WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today a settlement agreement with the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union (MVLA), which owns and maintains Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, the home of the nation’s first president, George Washington. The department and MVLA reached an amicable agreement under which the association will continue to bring Mount Vernon’s structures and facilities into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible design standards and provide effective communication of the content of its audiovisual presentations, exhibitions, public programs and other offerings for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or have low vision.
"As the nation celebrates the 20th anniversary of the ADA, we commend the Mount Vernon Ladies Association for its cooperation and for its innovative efforts to improve access to this historic estate and to its exhibitions and programs for individuals with disabilities," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "This agreement shows that two lofty goals – providing access for individuals with disabilities, and preserving and understanding our nation’s historic past – are not in conflict. This agreement will ensure equal access for individuals with disabilities who want to participate in the wide range of public offerings of one of the most important historic estates in the United States."
Under the settlement agreement Mount Vernon will:
The estate is located in Alexandria, Va., on the banks of the Potomac River. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The estate has 20 structures and 50 acres of gardens as they existed in 1799 and includes George Washington’s mansion, a museum, the tombs of George and Martha Washington, and a slave burial ground and memorial.
The agreement resolves a compliance review under the ADA. The department’s review focused on the historic mansion, the Mount Vernon Inn and Shops, the Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center, the Ford Orientation Center and the public walks connecting these structures. People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement can call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY), or access its ADA website at www.ada.gov.