News and Press Releases

News Release
U.S. Department of Justice
Peter F. Neronha
United States Attorney
District of Rhode Island

September 30, 2010

 

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SIGNS AGREEMENTS WITH FORT MYERS, FLA., AND NEWPORT, R.I.,
ENSURES CIVIC ACCESS FOR FOUR MILLION PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced agreements with the cities of Fort Myers, Fla., and Newport, R.I., to improve access to all aspects of civic life for individuals with disabilities. The agreements were 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).  The department has now reached 185 agreements under the PCA initiative, improving access to civic life for more than four million individuals with disabilities nationwide.

“Access to local government facilities, programs, and services is an important part of everyday life in the United States, and the ADA ensures that individuals with disabilities have that access on an equal basis with their neighbors,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division.  “I commend city officials in Fort Myers and Newport for making a solid commitment to providing equal access for their residents and visitors with disabilities.”

As part of the PCA initiative, 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.
Under the Fort Myers agreement, city officials will take several important steps to improve access for individuals with disabilities, such as:

      • Making physical modifications to the following 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:  the convention center, city hall, Fort Myers Police Station, the Burroughs Home, Dr. Ella Piper Center, Shady Oaks Community Center, the Yacht Basin, the Imaginarium, Golfview Pool and Community Center, Fort Myers Country Club, Stars Sports Complex, Fort Myers Historical Museum and the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.
      • Surveying other city facilities and programs and making modifications wherever necessary to achieve full compliance with ADA requirements.
      • Implementing a comprehensive plan to improve the accessibility of the city’s sidewalks, transportation stops and pedestrian crossings by installing accessible curb ramps.
      • Ensuring that buildings and outdoor facilities that will be built or altered by or on behalf of the city comply with the ADA’s architectural requirements.
      • 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.
      • Training city staff in using the Florida Relay Service as a key means of communicating with individuals who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing or have speech impairments.
      • 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.
      • Ensuring that the city’s official website and other web-based services are accessible to people with disabilities.
      • Ensuring that any city programs for victims of domestic violence and abuse are accessible to people with disabilities.
      • Developing a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the city’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.

Under the Newport agreement, city officials will:

      • Make physical modifications to the following 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: City Hall, Louis Duke Abbruzzi Little League Complex, the Van Zandt, Elm Street and Ann Street piers, Newport Gateway Center, Easton’s Beach, King Park, Miantonomi Park and Stone Tower, Cardines Memorial Field, Vernon Park, Hunter Field, the Edwards Street Tot Lot, the Edward King House, Newport Harbor Center, Golden Hill Recreation Center, Eisenhower Park, Newport Police Department, Brick Market Place, Morton Park and the Maintenance Facility which houses the Clean City Program.
      • Survey other facilities and programs and make modifications wherever necessary to achieve full compliance with ADA requirements.
      • Ensure that buildings and outdoor facilities that will be built or altered by or on behalf of the city comply with the ADA’s architectural requirements.
      • Post, publish and distribute 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.
      • Train city staff to use the telephone relay service as a key means of communicating with individuals who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing or have speech impairments.
      • Undertake 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.
      • Develop a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the city’s accessible services, activities and programs.
      • Install 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.
      • Continue the implementation of a comprehensive plan to improve the accessibility of sidewalks, transportation stops, and pedestrian crossings by installing accessible curb ramps throughout Newport.

According to U.S. Census data, more than 25 percent of Fort Myers residents and more than 17 percent of Newport residents have a disability and will benefit from these agreements.  The department will actively monitor compliance with today’s agreements, which will remain in effect for a period of three years or until the department has confirmed that all required actions have been completed.
        Today’s agreements were reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments.  People interested in finding out more about the ADA, today’s agreements, the Project Civic Access 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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Contact: 401-709-5357
USARI.Media@usdoj.gov

 

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