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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Justice Department Signs Agreement with Town of Pomfret, Connecticut, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the town of Pomfret, Conn., 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). 

 

“I commend public officials in the town of Pomfret for making this important commitment to ensuring equal access to civic life for individuals with disabilities,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Civic access is a civil right, and the ADA guarantees to individuals with disabilities the same opportunities to participate in, and access, local government that everyone else enjoys.”

Pomfret is a small town located in northeastern Connecticut with an estimated population of 3,798 residents. More than 14 percent of Pomfret’s residents have disabilities and will benefit from the agreement. Under the agreement, the town of Pomfret 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 town 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 of the ADA and their applicability to the town’s programs, services and activities;
  • Officially recognizing the Connecticut 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 town’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;
  • Adopting a grievance procedure to deal with complaints of disability discrimination relating to town programs, services and facilities; and
  • Amending its employment policies, as necessary, to comply with the regulations of the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission implementing title I of the ADA.

“The ADA applies to every state, city, county, town and village throughout the United States, no matter how large or small,” said Assistant Attorney General Perez. “I hope that public officials across this nation will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ADA by making a renewed commitment to the individuals with disabilities who live in their communities.”

 

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’s investigation of the town of Pomfret was initiated when it received a complaint alleging that the town hall was not accessible to individuals with disabilities. The department will actively monitor the town’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.

 

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 181st 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 the Town of Pomfret, the Project Civic Access initiative, and the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments can be obtained 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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