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Friday, January 30, 2015

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Nueces County, Texas, to Improve Accessibility of Services and Programs

The Department of Justice announced today an agreement with Nueces County, Texas, to resolve issues of accessible entry inside buildings that offer county services and programs, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  This year marks the 25th anniversary of the ADA, which the Civil Rights Division plays a critical role in enforcing.  In honor of the anniversary, each month the Department of Justice will spotlight efforts that are opening gateways to full participation and opportunity for people with disabilities.

Nueces County and the U.S. 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.  One of the hallmarks of the agreement is the requirement that the county will assess all existing web content and online services for conformance with industry guidelines—the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0—for making web content accessible.

The agreement with Nueces County will allow people with disabilities, like Marshall Burns, who was invited to present at the Coastal Bend Hurricane Conference in Nueces County.  Unfortunately, when Burns tried to register online for the conference, he wasn’t able to do so because he is blind.  The forms on the county website were incompatible with the software program that reads text out loud to him.  Experiences like this, however, will become a thing of the past over the next three years thanks to the PCA agreement.  You can learn more about Burns’ story by checking out the Justice Department blog where we will highlight each month different ways the ADA benefits people with disabilities. 

Under the agreement announced today, Nueces County, Texas, will also ensure that people with disabilities—especially people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices—can get inside buildings that offer county services and programs.  That means the county will renovate everything from entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, and parking so that people with disabilities can get into county buildings and use services and programs the county offers.  Sidewalks and curb cuts all over the county will also be targeted—another change that promises to significantly improve life for people with disabilities in Nueces County. 

“Over the past 15 years, nearly 220 communities have signed agreements with the Department of Justice to ensure that their citizens with disabilities enjoy the same services, programs and activities that all others enjoy,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division.  “Participation in and enjoyment of the benefits of the services, programs and activities provided by local government is a fundamental civil right and the ADA is shaping the way local municipalities deliver their services to people with disabilities.”

For more information about the ADA, today’s agreement, the Project Civic Access initiative, 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).

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Updated August 27, 2015