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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Justice Department Signs Agreement with Pearl River County, Mississippi, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced an agreement with Pearl River County, Miss., 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). 

 

“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this month, we applaud Pearl River County for its commitment to bring its facilities and programs into full compliance with the ADA,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “Individuals with disabilities will now have improved access to the programs and services offered by the county.”

 

 

More than 24 percent of the residents of Pearl River County have disabilities and will benefit from the agreement announced today.   Under the agreement, Pearl River County 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;
  • Posting, publishing and distributing a notice to inform the public of the provisions of Title II of the ADA and their applicability to the county’s programs, services and activities;
  • Adopting a grievance procedure to deal with complaints of disability discrimination relating to county programs and services;  
  • Officially recognizing the Mississippi 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;
  • Continuing 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;
  • Amending its employment policies, as necessary, to comply with the regulations of the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission implementing Title I of the ADA;
  • Providing accessible polling places;
  • 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;
  • Maintaining its database that tracks and assists the county in prioritizing and making the repairs needed to eliminate barriers to accessibility in the county’s sidewalks;
  • Ensuring that the county’s official website is accessible to people with disabilities; and
  • 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.

Today’s agreement was reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments.   The department will actively monitor the county’s compliance with the agreement, which will remain in effect for three years or until the department has confirmed that all required actions have been completed, whichever is later.

 

Following an influx of new residents after Hurricane Katrina, Pearl River County, located in southern Mississippi, was recognized by the Census Bureau as the seventh fastest growing county in the United States.   Pearl River County is the fourth largest county in Mississippi.

 

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 the ADA.   The agreements are tailored to address the steps each community must take to improve access.   This agreement is the 182nd under the PCA initiative.

 

More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at the website www.justice.gov/crt .   More information about the ADA, today’s agreement with Pearl River County, the Project Civic Access initiative, and the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments can be accessed at the ADA Web page at www.ada.gov or by calling the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).

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