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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Washington County, Missouri, to Ensure Accessibility of Public Facilities

The Department of Justice announced today an agreement with Washington County, Missouri, to resolve issues of accessibility of buildings that offer county services and programs.  This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which the Civil Rights Division plays a critical role in enforcing. 

Washington 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.  Under the agreement the county is required to ensure that people with disabilities can get inside buildings that offer county services and programs, and take full advantage of those services and programs.

The agreement with Washington County will allow people with disabilities to access county services and programs, such as Randy Barron, who attempted to apply for a marriage license.  Barron was met with barriers after he got through the front door of the county building and found that the ramp going to the Recorder of Deeds office was too steep for him to safely get his wheelchair down.  In addition, there was no room for him to maneuver his wheelchair to a flat surface and reach the door.  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 Barron’s story by checking out 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, Washington County will ensure that people with disabilities can get inside buildings that offer county services and programs, and take full advantage of those services and programs.  The county is required to remove architectural barriers in its buildings, including making entrances accessible.  Washington County has already installed an elevator to provide access to the upper and lower levels of the courthouse.

“Access to a county government’s programs, services and activities is a fundamental civil right guaranteed to community members,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Civil Rights Division.  “Through this agreement, Mr. Barron and other individuals with disabilities will have the opportunity not only to get in the front door of county buildings, but have access to all aspects of civic life provided by the county.”

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).

Updated August 26, 2015