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Contest Invites Communities to Improve Disabled Access

DEAR ABBY: Somewhere in this great country there's a town or city that will win $25,000 and national recognition by entering the National Organization on Disability's 2003 Accessible America contest. Anyone who feels that his or her community is a model of accessibility -- a place where people with disabilities can fully participate just like anyone else -- should encourage the mayor to enter the contest before the Oct. 31, 2003, deadline.

When communities make the commitment to improve accessibility, all of their citizens and visitors benefit. One-fifth of all Americans have some sort of disability. That's why it is crucial that communities ensure a safe and welcoming environment. The Accessible America contest puts a spotlight on those cities and towns that are leaders in improving the quality of life for people with disabilities.

As vice chairman of the National Organization on Disability (NOD), I urge mayors in towns large and small to place a priority on creating a level playing field for all citizens by providing equal access to their services and facilities. I encourage them not only to share their successes by entering the contest, but also to join NOD's Community Partnership Program on behalf of their constituents. It's a great way to learn how best to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and to get tips on maximizing access and opportunities. -- CHRISTOPHER REEVE

DEAR CHRISTOPHER: Count me among your many fans. I'm pleased to publicize such a worthwhile endeavor.

Readers, the NOD Community Partnership Program is sponsored by the Alcoa Foundation, and the Accessible America contest is sponsored by UPS. I salute both for their community involvement.

To learn more about the contest, call (202) 293-5960 or visit the NOD Web site: www.nod.org. I'll put the name of the winning entrant in my column in December.

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