The city of St. Paul has a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator, as TJay Middlebrook took the post this fall. He likes to note that he began his accessibility career as a child before the ADA was passed.
Middlebrook and his mother are deaf. His mother fought for access for her son when he started pre-school, which in turn taught him the tools on how to navigate through an inaccessible world.
During college, many years after the passage of the ADA, Middlebrook still found himself fighting for access for his disability. That struggle led him to study political science in college. He experienced transformational internships with U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison’s North Minneapolis office, and the Minnesota Departments of Human Rights and Transportation.
One of his biggest achievements was interning in Washington D.C. and Uganda to train deaf and hard of hearing Ugandans to lobby for disability and accessibility rights in Uganda. He was able to teach year two (second and third grade) students at Uganda School for the Deaf, Ntinda in Kyebando, Kampala, Uganda.
In his new role, Middlebrook has already developed goals and plans to help create an accessible city for the St. Paul residents. One of his biggest tasks is to coordinate with different programs and buildings to implement and sustain compliance for accessibility using the ADA and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) outline for the city. He will be promoting best practices city-wide using both ADA and LEP. The major goal is to advance equality for people with disabilities.
Another aspect of his job is to also address allegations of discrimination and non-compliance under ADA and applicable federal and state laws based on disabilities. The LEP is a newer means of access that he will also be monitoring its’ plan outline closely to improving the city’s access to services for individuals with LEP who desires to participate in programs, services and activities provided by the city.
Middlebrook holds a bachelor’s degree graduated from the University of Minnesota and an MBA/MIB at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Prior to working for the city, Middlebrook worked for five years as a deaf and hard of hearing project coordinator at a nonprofit organization serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
He grew up in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood of St. Paul and is a member of the Highland Park Senior High School Class of 2005. In his spare time, he loves spending time with his wife, Genna and their two daughters, cheering on football (soccer), and watching tons of Marvel films.