MINNEAPOLIS – The Justice Department today released “Access for All: Five Years of Progress,” a status report highlighting the Administration’s successes over the last five years in enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The report discusses the achievements of the Civil Rights Division during this Administration that are enhancing opportunities and improving access for millions of Americans with disabilities throughout the nation. The report also cites specific cases illustrating access and compliance successes in areas ranging from health care to employment to emergency services.
“At the Department of Justice, we are working to change negative attitudes about people with disabilities based on old and outdated stereotypes. We aim to establish conditions in this country in which the hopes and dreams of these individuals can be realized,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “Through a comprehensive program of law enforcement and technical assistance, we have helped provide people with disabilities greater access to health care, public facilities, education, employment and other settings in communities across America.”
The report features the progress of Project Civic Access (PCA), a comprehensive program focused on ensuring that towns and cities across America comply with the ADA. Under the leadership of the President through his New Freedom Initiative, PCA has significantly expanded efforts to assist communities all across America as they take steps to make their programs and services accessible. As part of PCA, Department investigators, attorneys, and architects survey state and local government facilities and programs across the country for the purpose of working with communities to identify modifications necessary to achieve ADA compliance.
On Sept. 20, 2006, the Civil Rights Division reached its milestone 150th agreement under Project Civic Access with Kanawha County, W.V. The county has agreed to take steps under the terms of the agreement, including making numerous modifications to its parking facilities and building entrances, and ensuring the accessibility of polling places. These agreements are helping to improve the lives of and broaden opportunities for more than 3 million Americans with disabilities in the communities involved since 2001.
The Attorney General also identified a slate of 11 new PCA locations to be evaluated over the next two years. These include:
• Montgomery County, Md.
• Fayette County, Pa.
• Gregg County, Texas
• Port Saint Lucie, Fla.
• Atlanta, Ga.
• Fairfax County, Va.
• Chautauqua County, N.Y.
• Wyandotte County, Kan. • Seattle, Wash.
• Fargo, N.D.
• Des Moines, Iowa
At the direction of Attorney General Gonzales, the Civil Rights Division is compiling a PCA Best Practices Toolkit to build upon this success and broaden the impact the program. The toolkit will help the 80,000 units of local government that are covered by Title II of the ADA conduct their own evaluations of their facilities and programs and take the necessary steps to achieve ADA compliance.
A copy of the “Access for All” report will be available next week on the Department’s ADA Web site at http://www.ada.gov. More information about the work of the Civil Rights Division can be found at http://www.ada.gov and at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/drs/drshome.htm.