WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Berkeley, CA, and Chicago, IL, have been chosen as the winner and runner-up in the sixth annual Accessible America Contest, the National Organization on Disability (NOD) announced today. The cities are being heralded as national models for innovative programs to promote community inclusion of people with disabilities. The Accessible America Contest, administered by NOD's Community Partnership Program, is sponsored by generous grants from UPS and Wal-Mart. Other 2006 contest finalists were: Alexandria, VA; Bloomington, IN; Indianapolis, IN; Louisville, KY; Miami Beach, FL; New Haven, CT; San Francisco, CA; and Sioux Falls, SD, Berkeley will receive the top prize of $25,000 sponsored by UPS. Their best practices included the nation's first universally designed affordable housing development; a comprehensive transportation program, an outstanding emergency preparedness plan for people with disabilities, and a self-imposed tax to fund some of their disability services. Chicago, as runner-up, will receive a Wal-Mart sponsored cash award of $10,000. Chicago was chosen for a variety of programs that help incorporate people with disabilities in community life, included rewriting of the city building code to mandate adaptable and visitable requirement in privately and governmentally owned and financed units; the creation of a Mayoral Task Force on Employment of People with Disabilities; a certification program for business enterprises owned and operated by people with disabilities. The award money will be presented at forthcoming ceremonies to the Mayor in each of the winning cities and is intended to fund local disability-related efforts. Previous Accessible America first-place winners include: Cambridge, MA, Venice, FL; Irvine, CA; Phoenix, AZ; and Pasadena, CA. Honorable mentions have gone to Austin, TX, and West Hollywood, CA. The finalists were judged by five leading national disability advocates and experts. Accessible America applicants demonstrate an exceptional commitment to offering their citizens with disabilities full and equal opportunities to participate in the life of their communities, including access to jobs, education, religious worship, voting, transportation, housing, emergency preparedness planning, and services. The Accessible America Contest promotes nationwide replication of these best practices. For information about entering the 2007 Accessible America Competition, contact Mr. Rik Opstelten at 202/293-5960. The deadline is October 31, 2007. Additional information is available at http://www.nod.org.
SOURCE National Organization on Disability