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Brian Luke Community Blogger, WGRZ-TV

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Justice Department Signs Agreement with the City of Humboldt, Kansas, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Justice Department Signs Agreement with the City of Humboldt, Kansas, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department today announced an agreement with the city of Humboldt, Kan., to improve access to all aspects of civic life for individuals 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). The department has now reached 197 agreements under the PCA initiative, improving access to civic life for more than four million individuals with disabilities nationwide.   According to census data, the city population is just under 2,000, and just over 21 percent of Humboldt residents have a disability.

“Individuals with disabilities must have the opportunity to participate in civic life in every city, town and county in the country, no matter how large or small, and this agreement represents another positive step forward,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “We applaud Humboldt officials for their commitment to improving access for all residents and visitors with disabilities to the full range of city programs, activities, services and facilities.”

“Kansans with disabilities have much to contribute,” said Barry Grissom, U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas.  “This agreement will help remove the barriers that prevent them from participating fully in community life.  I am pleased this matter was resolved without protracted litigation.”

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.

Under the agreement announced today, Humboldt officials will take several important steps to improve access for individuals with disabilities, such as:
  • Making physical modifications to its facilities so that parking, routes into the buildings, entrances, service areas and counters, restrooms, locker rooms and drinking fountains are accessible to persons with disabilities. The agreement specifies which modifications will be made at each facility.
  • Surveying other facilities and programs and making modifications wherever necessary to achieve full compliance with ADA requirements.
  • Implementing a comprehensive plan to improve the accessibility of the city’s sidewalks, transportation stops and pedestrian crossings by installing accessible curb ramps throughout the city.
  • Ensuring that buildings and outdoor facilities that will be built or altered by or on behalf of the city comply with the ADA’s architectural requirements.
  • Officially recognizing the Kansas telephone relay service as a key means of communicating with individuals who are deaf, are hard-of-hearing, or have speech impairments and training staff in using the relay service for telephone communications.
  • 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 city’s programs, services and activities.
  • Ensuring that the city’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 city’s accessible services, activities and programs.
  • 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 .
Today’s agreement was reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments.   The department will actively monitor compliance with today’s agreement, which will remain in effect for three years from Feb. 8, 2012, or until the department has confirmed that all required actions have been completed, whichever is later.  

People interested in finding out more about the ADA, today’s agreement, 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).

The agreement with the City of Humboldt is available athttp://www.ada.gov/humboldt_KS_pca/humboldt_KS_sa.htm.

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