Twenty-three years ago this week our nation’s lawmakers established a comprehensive mandate to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities by passing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Department of Justice, is proud to play a critical role in enforcing the ADA and opening up the gateways to full participation and opportunity for people with disabilities. Today, the Department of Justice is working towards a future in which all the doors are open to equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, integration and economic self-sufficiency for all for persons with disabilities.
In honor of the 23rd anniversary of the ADA, every day this week we will celebrate a different gateway that the ADA is opening up to people with disabilities.
Equal opportunity for those with disabilities is a vision that the department hopes will soon extend beyond our nation’s borders. There are over 50 million Americans with disabilities, including 5.5 million veterans living abroad that frequently face barriers when they travel, conduct business, study, live or retire overseas. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities improves protections for persons with disabilities overseas, and allows U.S. accessibility standards to spread through the world. The department continues to play an active role in the quest for U.S. ratification of the Convention to ensure additional gateways open for people with disabilities throughout the world. For more information: www.un.org/disabilities/convention/conventionfull.shtml
Monday: Gateway to Civic Participation
Citizen participation in all aspects of government not only enhances our communities, but defines who we are as a country. Participation may include anything from volunteering in programs to accessing services, to serving on boards and commissions to running for elected office. Ensuring that people with disabilities can participate in all aspects of community life is a priority for the Civil Rights Division. Project Civic Access (PCA) is 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. In the last four years, the division has reached PCA agreements with more than 40 communities of all sizes throughout the country.
Access to the Town Hall and Library in Poestenkill, N.Y.: On July 19, 2013, the United States entered into an agreement with the town of Poestenkill to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities. This agreement is the first to be posted on the Department of Justice’s newly redesigned PCA web page and may be viewed at www.ada.gov/civicac.htm. The web page allows users to identify PCA agreements in two different ways: by geographic location using a clickable map or a state list; and by chronological order.
Under the agreement, the town will remove access barriers at the Town Hall and the Poestenkill Library. The town will also make modifications to its facilities so that parking, routes into the buildings, entrances, public telephones, restrooms and service counters are accessible to people with disabilities. The town is also required to post, publish and distribute a notice to let members of the public know about the ADA and how it applies to the town’s programs, services and activities. The agreement requires the actions to be completed within three years, and the department will actively monitor compliance with the agreement. This agreement is the 207th entered into under the department’s PCA initiative.
To find out more about DOJ’s Project Civic Access, visit www.ada.gov/civicac.htm. For more general information on the Americans with Disabilities Act, visit ADA.gov, or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 (voice) or (800) 514-0383 (TTY).