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Civil Rights & ADA

Americans with Disabilities Act

One of the top priorities of the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa is to protect the civil rights of the citizens of the Northern District of Iowa.

All complaints of civil rights violations are reviewed by the civil rights attorney in the Civil Division. The complaint is then forwarded to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., for review and a final determination for prosecution.

Instances of alleged police misconduct or official misconduct, are forwarded to the local FBI for investigation prior to forwarding to the Civil Rights Division in Washington.

The primary area of civil, civil prosecution in the Northern District of Iowa is Americans with Disabilities Act cases. Other complaints the Northern District has reviewed for referral and prosecution include complaints of violations in the areas of fair housing, civil rights of institutionalized person, and official misconduct.

One of the most comprehensive reviews and resolutions of architectural barriers in a shopping mall in the United States was negotiated through the efforts of the Northern District of Iowa. The Department of Justice signed an agreement resolving a complaint filed against College Square Mall in Cedar Falls, Iowa, by an individual who had difficulty accessing portions of the mall in a wheelchair. More than two-hundred ADA violations were remedied and the former owner agreed to pay a civil penalty of $40,000 to the United States. Articles may be viewed at or

In 2007 and 2010, the Civil Division, was recognized by the Department of Justice with a Certificate of Commendation for “outstanding performance and invaluable assistance in support of the activities of the Civil Rights Division .”

I. Americans with Disabilities Act Web Site

The ADA web site may be accessed at:

The ADA web site is an invaluable and comprehensive source of information that covers compliance with the ADA and includes: a toll-free information line; ADA Publications which includes videos; guidance for businesses and non-profit service providers; guidance for state and local governments; information for law enforcement; instructions on filing a complaint; federal resources; other resources; and the recent amendments to the ADA, including changes made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-325).

II. Community Outreach

A. Project Civic Access (PCA)

In November 2007, the U. S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Iowa conducted a seminar entitled “Project Civic Access: First Steps Toward Solving Common ADA Problems.” The focus of the conference was to introduce attendees to the newly developed PCA Toolkit which is designed to help state and local government voluntarily conduct their own assessment of compliance with the ADA without the need for federal intervention, and ensure equal access to important government programs, services and activities for persons with disabilities.

Numerous attendees have contacted the U. S. Attorney’s office after the conference for assistance with their ADA questions.

B. ADA Voting Compliance

In 2008 and 2012, the U. S. Attorney’s office mailed an informational publication and CD entitled “ADA Checklist for Polling Places” to all counties in the Northern District of Iowa. The publication and CD provided information designed to help ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act to all counties. The checklist was provided to assist counties in discovering and correcting problems at polling places.

C. Access to Emergency Call Centers Using Text Messaging

On August 5, 2009, under a pilot project, the Black HAwk County, Iowa, Consolidated Public Safety Communications Center became the first emergency call center in the nation to accept text messages from cell phones. The ground-breaking service was initiated with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District Iowa. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Wright sent a Short Message Service (SMS) message to the call center during a press conference. This service for text users will particularly benefit people with hearing or speech disabilities enabling them to report an accident or other emergency quickly using their cell phones without having to locate a TTY to report the incident. Learn more about this project at:

III. How to File Complaints

You may file a complaint of potential violations of federal civil rights laws which includes ADA violations by either mailing, faxing, or e-mailing your complaint to us.

Mail, Fax or E-mail Complaints

Click on the following link and complete the form for complaints against state or local government or places of public accommodation.

NDIA Civil Rights Complaint Form

Places of public accommodation include businesses that are generally open to the public and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors’ offices and requires places of public accommodation-as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)-to comply with the ADA Standards.

Mail or fax the completed complaint form to the address below or e-mail the form to:

The form is also available by calling the U.S. Attorney's Office at (319) 363-6333.

United States Attorney
Northern District of Iowa
Civil Rights Division
111 Seventh Avenue SE, Box 1
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401-2101

Fax: (319) 363-1990

ADA Phone: (319) 363-0534

TTY: (319) 286-9258

Updated July 17, 2018

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