U.S. Attorney Settles ADA Complaints with Connecticut Department of Developmental Services
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has reached an Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) settlement with the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (“DDS”) to ensure that DDS provides effective communication for individuals with disabilities.
The settlement agreement resolves three ADA complaints filed by the State’s Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities on behalf of two individuals who are hearing impaired. The complaints allege that DDS failed to provide effective communication during certain programs and meetings by failing to make available sign language interpreters or appropriate auxiliary aids. DDS is working with the U.S. Department of Justice to develop and amend its policies and practices to ensure compliance with the ADA and the Department’s implementing regulations.
“Individuals who have disabilities must not be denied equal access to the services offered by the State of Connecticut because of their disability,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “We commend DDS for voluntarily agreeing to enter this settlement agreement, and to ensure they are providing effective communication to persons who are hearing impaired.”
The ADA requires “public entities,” including local governments and state agencies, to ensure effective communication with qualified individuals with disabilities. Under this agreement, a person who is deaf or hard of hearing will be able to benefit from the same services as every other person. For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, auxiliary aids include qualified sign language or oral interpreters, use of relay services, computer-assisted real time transcription, and, for simple communications, the exchange of written notes.
The settlement agreement specifically requires DDS to:
- Conduct a detailed audit of its services to make sure individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing are being provided with effective communication during all programs and services;
- Ensure that appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, and specifically tactile interpreters, are made available to all individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing;
- Set aside funding to ensure that auxiliary aids and services are timely provided to clients;
- Ensure its policies and practices are nondiscriminatory, and provide effective communication for people with communication disabilities, including the provision of sign language interpreters;
- Post a notice of the policy in public areas;
- Train staff on the policies.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ndidi N. Moses and Vanessa Roberts Avery, with the assistance of the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of discrimination can file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office at 203-821-3700. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Additional information about the ADA can be found at www.ada.gov, or by calling the Department’s toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301 and (800) 514-0383 (TDD).