WASHINGTON, June 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Justice Department today announced an agreement with Lancaster County, Pa., to improve access to 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).
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 178th under the PCA initiative.
"This agreement will ensure that individuals with disabilities in Lancaster County will have improved access to their county court system and other critical aspects of civic life," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Civil Rights Division. "I commend officials from Lancaster County for making this commitment to its residents with disabilities. The time for all local governments throughout the country to commit to achieving full ADA compliance is long overdue as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of this landmark civil rights law in July."
Under the agreement announced today, Lancaster County will take several important steps to improve access for individuals with disabilities, such as:
- Make physical modifications to its facilities so that parking, routes into the buildings, entrances, public telephones, restrooms, service counters and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities. The agreement specifies which modifications will be made at each facility.
- Provide increased access to county court proceedings by constructing two fully accessible district justice offices, centrally located within the county, within one year of the effective date of this agreement.
- Post, publish and distribute a notice to inform members of the public of the provisions of title II and their applicability to the county's programs, services and activities.
- Appoint an ADA coordinator to coordinate the county's effort to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under the ADA.
- Adopt a grievance procedure to handle grievances submitted under the ADA.
- Develop a policy regarding auxiliary aids and services for use in the Lancaster County courthouse and magistrates' offices, purchase assistive listening systems, train personnel in the set-up, use, and maintenance of the system, and post notices notifying patrons of the availability of the system.
- Pay $1,000 to a military veteran who filed a complaint with the Justice Department alleging that he was denied access to the court system because of physical barriers and the lack of an assistive listening system at court facilities.
Located in southeast Pennsylvania, Lancaster County was formed on May 10, 1729. It has a total area of 984 square miles and an estimated population of approximately 490,000. Lancaster County is a popular tourist destination.
Today's settlement agreement was reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments. The agreement requires that the specified actions be completed within 3 years. The department will monitor compliance with the agreement, and it will remain in effect until the department has confirmed that all required actions have been completed.
People interested in finding out more about the ADA, today's agreement with Lancaster County, the Project Civic Access initiative, or the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments can access the ADA Web page at www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).
SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice