Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Justice Department Signs Agreement with Upshur County, Texas, to Ensure Civic Access for Persons with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced an agreement with Upshur County, Texas, to improve access to all aspects of civic life for people 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).

 

“Access to civic life is a fundamental part of American society, and people 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 for the Civil Rights Division . “Upshur County has made an important commitment to achieving ADA compliance, and this agreement serves as a roadmap to that important end. I commend Upshur County officials for working with the Justice Department to provide equal access to all of its programs, services, and activities.”

 

“The ability of all citizens to enter a courthouse or a polling place to vote is central to our democracy,” said John M. Bales, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas. “Our office, in conjunction with the Civil Rights Division, will continue to work with Upshur County and other counties to make all public facilities in the Eastern District fully accessible.”

 

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. Based on these surveys, agreements are tailored to address the steps each community must take to improve access. This agreement is the 196th under the PCA initiative.

 

Under the agreement announced today, Upshur County will take important steps to improve access to county programs for individuals with disabilities, such as:  

  • Making physical modifications to its facilities so that parking, routes into the buildings, entrances, public telephones, restrooms, service counters and drinking fountains are accessible to persons with disabilities.  
  • Posting, publishing and distributing a notice to inform members of the public about Title II of the ADA and how it applies to the county’s programs, services and activities.
  • Implementing and reporting to the Department of Justice the county’s written procedures for providing information about the county’s accessible programs, services and activities and their locations.
  • Appointing an ADA Coordinator and adopting a grievance procedure to handle grievances submitted under the ADA.
  • Implementing effective communication policies approved by the Department of Justice to ensure people with disabilities have access to county programs and services, including county law enforcement agencies.
  • Developing policies and procedures and planning to ensure that people with disabilities are afforded equal, integrated access to emergency management programs, including emergency preparedness, notification, evacuation, sheltering, response, clean up and recovery.
  • Implementing a plan to ensure the accessibility of sidewalks, transportation stops and pedestrian crossings by installing accessible curb ramps throughout the county.
  • Establishing and implementing a policy to ensure that county web pages are accessible to people with disabilities.  

Today’s agreement was reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities by state and local governments. The agreement will remain in effect for three years from Nov. 22, 2011, or until all actions required by the agreement have been completed, whichever is later. The department will actively monitor compliance with the agreement until all required actions have been completed.

 

For more information on today’s agreement, the PCA initiative, or the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments, please visit the ADA website at www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY). People interested in finding out more about today’s agreement with Upshur County, please visit www.ada.gov/upshur_co_tx_pca/upshur_co_tx_sa.htm.

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