Justice Department Reaches Agreements with Three Counties Across the Country to Increase Accessibility
As part of the Justice Department’s year-long celebration marking the 25th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA)—ADA 25: Advancing Equal Access—the department announced today the signing of three agreements with counties to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities. The agreements, reached with the Champaign County, Illinois; Merced County, California; and Yakima County, Washington, are all part of Project Civic Access (PCA), the department’s wide-ranging initiative to ensure that cities, towns and counties throughout the country comply with the ADA.
The PCA initiative ensures that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in civic life, a fundamental part of American society. As part of the PCA initiative, Justice Department staff survey state and local government facilities, services and programs in communities across the country to identify what is needed to comply with the ADA. The agreements address the steps a community must take to improve access. With the signing of these three agreements, the department has entered into nine PCA agreements this year alone, and more than 217 agreements since the initiative began.
Under the agreements announced today, the counties will remove barriers to accessibility in buildings, such as government office buildings providing services to its citizens, courthouses, police or sheriff offices, jails, libraries, recreation centers, community centers, polling places, parks and fairgrounds. The agreements also require the counties to:
- make physical modifications to facilities so that parking, routes into the buildings, entrances, public telephones, restrooms, service counters and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities, as well as make sure that assembly areas have the required wheelchair and companion seating;
- post, publish and distribute a notice to inform members of the public of the provisions of Title II and their applicability to the municipalities’ programs, services and activities;
- train staff in using their state relay service for telephone communications;
- develop a method for providing emergency management policies and procedures for persons with disabilities, including preparation, notification, response and clean-up;
- develop a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the municipalities’ accessible services, activities and programs;
- establish, implement and post online a policy that their web pages be accessible, create a process for implementation and ensure that all new and modified web pages are accessible; and
- implement a plan for the accessibility of sidewalks and curb cuts within their borders.
“The story of civil rights for persons with disabilities is the story of having to fight paternalistic laws and ill-advised social mores,” said head of the Civil Rights Division, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “Individuals with disabilities faced the indignities of not being able to enter public buildings or have equal access to the services, programs and activities offered by their local governments; they were barred from attending schools and getting jobs. Until, that is, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of this major civil rights law, the department renews its commitment to work with state and local governments to ensure that their citizens with disabilities attain equal access to all of their programs, activities and services.”
For more information about the ADA, today’s agreement and the PCA 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).