July, 2011

Justice Department Signs Agreement with Van Buren County, Arkansas, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

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Justice Department Signs Agreement with Van Buren County, Arkansas, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

Jul 8 2011

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced an agreement with Van Buren County, Ark., to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities. The agreement was reached under Project Civic Access (PCA), the department’s wide-ranging initiative to ensure that cities, towns and counties throughout the country comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“Individuals with disabilities must have access to public facilities, programs, services and activities in order to participate equally in civic life,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “I commend Van Buren County officials for making this commitment to its residents with disabilities by agreeing to come into voluntary compliance with the ADA.”

PCA was initiated to ensure that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in civic life, a fundamental part of American society. As part of the PCA initiative, Justice Department investigators, attorneys and architects survey state and local government facilities, services and programs in communities across the country to identify the modifications needed for compliance with ADA requirements. The agreements are tailored to address the steps each community must take to improve access. This agreement is the 190th under the PCA initiative. According to census data, more than 28 percent of Van Buren County residents have a disability and will benefit from this agreement.

Under the agreement announced today, Van Buren County, Ark., will take several important steps to improve access for individuals with disabilities, such as:

Making physical modifications to facilities surveyed by the department so that parking, routes into buildings, entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, public telephones and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities; surveying other facilities and programs and making modifications wherever necessary to achieve full compliance with ADA requirements; posting, publishing and distributing a notice to inform members of the public of the provisions of Title II of the ADA and their applicability to the county’s programs, services and activities; training county staff in using the Arkansas Relay Service as a key means of communicating with individuals who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing or have speech disabilities; undertaking the required planning and modifications to ensure equal, integrated access to emergency management for individuals with disabilities, including emergency preparedness, notification, evacuation, sheltering, response, clean up and recovery; ensuring that the county’s official website and other web-based services are accessible to people with disabilities; developing a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the county’s accessible services, activities and programs; installing signs at any inaccessible entrance to a facility directing individuals with disabilities to an accessible entrance or to information about accessing programs and services at other accessible facilities; and implementing a comprehensive plan to improve the accessibility of sidewalks, transportation stops and pedestrian crossings by installing accessible curb ramps throughout Van Buren County.
Today’s agreement was reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments. The agreement will remain in effect for three years from June 28, 2011, or until all actions required by the agreement have been completed, whichever is later. The department will actively monitor compliance with the agreement until all required actions have been completed.

People interested in finding out more about the ADA, today’s agreement with Van Buren County, Ark., the PCA initiative, or the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments can access the ADA website at www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY). A copy of the agreement is available at: www.ada.gov/van_buren_pca/van-buren_sa.htm.

Source: Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs