Justice Department Signs Agreement with the Town of Swansea, Massachusetts, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities
WASHINGTON - An agreement has been reached with the town of Swansea, Mass., to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities, the Justice Department today announced. The agreement was reached under Project Civic Access (PCA), the department’s wide-ranging initiative to ensure that cities, towns and counties throughout the country comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“Individuals with disabilities must have the opportunity to participate in local government programs, services and activities on an equal basis with their neighbors,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division. “I commend Swansea’s officials for their big commitment to make this small town’s programs and facilities accessible to residents and visitors with disabilities. We hope that other cities and counties throughout the country will follow Swansea’s example by working with us to make their communities fully accessible.”
PCA was initiated to ensure that persons 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 investigators, attorneys and architects survey state and local government facilities, services and programs in communities across the country to identify the modifications needed for compliance with the ADA. The agreements are tailored to address the steps each community must take to improve access. This agreement is the 187th reached under the PCA initiative.
Under the agreement announced today, Swansea will take several important steps to improve access for individuals with disabilities, such as:
Making physical modifications to facilities surveyed by the department so that parking, routes into buildings, entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, public telephones and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities;
Surveying other facilities and programs and making modifications wherever necessary to achieve full compliance with ADA requirements;
Posting, publishing and distributing a notice to inform members of the public of the provisions of Title II of the ADA and their applicability to the town’s programs, services and activities;
Training town staff in using the Massachusetts Relay Service as a key means of communicating with individuals who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing or have speech impairments;
Undertaking the required planning and modifications to ensure equal, integrated access to emergency management for individuals with disabilities, including emergency preparedness, notification, evacuation, sheltering, response, clean up and recovery;
Ensuring that the town’s official website and other web-based services are accessible to people with disabilities;
Developing a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the town’s accessible services, activities and programs;
Installing signs at any inaccessible entrance to a facility directing individuals with disabilities to an accessible entrance or to information about accessing programs and services at other accessible facilities; and
Implementing a comprehensive plan to improve the accessibility of sidewalks, transportation stops and pedestrian crossings by installing accessible curb ramps throughout the town of Swansea.
Swansea was established in 1663 as a colonial site. The historical town is located in Bristol County at the mouth of the Taunton River in southeastern Massachusetts, less than 50 miles from Boston. According to U.S. Census data, Swansea has just under 16,000 residents. Approximately 16 percent of Swansea residents have a disability and will benefit from this agreement.
Today’s agreement was reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments. The agreement will remain in effect for three years from Feb. 15, 2011, or until all actions required by the agreement have been completed, whichever is later. The department will actively monitor compliance with the agreement until all required actions have been completed.
People interested in finding out more about the ADA, today’s agreement with the town of Swansea, the Project Civic Access initiative or the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments can access the ADA Web page at www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).
More information regarding the agreement is available at www.ada.gov/swansea_pca/swansea_facsht.html .