In 2009, Roger Sparks (61 years) had filed a civil suit against the city of Peoria, Illinois, regarding the lack of access to City Hall for people in wheelchairs. After three years, in 2012 the suit was settled in favor of Sparks and the city agreed to fix the number of issues raised by the Sparks.
Being a disabled citizen, Sparks found it difficult to move around the city, and that’s when he thought of taking charge of this issue and helping other people with disabilities who faced similar problems. Sparks was also a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Committee for Citizens with Disabilities from 2006 to 2014. And this is where the issue came into light. He used to attend meetings in City Hall where the meetings would get over by 6 pm, and some people would want to use the restroom before leaving for home. There was only one wheelchair-accessible washroom, and that too required a key to access. The key was in the office that used to shut down at 5 pm.
The result of the settlement made the officials build a wheelchair ramp in City Hall. Also, there were several additions to the restrooms in the city apart from the other main improvements. Spark still felt that this wasn’t enough as there were still several areas in the city that were not wheelchair friendly.
Sparks also emphasized on the sidewalks, which were not accessible to people in wheelchairs as they were either blocked by obstacles or were deteriorating. Because of which, a person on the wheelchair could not access the sidewalk and move to the street which is not safe. Calling himself as an advocate for disabled rights, Spark tells the city of Peoria to use him as their consultant where he would try to help them in making things simpler for them to move around in the city freely.
The government's argument on limited funds for the city does not stop Sparks from fighting for the rights of people with disabilities and he continues to push for more wheelchair accessibility in the city.