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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Justice Department Signs Agreement with St. Clair County, Illinois, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced an agreement with St. Clair County, Ill., 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 basic civil right, and the doors to government programs, services and activities must be open for individuals with disabilities," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. "I commend St. Clair County officials for making this commitment to its residents with disabilities by agreeing to come into voluntary compliance with the ADA, thereby working towards equal access to all of its programs, services, and activities."

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 attorneys, architects and investigators 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 177th under the PCA initiative.

"All local governments throughout the country are obligated to achieve full compliance with the ADA, and we hope they are committed to doing so, particularly as we approach the 20th anniversary of this landmark civil rights law in July, " Assistant Attorney General Perez said.

Under the agreement announced today, St. Clair 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;
  • 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 St. Clair County 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 St. Clair County’s programs, services and activities;
  • Ensuring that communications with applicants, participants and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others;
  • Providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of St. Clair County’s accessible services, activities and facilities;
  • 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; 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.

St. Clair County was the first county established in the state of Illinois. Located just east of St. Louis, the county is comprised of 22 townships, with an estimated 263,617 residents. According to census data, nearly one in five county 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 all actions to be completed within three 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 St. Clair County, Ill.; the PCA initiative; or the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments, can access the ADA website at ww.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

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