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Friday, January 21, 2022

City and county Equal Opportunity Offices host 4th annual expo

Both the city and county Equal Opportunity Offices have planned a day full of vendors, exhibits and support groups to celebrate the anniversary of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities.

The Fourth Annual Americans with Disabilities Act Expo is being held today at Sidney Lanier School, 312 NW 16th Ave., from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Rodney Bickel, equal opportunity specialist for Gainesville, said people are traveling from Orlando and Tallahassee to participate.

Both offices started planning for the event about five months ago.

The expo will cost less than $4,000, including advertising and food, Bickel said.

"We do it on a shoestring budget, that's for certain," he said.

More than 20 vendors will attend, including the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections and the UF Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Office.

The expo has grown from 50 visitors four years ago to an anticipated 250 this year, said Jackie Hart-Williams, Alachua County Equal Opportunity program specialist.

UF students will provide assistance to people with disabilities who visit the expo, Bickel said.

The 17 volunteers are students from an Exceptional People class, which is taught by Mary Ann Nelson, a lecturer in the UF Department of Special Education.

Nelson said she hopes her students develop lasting relationships with the people they assist at the expo.

"You get comfortable around people with disabilities, and you start to see them as people and strike up some friendships," she said.

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