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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Improve Accessibility of Services and Programs

The Department of Justice announced today an agreement with Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to improve access to all aspects of civic life for people with disabilities in Cedar Rapids.  This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which the Civil Rights Division plays a critical role in enforcing. 

Cedar Rapids and the Department of Justice reached an agreement under Project Civic Access (PCA), the department’s wide-ranging initiative to ensure that cities, towns and counties throughout the country comply with the ADA.  Under the agreement, the city is required to ensure that people with disabilities can fully take advantage of the city’s services, programs and activities.

“Over the last 25 years, the ADA has required states and local governments to examine their facilities and provide citizens with disabilities the same program access to city services that all other citizens enjoy,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division.  “Agreements such as this one will ensure that individuals with disabilities in Cedar Rapids have more access to city services and programs which is essential for them to enjoy their civil right to full participation in American life.”

The agreement with Cedar Rapids will allow people with disabilities, like Catherine Hafsi and Cherie Clark, to access county services, programs and activities.  Ms. Hafsi, who uses a walker, encountered problems with the entrance door to the parking pay system in a municipal lot across from the federal courthouse as well as with sidewalks when she visited the Fair Housing Office at the Veteran’s Memorial Building.  Similarly, Ms. Clark, who uses a wheelchair and a walker, has encountered several accessibility issues with sidewalks and entrances to city facilities in Cedar Rapids.  Experiences like these, however, will become a thing of the past over the next four years thanks to the PCA agreement.  More of Ms. Hafsi’s and Ms. Clark’s stories are on the Justice Department blog, where each month of 2015, the department is highlighting how PCA agreements have an impact on the everyday lives of people with disabilities.

Under the agreement, Cedar Rapids will install, repair or replace thousands of sidewalks and curb ramps throughout Cedar Rapids to bring them into compliance with current ADA standards to improve access for persons with disabilities.  Cedar Rapids will also ensure that its city parking lots and toilet rooms are accessible to persons with disabilities and enhance accessibility throughout the city’s park system.     

This agreement was reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments.  The four-year agreement will remain in effect until September 1, 2019.  The department will actively monitor compliance with the agreement.        

For more information about the ADA, today’s agreement, the Project Civic Access initiative, or the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for state and local governments, individuals may access the ADA Web page at http://www.ada.gov/civicac.htm or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).

Updated September 1, 2015