WASHINGTON — The Justice Department today announced an agreement with Youth Services International, Inc. (YSI), to resolve a lawsuit filed by the Department under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The agreement requires YSI to ensure that youth who are deaf or hard of hearing have an equal opportunity to participate in its programs.
“Juveniles with disabilities must be afforded the same opportunity to receive services designed to further their education, health, and well-being,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We look forward to YSI’s prompt implementation of these reforms.”
The lawsuit and agreement were filed in the United States District Court in Baltimore. The agreement resolves allegations that YSI, a company that provides services at juvenile justice facilities and in community non-residential programs in several states, failed to provide a sign language interpreter for a deaf youth at the Victor Cullen Center in Sabillasville, Md. The deaf youth, who communicates through American Sign Language, was detained at the Center for 11 months and, along with other detainees, required to participate in rehabilitative, educational, recreational, and other programs. However, he could not participate fully in and benefit from the programs because he was not given appropriate services such as a sign language interpreter.
Under the agreement, YSI will ensure that all youth who are deaf or hard of hearing will be provided appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including sign language interpreters, telecommunication devices for the deaf and visual alarms. The company will also implement a company-wide training program on the ADA and communicating with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
"Under this agreement, YSI will ensure that children who are deaf or hard of hearing are able to fully participate in and benefit from rehabilitation programs," Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.
The Department of Justice’s lawsuit resulted partly from YSI’s failure to comply with a number of similar provisions to which YSI agreed in a 2004 settlement agreement with the Department. In the papers filed today, the parties asked the court to place the case on its docket for three and a half years, at which time the case will be dismissed if YSI has met the terms of the agreement.
In May 2006, the Department released several new publications and a fully accessible streaming video on its Web site, to assist law enforcement agencies in understanding their obligations under the ADA, including effective communication with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. These publications can be downloaded from the ADA Web site or ordered from the ADA Information Line.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the ADA or today’s agreement with YSI can access the ADA home page at http://www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD).