Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Justice Department Signs Agreement with Des Moines, Iowa, and Des Moines Public Library to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – An agreement has been reached with the city of Des Moines, Iowa, and the Des Moines Public Library, to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities, the Justice Department today announced.  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).

 

“Access to public programs and facilities is a civil right, and individuals with disabilities must have the opportunity to participate in local government programs, services and activities on an equal basis with their neighbors,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.  “In reaching this agreement, the city of Des Moines and the city’s public library have made an important commitment to residents and visitors with disabilities.” 

 

“I am very pleased that the city of Des Moines and the Department of Justice have reached an amicable agreement in this matter to ensure access to persons with disabilities,” said Nicholas A. Klinefeldt, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa.

 

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 188th under the PCA initiative.

 

Under the agreement announced today, Des Moines will take 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 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;
  • Adopting a grievance procedure to deal with complaints of disability discrimination relating to city programs, services, activities and facilities;
  • Posting, publishing and distributing a notice to inform members of the public of the provisions of Title II and their applicability to the city’s programs, services, and activities;
  • Officially recognizing the Iowa 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;
  • Ensuring that the city’s official website and other web-based services are accessible to people with disabilities; and
  • Implementing a comprehensive plan to improve the accessibility of the city’s sidewalks and pedestrian crossings by installing accessible curb ramps throughout Des Moines.

Des Moines, incorporated in 1851, is the capital of and the most populous city in the state of Iowa.  It is located just south of the center of the state.  More than 20 percent of Des Moines residents have a disability and will benefit from this agreement.

 

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 three years.  For the required accessibility modifications to sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, transportation stops and curb ramps, the city will work with the disability community to prioritize and complete these modifications within seven 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 Des Moines, the PCA 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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