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Featured Article

Celebrating Disability Awareness

Embracing Inclusivity in Carmel

Article by Hillarie Finley

Photography by Logan Clark (Maverick Marketing)

Originally published in Carmel City Lifestyle

As we approach Disability Awareness Month in March, we want to ensure that readers and Carmel residents are well-informed about disability advocacy in Carmel. 

To this end, we spoke with three Advisory Committee on Disability members, Laura Campbell, David Littlejohn, and Tim Paramore, to learn more about the local initiatives, partnerships, and resources created for a more inclusive and accessible environment around Carmel.

These dedicated community members shared their insights and experiences with us and discussed efforts to support individuals with disabilities and promote greater awareness and understanding of their needs. 

Disability Awareness Initiatives and Programs

When the Advisory Committee on Disability began in December 2019, the goal was to spark initiatives and programs focused on disability awareness. Since the committee’s founding, three subcommittees have been formed: Accessibility, Employment, and Social Interaction.

“My daughter Emily is 32, but she has epilepsy,” Laura explains. “I felt the isolation that a lot of families of people with disabilities felt, and I wanted to help people with disabilities when I joined the council.” 

Recently, a virtual art show in collaboration with the Carmel Arts Council showcased the talents of disabled artists, giving them a platform for creative expression and appreciation. Other events are planned for 2024, including a potential reverse job fair in October, allowing disabled individuals to connect with prospective employers without the pressure of traditional job interviewing settings.

Partnerships with Schools and Local Businesses

Any successful endeavor requires community collaboration. Carmel High School students help the committee with disability awareness initiatives, fostering a sense of understanding and empathy from a young age. These students helped create new proclamations and learn about the importance of inclusivity.

While students without disabilities learned how to cultivate inclusive environments, Carmel High School prepared disabled students for life after high school.

“Our school system does a really good job with the transition teams, working with them to find jobs,” David said.

Jack Russell from OneZone Chamber teamed up with the council and local employers to create a more accessible environment for all prospective employees and support disability awareness.

In 2022, BraunAbility hosted an educational event for local employers who wanted to learn more about employing disabled people. “We just wanted to break down that barrier,” Laura said. “It’s a really good dialogue for our local employers and specialists who work with us daily.”

Increasing Community Accessibility and Inclusivity

Some proactive measures, like accessibility audits, allow community members to identify and assess the accessibility of public spaces, promoting modifications and improvements. The myCarmel app enables residents to report accessibility problems with geolocation information, and many reports are addressed within days.

When asked about success with his work, David said, “It would be on how well we’re able to resolve the issues that come through, whether it’s through the app or if they contact me directly.”

During former Mayor Jim Brainard’s tenure, he placed an emphasis on walkability within the city. “It also mirrors accessibility for people who might use a wheelchair or walker,” Laura said. “It’s good to hear feedback from the community where improvements can be made because they have kids, grandchildren, or grandparents.” By focusing on accessibility, everybody benefits.

Another invaluable element of creating an inclusive community is to create a space that encourages socialization. The new North End apartment complex in Carmel (525 N. End Dr.) partnered with the Village of Merici to provide attainable housing for numerous disabled residents.

At North End, residents are treated with empathy and respect rather than forced into isolation because of their disabilities. Many apartment events are open to all residents for community integration and connection.

The accessible and ADA-compliant units in North End provide more than a housing option but also create a community that understands and addresses the unique needs of its residents.

Innovative technology is pivotal in each unit, providing streamlined solutions that make living independently convenient and intuitive. Residents and their families can use an Amazon Echo Show to set reminders, look up recipes, unlock doors in the building, and video chat with loved ones.

Accessible Parks and Greenways in Carmel

River Heritage Park (11813 River Rd.) is a wheelchair-accessible park with impressive features. The playground features a wheelchair-friendly swing, merry-go-round, and other options for visitors of various mobility and strength levels. Another key feature of this park is its wheelchair-accessible nature trail and White River outlooks.

Meadowlark Park (450 Meadow Ln.) proudly contains a wheelchair-accessible fishing pier.

Carey Grove Park (14001 Carey Rd.) is for the musicians. Each musical feature creates a learning experience for all park visitors, regardless of age and ability. 

Resources for Learning More About Disability Rights

If you want to learn more about helping disabled individuals, one great place to start is the community. The next Advisory Committee on Disability meeting is on February 13 at 9 a.m. at the Carmel Clay Public Library. To learn more about the committee, visit 

Other resources include Village of Merici (, The Arc of Indiana (, and the ADA Great Lakes Center (

Addressing Misconceptions about Disability

Misconceptions create barriers for disabled individuals and perpetuate negative stereotypes. Such beliefs can limit a person’s opportunities for employment, education, and social inclusion, making it challenging for them to live a fulfilling life. 

“I think there is a sensitivity level for mobility barriers that folks with disabilities run into,” Tim said. “They aren’t seen by able-bodied people.” One example is that some doors and street curbs have a lip over an inch and a half, posing a problem for wheelchair and walker users. 

Sensory challenges are another area often ignored. Sounds, smells, and lighting are all aspects people miss when they design public spaces. 

By addressing such misunderstandings through education and open conversation, Carmel is becoming a more inclusive community that respects people of all ages and abilities. Promoting awareness and acceptance of individuals of all backgrounds can foster an environment with greater understanding, compassion, and respect.

Looking Forward

Disability Awareness Month in March is essential in showcasing the importance of inclusivity and accessibility for all. As the Advisory Committee on Disability highlights the community's ongoing efforts, they continue building upon past initiatives to foster an environment where everybody feels accepted, valued, and supported. Residents and business owners can also use this time to prepare for National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October.

Small changes often lead to substantial improvements. During his tenure on the committee, Tim has frequently asked himself and other committee members, “How do we make things a little bit better?”

By educating ourselves about disability rights and engaging in community efforts to support inclusivity, Carmel can grow as a community for everyone. We can all contribute to a more inclusive community by attending upcoming events and participating in local accessibility initiatives.

It's good to hear feedback from the community where improvements can be made.

  • North End Apartments
  • Equipment at River Heritage Park
  • Accessible Equipment at River Heritage Park
  • Accessible path at Flowing Well Park.
  • Roundabouts are key to a walkable community.
  • River Heritage Park
  • Photo by Photocreo Bednarek