EDVA Reminds Community Partners That the Americans With Disabilities Act Applies to COVID-19 Related Services
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced today that it will be providing the attached Dear Colleague Letter reminding community partners that are involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response that the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) applies to their services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe and distressing impact on people with disabilities, who, through no fault of their own, have faced additional barriers due to the public health crisis,” said Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We will vigorously pursue justice on behalf of those who are not provided equal access because of their disability. It is absolutely critical that COVID-19 resources, including vaccines and testing, are implemented in a manner that ensures individuals with disabilities are not subjected to discrimination and are able to access those services.”
The Dear Colleague Letter explains that ADA “considerations may include: whether registration systems and websites are available to individuals who have vision or hearing disabilities; whether facilities selected as vaccine or COVID-19 testing sites are accessible to people with mobility disabilities; and whether there is effective communication for people with disabilities in conveying information about such services.”
The Dear Colleague Letter includes links to numerous federal publications that provide a detailed discussion of the ADA’s requirements, including publications on ADA.gov. The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a technical assistance document titled “ADA Checklist for Polling Places,” which may serve as a helpful guide to states and municipalities in selecting vaccination sites, as well as providing temporary remedies to ensure that vaccination programs are accessible to people with disabilities. Like polling places, vaccination sites often have another primary use (such as a gym or community center), so the considerations for their selection and the methods used for ensuring their accessibility are applicable. The Dear Colleague Letter also includes links to additional resources and publications provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, through its Civil Rights Enforcement (“CRE”) Unit, in partnership with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, vigorously enforces a variety of federal statutes that prohibit discrimination, including the ADA, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974. EDVA’s CRE Unit also enforces the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994.
For more information on the ADA, visit ADA.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.