The U.S. Department of Justice announced recently that it settled claims alleging failure to comply with Title II of the ADA with Des Moines, Iowa, the 188th settlement under its Project Civic Access initiative. Title II prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments and has very specific requirements to ensure that programs and services are accessible to individuals with disabilities. For example, a government entity must conduct a self-evaluation of its services, policies, and practices; notify applicants, participants, beneficiaries, and other interested persons of their rights and the city’s obligations under Title II and the Department’s regulation; designate a responsible employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out the city’s ADA responsibilities; establish a grievance procedure for resolving complaints of violations of Title II; and operate each program, service, or activity so that, when viewed in its entirety, it is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.
The Department of Justice has been doing compliance reviews as part of its Project Civic Access since 1999. In addition to physical access, the compliance reviews focus on access to such services as 9-1-1 emergency calling, websites and web-based services. The Department stated that it initiates most of the compliance reviews and that, in selecting a municipality for review, proximity of a university or tourist attraction has sometimes been a factor.
The settlement agreements are available on the DOJ’s website.