United States Attorney’s Office Supports Advocacy Day for Access and Independence
Columbia, South Carolina---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that in its continued efforts to support the commitments in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the U.S. Attorney’s Office participated in Advocacy Day for Access and Independence 2018 this past week.
This annual event was led by Able SC, which is a Center for Independent Living organization, whose mission includes empowering people with disabilities to live active and self-determined lives. There were several speakers on the State House grounds for the April 25, 2018 event including members of the SC General Assembly, various SC Departments, disability advocates, non-profit entities, and members of the disability community. Support groups from around the state participated and hundreds of people attended the event.
Assistant United States Attorney Rob Sneed participated on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. AUSA Sneed is one of two prosecutors in the US Attorney’s Office whose practice is largely civil rights enforcement. AUSA Sneed focused his remarks on the Department of Justice’s Project Civic Access (PCA). Access to civic life is a fundamental part of American society and The ADA requires that state and local governments be accessible to people with disabilities. PCA a wide-ranging effort to ensure that counties, cities, towns, and villages comply with the ADA by eliminating physical and communication barriers that prevent people with disabilities from participating fully in community life. The Department of Justice has conducted reviews across the entire country, in all fifty states, territories, and the District of Columbia. It has resulted in hundreds of settlement agreements for communities to come into ADA compliance. These agreements are tailored to address the steps each community must take to improve access. PCA agreements typically include requirements to make physical modifications to facilities so that, among other elements, parking, routes into buildings, entrances, assembly areas, restrooms, service counters, and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities. Other common provisions address effective communication (e.g., telephone communications), grievance procedures, polling places, emergency management procedures and policies, sidewalks, domestic violence programs, and ensuring that an entity’s official website and other web-based services are accessible to persons with disabilities.
In South Carolina, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Department of Justice have conducted several reviews of local and state governmental ADA compliance since 1994, resulting in several agreements with all levels of local government. AUSA Sneed said that these ADA reviews in South Carolina have generally been positive and most governmental entities have responded cooperatively. He further noted that the majority of officials are aware of their ADA obligations and have made progress in meeting them. The work is ongoing however, and barriers remain for people in the disabled community.
U.S. Attorney Drake noted that, “Thank you to all of our South Carolina officials who are committed to providing equal access to all residents and visitors with disabilities. These officials have positively impacted the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities through Project Civic Access. As a result of their commitment and that of the trial attorneys in our office and at the Department of Justice, the injustice of being denied access to government buildings or participating in government programs, services, and activities is becoming a thing of the past for Americans with disabilities.”