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Burton Blatt Institute receives $6.2 million grant from U.S. Dept. of Education to continue leadership of ADA Center in southeastern United States

October 04, 2011

Anthony Adornato
(315) 443-6173

The U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research has awarded the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University a $6.2 million, five-year grant to continue its leadership of the Atlanta-based Southeast ADA Center.

Established in 1991 and operated by BBI since 2006, the Southeast ADA Center serves an eight-state region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. It is one of 10 regional centers dealing with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and accessible information technology.

The Center offers training and technical assistance to promote voluntary compliance with the ADA, including information about the rights of people with disabilities and the responsibilities of businesses, as well as state and local governments to provide them with equal opportunity to participate.

“This grant will enable BBI to advance its successful and cutting-edge work of increasing knowledge and implementation of the ADA in the southeastern United States,” says University Professor Peter Blanck, BBI chairman. “This is a tremendous achievement for BBI and Syracuse University, as we continue to expand our role in advancing the rights of people with disabilities.”

Although the ADA legislation was enacted 21 years ago, there are remaining questions concerning compliance with this civil rights legislation, and people with disabilities still need clarification about their rights under the ADA. The Southeast ADA Center provides guidance for those with rights and responsibilities under the ADA. The Center offers core services, such as technical assistance, publications and materials dissemination, training, public awareness and referrals.

Under the leadership of Pamela Williamson, project director of the Southeast ADA Center, the Atlanta office is staffed by nationally recognized ADA experts, researchers and information specialists.

“Our job is to provide free, confidential, and accurate ADA information to anyone who has rights or responsibilities under this civil rights law,” says Williamson. “Complying with the ADA levels the playing field so that everyone—with or without a disability—has an equal opportunity to succeed. Our goal is to create a fully accessible world for all of us.”

Under BBI’s leadership during the past five years:

  • More than 35,000 individuals have participated in the Center’s four online courses focusing on all ADA Titles.
  • The Center has responded to 25,000 requests for technical assistance received via the toll-free number and email. The three largest groups of callers were people with disabilities and family members (55.6 percent), businesses and employers (20.5 percent), and state/local government personnel (15.1 percent). 
  • The Center partnered with the Real Economic Impact Tour and regional Internal Revenue Service staff in five cities and one state in the Southeast to create an outreach, training and technical assistance program for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site coordinators and volunteers to assist individuals with disabilities with income tax preparation.
  • In the past year, 147,000 individuals have downloaded ADA-related Legal Briefs, researched by BBI’s legal staff, from the Center’s website,

BBI reaches around the globe to advance the civic, economic, and social participation of people with disabilities. Launched in 2005 at SU’s College of Law, BBI builds on the legacy of Burton Blatt, former dean of SU’s School of Education and a pioneering disability rights scholar, to better the lives of people with disabilities. BBI engages in projects on civil and human rights, inclusive entrepreneurship, employment, and economic empowerment. With a staff of more than 50, BBI has offices in Syracuse, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. For more about BBI, visit

For more information about the the Southeast ADA Center, visit

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