Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Justice Department Signs Agreement with Wilmington, North Carolina, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement with the city of Wilmington, N.C., to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities. The agreement was reached under "Project Civic Access," a Justice Department initiative to bring state and local governments into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This agreement is the 171st reached under Project Civic Access and the tenth this year.

Project Civic Access was initiated to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in civic life. As part of the project, department investigators, attorneys, and architects survey state and local government facilities and programs throughout the country to identify modifications necessary to comply with ADA requirements. Depending on the circumstances in each community, the agreements address specific areas where access must be improved.

"Civic access is a basic right guaranteed to all, and today’s agreement illustrates Wilmington’s commitment to improving access for all of its residents and visitors with disabilities," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "We applaud Wilmington for entering into this agreement that will further the rights and opportunities of individuals with disabilities."

The city of Wilmington, also known as the Port City, is located in the southeastern corner of North Carolina between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. Wilmington has become a popular location for filming movies and TV shows. More than 15,400 individuals with disabilities call Wilmington home, and the percentage of Wilmington residents who have a disability is higher than the national average.

Under the agreement announced today, the city of Wilmington will take several steps to improve access 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 of the provisions of the ADA and their applicability to the city’s programs, services, and activities;
  • Adopting a grievance procedure to deal with complaints of disability discrimination;
  • Amending its employment policies, as necessary, to comply with the regulations of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • Implementing a plan that will provide accessible sidewalks and curb ramps throughout Wilmington;
  • Ensuring that the city’s official website is accessible to persons with disabilities, including individuals who are blind or have low vision;
  • Providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the city’s accessible services, activities and programs; and
  • Installing signs at any inaccessible entrance to a city facility directing members of the public to an accessible entrance or to information about other accessible facilities where services can be obtained.

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 will remain in effect for three years. The department will monitor compliance with the agreement until required actions have been completed.

People interested in finding out more about the ADA, today’s agreement with Wilmington, N.C., or the department’s Project Civic Access initiative may find this information on the ADA Web site at http://www.ada.gov or may call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

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