BOSTON – The U.S. Attorney’s Office entered into a Voluntary Compliance Agreement today with Hudson Public Schools regarding its obligations to ensure effective communication for students with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The agreement addresses how the auxiliary aids and services provisions of the ADA can be used in a school to enable a student with a disability to use remote technology to effectively communicate with other students and teachers and to participate in classroom instruction and other school activities. Specifically, the student had requested to use a “robot” device capable of seeing, hearing and moving around the classroom under the student’s remote control, allowing the student to be able to communicate with teachers and students and participate in interactive classwork.
Per the terms of the agreement, Hudson Public Schools will implement a Disability Equal Opportunity Policy, provide training for staff, and ensure that the school will take appropriate steps to ensure that appropriate auxiliary aids and services are provided, as necessary, for students with disabilities.
“In addition to facts and figures, students learn important social and collaborative skills in the classroom. As new technologies emerge that enable students with disabilities to be able to communicate effectively in classroom discussions and share more fully in those learning experiences, we must ensure that unnecessary and unlawful barriers do not inhibit their ability to fully participate in the classroom environment,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “We commend Hudson Public Schools for the proactive steps they have already taken to meet this goal, including allowing the student to use the auxiliary aid ‘robot,’ and for their cooperation throughout our investigation.”
Among other things, Title II of the ADA requires public entities, such as public schools, to take those steps necessary to ensure that communications with individuals with disabilities are as effective as communications with others, including through the use of auxiliary aids and services. The goal is to afford individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of a service, program or activity of a public entity.
This matter was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Torey Cummings of Lelling’s Civil Rights Unit.
The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-ma/civil-rights.