WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced an agreement with Humboldt County, Calif., to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities. The agreement was reached under Project Civic Access, a Justice Department initiative to bring state and local governments into full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
"Today we are celebrating the commitment that Humboldt County officials have made to ensure that their community is accessible to all of their citizens," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "As a result of today’s agreement, many more persons with disabilities will now be able to participate fully in fundamental aspects of American life in their own community, including attending town hall meetings, viewing government Web sites, accessing emergency services, and voting at their local polling places. Their increased participation benefits all Americans."
The Department’s agreement with Humboldt County specifies that the county will:
• Make physical modifications to its facilities so that parking, routes into the buildings, entrances, public telephones, restrooms, service counters, and drinking fountains are accessible to persons with disabilities;
• Post, publish and distribute a notice to inform members of the public of the ADA’s provisions and their applicability to the county’s programs, services and activities;
• Officially recognize California’s telephone relay service and train staff in using the relay service to ensure effective communication for people who are deaf or hard of hearing;
• Continue to ensure that 9-1-1 emergency service calls placed by persons with disabilities who use text telephones (TTYs) are answered as quickly as other calls, that such calls are monitored for timing and accuracy, and that employees are trained and practiced in using a TTY to make and receive calls;
• Ensure that the county’s official Web site is accessible to persons with disabilities;
• Develop a method for ensuring that voters with disabilities can vote independently, and making auxiliary aids and services available to the public upon request, including ballots in alternate formats; • Ensure access to emergency management services for persons with disabilities; and
• Develop a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the county’s accessible services, activities and programs.
The settlement agreement will remain in effect for three years.
Project Civic Access was initiated to ensure that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in civic life. As part of the project, Department investigators, attorneys and architects survey state and local government facilities and programs for the purpose of identifying the modifications needed to comply with ADA requirements. Depending on the circumstances in each community, the agreements address specific areas where access can be improved. To date, the Department has entered into 158 settlement agreements under Project Civic Access, which improve access in communities throughout the country.People interested in finding out more about the ADA or today’s agreement with Humboldt County can access the ADA home page at http://www.ada.gov or can call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD).