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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Justice Department Signs Agreement with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities. The agreement was reached under Project Civic Access (PCA), the department’s wide-ranging initiative to ensure that cities, towns and counties throughout the country comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"Civic access is a civil right, and individuals with disabilities must have the opportunity to participate in public programs, services and activities on an equal basis with their neighbors," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. "I commend officials from the Unified Government for making this commitment to its residents with disabilities, and for working with us to attain equal access to all of its programs, activities and services."

PCA was initiated to ensure that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in civic life, a fundamental part of American society. As part of the PCA initiative, Justice Department investigators, attorneys and architects survey state and local government facilities, services and programs in communities across the country to identify the modifications needed for compliance with ADA requirements. The agreements are tailored to address the steps each community must take to improve access. This agreement is the 176th under the PCA initiative.

"We appreciate the commitment to accessibility and ADA compliance made by each of the 176 cities, counties, and other government entities who have entered into a PCA agreement with the Justice Department," said Assistant Attorney General Perez. "We hope that all local governments throughout the country are committed to achieving full compliance with the ADA, particularly as we prepare to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this landmark civil rights law in July."

Under the agreement announced today, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, will take several important steps to improve access for individuals with disabilities, such as:

  • Making physical modifications to facilities surveyed by the department so that parking, routes into the buildings, entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, public telephones, and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities;
  • Surveying other facilities and programs and making modifications wherever necessary to achieve full compliance with ADA requirements;
  • Ensuring that buildings and outdoor facilities that will be built or altered by or on behalf of the Unified Government comply with the ADA’s architectural requirements;
  • Posting, publishing and distributing a notice to inform members of the public of the provisions of Title II and their applicability to the Unified Government’s programs, services and activities;
  • Officially recognizing the Kansas telephone relay service as a key means of communicating with individuals who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing, or have speech impairments and training staff in using the relay service for telephone communications;
  • Undertaking the required planning and modifications to ensure equal, integrated access to emergency management for individuals with disabilities, including emergency preparedness, notification, evacuation, sheltering, response, clean up, and recovery;
  • Developing a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the Unified Government’s accessible services, activities and programs;
  • Installing signs at any inaccessible entrance to a facility directing individuals with disabilities to an accessible entrance or to information about accessing programs and services at other accessible facilities; and
  • Implementing a comprehensive plan to improve the accessibility of sidewalks, transportation stops, and pedestrian crossings by installing accessible curb ramps throughout Wyandotte County and Kansas City.

Located in northeast Kansas in the heart of the Midwest, Wyandotte County and its county seat, Kansas City, are home to an estimated 154,250 Kansans. According to census data, 24.6 percent of Wyandotte residents – about one in every four residents – is a person with a disability.

Today’s agreement was reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments. The agreement requires most actions to be completed within 3 years. For the required accessibility modifications to sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, and transportation stops, which includes the installation of large numbers of curb ramps, the Unified Government will work with the disability community to prioritize and complete these modifications within 10 years. The department will actively monitor compliance with the agreement, which will remain in effect until the department has confirmed that all required actions have been completed.

People interested in finding out more about the ADA, today’s agreement with Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, the Project Civic Access initiative, or the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments can access the ADA Web page at www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

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