MBTBL) is proud to receive this award and sees it as the culmination of our year of positive change in 2014. Staff diligence, dedication and collaboration surfaced repeatedly as the library took on what seemed like insurmountable challenges," said Sue Chinault, manager of the Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library. "Even as we reorganized, we were able to take advantage of opportunities to create services that are stronger and more sustainable for the future."

Rebecca Swain, a 30-year patron of the library from Haslett, says MBTBL "is everything I could want in a library."

Despite a statewide reorganization of libraries that serve people who are blind, the Michigan Braille and Talking Book Library managed to achieve new heights in patron satisfaction and quality of service in 2014. The reorganization allowed Michigan to centralize the circulation of braille and talking books for its subscriber population and to realize efficiencies that improved service across the state. The library tripled its attendance at outreach events, the number of public library demonstration sites grew by 86 percent, and participation in the library's summer-reading program increased more than 300 percent.

During the transition, the Michigan library's Consumer Involvement Committee made a strategic decision to expand subscriber involvement, by offering both online and telephone opportunities for patrons to voice their questions and concerns about the braille and talking-book program. This open forum gives library patrons unprecedented access and ability to influence those making decisions about the future of the library.

Also in 2014, the Michigan library established a download agreement with the library for the blind in Helsinki, Finland, giving the large Finnish-speaking population in Michigan's Upper Peninsula access to thousands of Finnish titles.

In 2014, the Washtenaw Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled at the Ann Arbor District Library (WLBPD@AADL) served approximately 500 patrons and circulated talking books and magazines on 15,949 digital cartridges.

"Under WLBPD@AADL's unique service model, all public services staff of the Ann Arbor District Library (approximately 175 full-time and part-time staff) are trained and available to provide WLBPD services," said Terry Soave, Washtenaw manager of Outreach and Neighborhood Services. "This model ensures that anybody seeking the services of the WLBPD@AADL may be accommodated at any of AADL's five locations, during all hours of operation (74 hours per week), either in-person, by phone, or by e-mail, and in a timely, professional, and customer-service-centered manner."

"We are all so excited to receive this award," said Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) Director Josie Parker. "Since 2009, we have provided all AADL public service staff with the training and support to serve people who are blind or have a print disability. This has allowed us to expand the service to all of our locations. The result has been increased use of the program and a very high satisfaction rate from consumers. This new service model created a culture of inclusivity that has resonated with staff and consumers."

The Washtenaw library's model of expanded service through partnership has won rave reviews from its patrons. In a patron survey that elicited a 30 percent response, 94 percent of respondents rated the Washtenaw's library services as excellent or good and 97 percent said they would recommend the service to someone they knew.

Washtenaw patron Darlene Beardsley said, "My life wouldn't be worth living without the library. I was in a nursing home battling depression, and receiving humor books saved the day. I can't say enough good things about the library."

All eight of the public libraries in AADL's service area serve as demonstration sites for patrons who might be eligible for the braille and talking-book program. Stickers promoting the talking-book service were placed in the public libraries' large-print collections. In addition, AADL partners with the University of Michigan's School of Information to ensure that students learning about accessible technology are aware of the braille and talking-book services.

In addition to providing a greater platform for promoting talking-book services, this subregional library hosted nine events in 2014 to inform and assist the local community. The American Printing House for the Blind traveling exhibit, "Child in a Strange Country: Helen Keller and the History of Education for People who are Blind or Visually Impaired," drew more than 5,000 visitors to the Washtenaw library.

NLS created the Network Library Awards to recognize outstanding accomplishments of libraries serving people with visual and physical challenges across the country and in U.S. territories. A committee of librarians and consumer-organization representatives chooses finalists from among the nominated libraries based on mission support (defined by the "American Library Association Revised Standards and Guidelines for Service"), creativity and innovation in providing service, and record of reader satisfaction. The four NLS network regional conference chairpersons recommend the final selections to the NLS director.

NLS administers the braille and talking-book program, a free library service available to U.S. residents and American citizens living abroad whose low vision, blindness, or disability makes reading a regular printed page difficult. Through its national network of libraries, NLS mails books and magazines in audio and braille formats, as well as digital audio equipment, directly to enrollees at no cost. Music instructional materials are available in large print, e-braille, braille, and recorded formats. Selected materials are also available online for download, and are accessible through smartphones. For more information, visit or call 1-888-NLS-READ (1-888-657-7323).

The Library of Congress, the nation's oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at

Check out CTN's Access Ann Arbor: An Amazing Youth In the Community Featuring Austin Shepherd.

ADA Legacy Bus Tour Will Stop in Detroit July 21
On July 21, 2015, the ADA Legacy Bus Tour will stop in Detroit and Michigan disability community member volunteers are needed to help plan bus stop celebration events, volunteer at the event, and financially support it. For more information visit  or contact Susan Fitzmaurice at 248.767.2217.

Resources by Functional Impairment Category

The below functional impairment categories are derived from definitions included in the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, from the World Health Organization.

City Services/Accommodations

Ann Arbor Commission on D​isability Issues

PO Box 8647

Ann Arbor, MI 48107

Staff Liaison: Amy Seavitt

email: aseavitt@a2g​​  

phone: 734-794-6120, extension 41203

  • Unless otherwise noted on the city meetings and events calendar​, meetings are held mothly on the third Wednesday of each month with public comment time available. The monthly meetings take place at 3:15 p.m. in City Council chambers, second floor, Larcom City Hall, 301 E. Huron St. Watch the live me​eting​ online or view public meetings at your convience online via CTN's video on demand.

Our vision is: An Ann Arbor whose facilities, programs, businesses and organizations are accessible to persons of all abilities, and where inclusion and full-and-equitable participation in community life are available to everyone. 


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