WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced today a settlement agreement with West Virginia’s Kanawha County Public Library Board under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The agreement, marking the Department’s 157th such agreement, was signed as part of Project Civic Access, the Department’s nationwide initiative that has broadened opportunities for more than 3 million Americans with disabilities by bringing government entities into full compliance with the requirements of Title II of the ADA.
"Public libraries are vital civic institutions that help educate and inform our society," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "This agreement will ensure that the valuable services offered by Kanawha County Public Library, the largest public library system in the state of West Virginia, are more accessible to individuals with disabilities."
Under the settlement agreement, Kanawha County Public Library will make modifications to each of its 10 library facilities to increase access for persons with disabilities. The modifications include bringing into compliance parking spaces, exterior routes, ramps, library entrances, book stacks, magazine racks, card catalogs, check-out counters, restrooms and drinking fountains. In addition to physical modifications, the Kanawha County Public Library Board will: ensure that communications with persons with disabilities are as effective as communications with others; adopt an ADA grievance procedure; appoint an ADA coordinator; and take steps to improve the accessibility of its Web site.
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than one of every five residents of Kanawha County identifies him or herself as a person with a disability. At 22 percent, the portion of Kanawha County’s population that has a disability is significantly higher than the national average, which is about 15 percent. Nearly 100,000 West Virginians are registered to borrow books from the Kanawha County Public Library system, including residents of all 55 of West Virginia’s counties.
"The Kanawha County Public Library fully appreciates our responsibility to provide the essential free public service of the library to all of our patrons," said Michael A. Albert, President of the Kanawha County Public Library Board. "The Library Board and staff are committed to providing facilities that are as accessible as possible and to making the excellent programs and services the library offers available to all."
Project Civic Access was initiated to ensure that persons 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 across the country for the purpose of identifying modifications needed to comply with ADA requirements. Depending on the circumstances in each community, the agreements address specific areas where access for persons with disabilities can be improved.
People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement can access the ADA Web site at http://www.ada.gov or call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).