Courtesy of Eve Hill, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division
There are almost 90,000 units of state and local governments, each of which plays a fundamental role in the lives of its residents. Not only do these governmental entities provide a wide array of programs, services, and activities to their residents, they also rely on their residents to participate in civic activities by voting, serving on advisory boards, running for office, volunteering in schools and countless other activities. In the United States, more than 55 million Americans—18% of our population—have disabilities. This number includes many people who became disabled while serving in the military. And, by the year 2030, approximately 71.5 million baby boomers will be over age 65 and may need services and surroundings that meet their age-related physical needs. And they, like all Americans, want to fully and meaningfully participate in all their state and local government has to offer. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. Under Title II of the ADA, people with disabilities are entitled to all of the rights, privileges, advantages and opportunities that others have when participating in civic activities.
To help state and local governments understand how the ADA applies to their particular programs, services and activities, the department has published a new technical assistance document, ADA Update: A Primer for State and Local Governments. This 16-page illustrated guide provides practical, non-legal information that addresses Title II’s general nondiscrimination requirements, such as provisions relating to program accessibility, service animals, communicating with people with disabilities, power-driven mobility devices and policies and procedures. The document also addresses how the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design apply to existing buildings and facilities, new construction and alterations. In addition to this primer, the department helps state and local governments through Project Civic Access—a wide-ranging initiative to ensure that cities, towns and counties throughout the country comply with the ADA.
This new document is available on the department’s ADA Website at http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleII_2010/title_ii_primer.html. Also available on the ADA Website are a variety of additional technical assistance materials specifically for State and local governments addressing such topics as voting, emergency management, and community integration. Individuals who have questions about this document, the requirements of Title II, or the ADA in general may call the department’s ADA Information Line (1-800-514-0301, Voice; 1-800-514-0383, TTY). Specialists are available to answer questions Monday – Friday from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time), except on Thursdays when the hours are 12:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Calls are confidential.