• "It's a Deaf Thing" Expo - September 30, 2017

    On September 30th, the RP Funding Center was visited by an estimated 2,000 people attending the Deaf Expo, “It’s a Deaf Thing.”

    “It's A Deaf Thing” was designed to celebrate Deaf culture and the perspectives of the over 200,000 Floridians who experience some level of hearing loss. This event provided opportunities to explore resources available to members of the Deaf community, to share experiences, and to enjoy art and entertainment.

    The event included vendors with businesses serving the needs of Deaf individuals, and businesses owned by Deaf individuals. It also included representatives from agencies serving Deaf individuals, and those with hearing loss. The City of Lakeland’s ADA and Accessibility Services program was also represented.

    The City’s ADA Specialist was asked to participate in the event by Jackie Bowman. Ms. Bowman is a founding member of the Lakeland chapter of the Hearing Loss Association. Ms. Bowman is also a member of the City’s “Lakeland Alliance for Accessibility.” She joined the Alliance to raise awareness about obstacles facing individuals who experience hearing loss and Deafness.         

    According to David Lind, President of ProjectDEAF, “It’s a Deaf Thing” is the only known event of its kind across the state of Florida. Mr. Lind said that he was “excited to present this opportunity for the Deaf Community across Florida, to have a place to gather and connect with each other and showcase their skills.”

    If you’d like to learn more about ProjectDEAF go to

     Expo Expo

  • 2017 Christmas Parade

    New Accessible Viewing Area at Christmas Parade a Big Success!

    On December 7th the City of Lakeland hosted the 37th annual Christmas Parade. This year there was a new feature; an Accessible area for individuals with wheelchairs, and their families. The Accessible area was located at the corner of Rose St. and Main St. next to the Fire Station. Prior to the event, the location was added to the parade route map, and posted on the City website.

    The Accessible area included designated parking, a designated viewing location, and a porta-toilet. The area was added due to feedback from the City’s Lakeland Alliance for Accessibility and other members of the community, and will be continued annually. As the City works to enhance access for the Christmas Parade, new locations may be chosen in the future, so checking the parade route map each year is advised.

    A couple of days before this years’ event, the designated viewing area was cordoned off by Traffic Operations. The City would like to thank citizens and visitors for honoring the posted signs at this area, by not placing folding chairs there. This made it easier for individuals with wheelchairs, and their families, to use the location.

    The City created additional Accessible parking spaces in the Rose St. lot for the parade, and 25 vehicles with the appropriate parking permits used the location. The designated viewing area was used by 10 individuals with wheelchairs and related mobility devices, who were accompianied by their families.

    During the evening, City staff were on hand to monitor the Accessible viewing area and provide assistance as needed to get to the location. After the parade, City staff shared that is was very gratifying that many of the individuals, using the Accessible area, offered their thanks to the City for creating this new feature.

    The City would appreciate additional feedback about the new Accessible feature of the parade, and will use suggestions to plan for next year. Among the suggestions already received were that there be more Accessible parking and a larger viewing area for next year. Please send your suggestions and comments to the ADA Specialist Jenny Sykes.

    We hope you enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!

    2017 Christmas Parade Accessible Area


  • White Cane Day - October 15, 2017

    In 1964 a joint resolution of Congress was signed into law, authorizing the President of the United States to proclaim October 15th of each year as "White Cane Safety Day." The White Cane Law was created to enhance safety and, to recognize that the right to travel independently should be available to all, and cannot exclude those who use a white cane or guide dog. In 1999, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida officially recognized and proclaimed October 15th as White Cane Safety Day state-wide.

    The white cane, in addition to being a practical mobility tool, serves as a symbol of dignity, freedom, and independence for individuals who are Blind or visually impaired. On White Cane Safety Day, we also celebrate the contributions individuals with visual impairments have made to our country.

    On October 2nd, 2017, Mayor Wiggs presented the Lakeland Alliance for Accessibility a proclamation reaffirming the original resolution, and the 1999 Florida proclamation. The City of Lakeland’s proclamation was accepted by Alliance members Jennifer Brooks of Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind and Darlene Sellars, recently retired from the Division of Blind Services.

    Please join the City of Lakeland and the Lakeland Alliance for Accessibility in making a commitment to use appropriate safety measures when driving near an individual using a white cane or guide dog.

    Florida Statute:

    “Section 316.1301, F.S. € Whenever a pedestrian is crossing, or attempting to cross, a public street or highway, guided by a guide dog or carrying, in a raised or extended position, a cane or walking stick which is white in color, or white tipped with red, the driver of every vehicle approaching the intersection or place where the pedestrian is attempting to cross, shall bring his or her vehicle to a full stop before arriving at such intersection or place of crossing and, before proceeding, shall take such precautions as may be necessary to avoid injuring such pedestrian.”





  • Americans With Disabilities Anniversary - July 26, 2017

    July 26, 2017 marks the 27th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The City of Lakeland has recognized this historical event by creating a proclamation commemorating the date as the Americans with Disabilities Act Day. On July 17th Mayor Wiggs presented the proclamation to the Lakeland Alliance for Accessibility. The Alliance is made up of individuals who experience disabilities and/or represent those who do. The Alliance was formed to aid in the City’s goal of becoming as accessible as possible, for as many people as possible, regardless of ability.  

    The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all facilities that are open to the public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

    It is estimated that over 1 billion people worldwide experience disabilities. In addition, it is estimated that by 2029, more than 20% of the U.S. population will be over the age of 65. Based on those statistics, it is clear that for all of us, among our families, friends, neighbors and co-workers, are individuals who experience specific needs based on disability.

    As we recognize the July 26th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is fitting that the City has recently formalized an ADA Transition Plan. This will guide us towards greater compliance, and ideally, Universal Access.

    Universal Access is about planning and designing facilities, products and services to be accessible to the greatest number of people possible, regardless of ability. To assist the City in this goal, we are privileged to have on our Alliance members who have spent their lives, personally and professionally, advocating for individuals with disabilities. We are grateful to have their guidance as we strive for equal access for all.

    If you would like to learn more about the Lakeland Alliance for Accessibility, contact the City’s ADA Specialist, Jenny Sykes at 863.834.8444 or