SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN

 

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

AND

 

ADA COUNTY, IDAHO

 

UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT

 

DJ 204-22-62

 

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

   SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION

 

            The United States Department of Justice (Department) initiated this matter as a compliance review of Ada County, Idaho, under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the Department’s implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35.  Because the County receives financial assistance from the Department of Justice, the review was also conducted under the authority of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the Department’s implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G.

 

            The review was conducted by the Disability Rights Section of the Department’s Civil Rights Division and focused on the County’s compliance with the following title II requirements:

 

C           to conduct a self-evaluation of its services, policies, and practices by July 26, 1992, and make modifications necessary to comply with the Department’s title II regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.105;

 

C           to notify applicants, participants, beneficiaries, and other interested persons of their rights and the County’s obligations under title II and the Department’s regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.106;

 

C           to designate a responsible employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out the County’s ADA responsibilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.107(a);

 

C           to establish a grievance procedure for resolving complaints of violations of title II, 28 C.F.R. § 35.107(b);

 

C           to operate each program, service, or activity so that, when viewed in its entirety, it is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.150, by:

 

        C       delivery of services, programs, or activities in alternate ways, including, for example, redesign of equipment, reassignment of services, assignment of aides, home visits, or other methods of compliance or, if these methods are not effective in making the programs accessible,

 

        C       physical changes to buildings (required to have been made by January 26, 1995), in accordance with the Department’s title II regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.151, and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards), 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, App. A, or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), 41 C.F.R. § 101-19.6, App. A.

 

C           to ensure that facilities for which construction or alteration was begun after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, in accordance with 1) the Department’s title II regulation and 2) the Standards or UFAS, 28 C.F.R. § 35.151;

 

C           to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others, including furnishing auxiliary aids and services when necessary, 28 C.F.R. § 35.160;

 

C           to provide direct access via TTY (text telephone) or computer-to-telephone emergency services, including 9-1-1 services, for persons who use TTY’s and computer modems, 28 C.F.R. § 35.162;

 

C           to provide information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the County’s accessible services, activities, and facilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(a); and

 

C           to provide signage at all inaccessible entrances to each of its facilities, directing users to an accessible entrance or to information about accessible facilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(b).

 

            As part of its compliance review, the Department reviewed the following facilities,  which – because construction or alterations commenced after January 26, 1992 – must comply with the ADA’s new construction or alterations requirements: Ada County Courthouse, Western Idaho Fairgrounds, Juvenile Detention Center, Juvenile Services, and Juvenile Court Services.

 

            The Department’s program access review covered those of the County’s programs, services, and activities that operate in the following facilities: Coroner’s Office, Emergency Medical Services Main Office and adjacent response station, Extension Office, Western Idaho Fairgrounds, Juvenile Detention Center, Juvenile Court Services West, the Landfill, Department of Motor Vehicles - Chinden, Noxious Weed and Pest Control, Public Safety Complex, Women’s Detention Unit, and the Work Release Center.

 

            Finally, the Department reviewed the County’s Sheriff’s Department’s policies and procedures regarding providing effective communication to persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

 

JURISDICTION

 

1.         The ADA applies to the County because it is a “public entity” as defined by title II.  42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).

 

2.         The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to determine the compliance of the County with title II of the ADA and the Department's title II implementing regulation, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements.  Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F.

 

3.         The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G, to determine the County’s compliance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements.  Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 29 U.S.C. § 794 and 28 C.F.R. §§ 42.530 and 42.108-110, to suspend or terminate financial assistance to the County provided by the Department of Justice should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart G or to bring a civil suit to enforce the rights of the United States under applicable federal, state, or local law.

 

4.         The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Ada County, Idaho.

 

5.         Although Ada County admits no violation of any applicable provision of the ADA, and because it is in full support of the goals of the ADA to make county governmental services accessible to all individuals to the fullest extent possible and to avoid the burdens and expenses of any further investigation and possible litigation might bring to taxpayers of Ada County, the parties enter into this Agreement.

 

6.         In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit in this matter regarding all matters contained within this Agreement, except as provided in the section entitled “Implementation and Enforcement.”

 

ACTIONS TAKEN BY COUNTY

 

7.         In April, 1992, an ADA Steering Committee was established.

 

8.         In April, 1992, the position of ADA Coordinator was established.  At present, the County has two employees serving as ADA Coordinator.

 

9.         In 1992, an individual with a disability was appointed as an independent consultant for ADA issues.

 

10.       In 1993, Ada County Resolution #735 was passed for ADA Reasonable Accommodations and Grievance Procedures.  The Grievance Procedure serves to handle disability-related complaints from the public.

 

11.       In 1993, the County began structural barrier removal according to their Transition Plan.

 

12.       The County has required and continues to require new County owned facilities to be ADA compliant.      

 

13.       Personnel policies and procedures have been revised and created to be ADA compliant. 

 

14.       In 2004, the County provided ADA awareness training for its employees by the Executive Director of the Idaho Task Force on the ADA.

 

15.       The County ADA Coordinators attended the National Symposium and Expo in 2004.

 

16.       The County has an Effective Communications Policy that provides for sign language interpreters and assistive listening devices for court proceedings, County Commissioners meetings, and in-person interactions.  The County also has a TTY available for public use and signs posted to alert the public as to the availability of these services.

 

17.       The County is proactive in keeping current with the ADA Standards.  Before the Department initiated its review, the County was in the process of updating its Transition Plan and had conducted its own review of its facilities.

 

18.       The County has consulted persons with disabilities and groups representing them n determining how to provide services in a manner that meets the needs of persons with disabilities.

 

19.       The County Elections Board has met with persons with disabilities and groups representing them to improve access to voting for persons with disabilities.

 

20.       The County provides curb-side voting at all polling places as a means of giving access to disabled citizens to cast their ballots.

 

REMEDIAL ACTION

 

NOTIFICATION

 

21.       Within two months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will adopt the attached Notice (Attachment A); distribute it to all agency heads; publish the Notice in a local newspaper of general circulation serving the County; post the Notice on its Internet Home Page; and post copies in conspicuous locations in its public buildings.  It will refresh the posted copies, and update the contact information contained on the Notice, as necessary, for the life of this Agreement.  Copies will also be provided to any person upon request.

 

22.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, and on yearly anniversaries of this Agreement until it expires, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the County’s accessible programs, services, and activities.

                                   

GENERAL EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS PROVISIONS

 

23.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will identify sources of qualified oral interpreters, real-time transcription services, and vendors that can put documents in Braille, and will implement and report to the Department its written procedures, with time frames, for fulfilling requests from the public for sign language or oral interpreters, real-time transcription services, and documents in alternate formats (Braille, large print, cassette tapes, etc.).

 

24.       The County will take steps to ensure that all appropriate employees are trained and practiced in using the Idaho Relay Service to make and receive calls.

           

              LAW ENFORCEMENT AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS

 

25.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will adapt for its own use and implement the Ada County Sheriff’s Office Policy Statement on Effective Communication with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing [Attachment C] and distribute to all sheriff department officers the Guide for Law Enforcement Officers When in Contact with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing [Attachment D].

 

26.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will contract with one or more local qualified oral/sign language interpreter agencies to ensure that the interpreting services will be available on a priority basis, twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week, to its sheriff department or make other appropriate arrangements (such as contracting directly with or hiring qualified interpreters).

 

27.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will ensure that each sheriff station and each jail/detention facility is equipped with a working TTY to enable persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have speech impairments to make outgoing telephone calls.  Where inmate telephone calls are time-limited, the County will adopt policies permitting inmates who use TTY’s a longer period of time to make those calls, due to the slower nature of TTY communications compared with voice communications.

 

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES AND POLICIES

 

28.       If the County contracts with another entity, such as the American Red Cross or another local government, to provide its emergency preparedness plans and emergency response services, the County will ensure that the other entity complies with the following provisions on its behalf.

 

29.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that it regularly solicits and incorporates input from persons with a variety of disabilities and those who serve them regarding all phases of its emergency management plan (preparation, notification, response, and clean up).

 

30.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that its community evacuation plans enable those who have mobility impairments, vision impairments, hearing impairments, cognitive disabilities, mental illness, or other disabilities to safely self-evacuate or be evacuated by others.  Some communities are instituting voluntary, confidential registries of persons with disabilities who may need individualized evacuation assistance or notification.  If the County adopts or maintains such a registry, its report to the Department will discuss its procedures for ensuring voluntariness, appropriate confidentiality controls, and how the registry will be kept updated, as well as its outreach plan to inform persons with disabilities of its availability.  Whether or not a registry is used, the County plan should address accessible transportation needs for persons with disabilities.

 

31.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that if its emergency warning systems use sirens or other audible alerts, it will also provide ways to inform persons with hearing impairments of an impending disaster.  The use of auto-dialed TTY messages to pre-registered individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, text messaging, e-mails, open-captioning on local TV stations and other innovative uses of technology may be incorporated into such procedures, as well as lower-tech options such as dispatching qualified sign language interpreters to assist with emergency TV broadcasts.

 

WEB-BASED SERVICES AND PROGRAMS

 

32.       Within 1 month of the effective date of this Agreement, and on subsequent anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will distribute to all persons – employees and contractors – who design, develop, maintain, or otherwise have responsibility for content and format of its website(s) or third party websites used by the County (Internet Personnel) the technical assistance document, “Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities,” which is Attachment H to this Agreement (it is also available at www.ada.gov/websites2.htm).

 

33.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, and throughout the life of the Agreement, the County will do the following:

 

A.        Establish, implement, and post online a policy that its web pages will be accessible and create a process for implementation;

 

B.        Ensure that all new and modified web pages and content are accessible;

 

C.        Develop and implement a plan for making existing web content more accessible;

 

D.        Provide a way for online visitors to request accessible information or services by posting a telephone number or e-mail address on its home page; and

 

E.         Periodically (at least annually) enlist persons with disabilities to test its pages for ease of use.

 

PHYSICAL CHANGES TO FACILITIES

 

34.       The elements or features of the County’s facilities that do not comply with the Standards, including those listed in Attachments I, J, and K, prevent persons with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying the County’s services, programs, or activities and constitute discrimination on the basis of disability within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. § 12132 and 28 C.F.R. §§ 35.149 and 35.150.

 

35.       The County will comply with the cited provisions of the Standards when taking the actions required by this Agreement.

 

36.       Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will install signage as necessary to comply with 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(b), after having surveyed all facilities that are the subject of this Agreement for the purpose of identifying those that have multiple entrances not all of which are accessible.

 

37.       Newly Constructed Facilities:  In order to ensure that the spaces and elements in County facilities for which construction was commenced after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, the County will take the actions listed in Attachment I.

 

38.       Altered Facilities:  In order to ensure that the spaces and elements in County facilities for which alterations commenced after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, the County will take the actions listed in Attachment J.

 

39.       Program Access in Existing Facilities:  In order to ensure that each of the County’s programs, services, and activities operating at a facility that is the subject of this Agreement, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments, the County will take the actions listed in Attachment K.

 

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

 

40.       Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, at yearly anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement until it expires, the County will submit written reports to the Department summarizing the actions the County has taken pursuant to this Agreement.  Reports will include detailed photographs showing measurements, architectural plans, work orders, notices published in the newspaper, copies of adopted policies, and proof of efforts to secure funding/assistance for structural renovations or equipment.

 

41.       Throughout the life of this Agreement, consistent with 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(a), the County will maintain the accessibility of its programs, activities, services, facilities, and equipment, and will take whatever actions are necessary (such as routine testing of accessibility equipment and routine accessibility audits of its programs and facilities) to do so.  This provision does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs.  28 C.F.R. § 35.133(b).

 

42.       Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will develop or procure a two-hour training program on the requirements of the ADA and appropriate ways of serving persons with disabilities.  The County will use the ADA technical assistance materials developed by the Department and will consult with interested persons, including individuals with disabilities, in developing or procuring the ADA training program.

 

43.       Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will deliver its training program to all County employees who have direct contact with members of the public.  At the end of that period, the County will submit a copy of its training curriculum and materials to the Department, along with a list of employees trained and the name, title, and address of the trainer.

 

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

 

44.       If at any time the County desires to modify any portion of this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible or impractical or for any other reason, it will promptly notify the Department in writing, setting forth the facts and circumstances thought to justify modification and the substance of the proposed modification.  Until there is written Agreement by the Department to the proposed modification, the proposed modification will not take effect.  These actions must receive the prior written approval of the Department, which approval will not be unreasonably withheld or delayed.

 

45.       The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time.  If the Department believes that the County has failed to comply in a timely manner with any requirement of this Agreement without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for a modification of the relevant terms, the Department will so notify the County in writing and it will attempt to resolve the issue or issues in good faith.  If the Department is unable to reach a satisfactory resolution of the issue or issues raised within 30 days of the date it provides notice to the County, it may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement, or it may initiate appropriate steps to enforce title II and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

 

46.       For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for the County to fail to comply in a timely manner with any of its requirements without obtaining sufficient advance written agreement with the Department for an extension of the relevant time frame imposed by the Agreement.

 

47.       Failure by the Department to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with regard to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of the Department's right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.

 

48.       This Agreement is a public document.  A copy of this document or any information contained in it will be made available to any person by the County or the Department on request.

 

49.       This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement (including its Attachments, which are hereby incorporated by reference), will be enforceable.  This Agreement does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or any other federal law.  This Agreement does not affect the County’s continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

 

50.       This Agreement does not address the accessibility of voting equipment or voting systems, including polling place accessibility, or any modifications to polling-related policies and procedures that may be necessary to ensure access for persons with disabilities.

 

51.       While recognizing that Settlement Agreements such as this are generally effective for three years, the parties also recognize that Ada County is subject to Art. 8, Sec. 3 of the Idaho Constitution, which prohibits multi-year agreements.  Therefore, this Agreement shall be effective upon execution by the parties and shall be effective through September 30, 2005, and shall be renewed for two additional one-year terms subject to the continued applicability of the ADA, appropriation of funds by the Board of Ada County Commissioners, and the mutual consent of the parties. The County recognizes its obligation to be in compliance with the relevant portions of the ADA and will take such obligation into consideration in appropriating funds necessary for the continued compliance by the County with this Agreement.

 

52.       The person signing for the County represents that he or she is authorized to bind the County to this Agreement.

 

53.       The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

 

 

 

 For the County:

 

Board of Ada County Commissioners

 

 

 

By: ____________________________

      Rick Yzaguirre, Commissioner

 

 

 

By: ____________________________

      Judy M. Peavey-Derr, Commissioner

 

 

 

By: ____________________________

      Fred Tilman, Commissioner

 

 

 

Date:  ___________________________ 

     For the United States:

 

     Bradley J. Schlozman,

     Acting Assistant Attorney General

     Civil Rights Division

 

By:_____________________________                    

     JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief

     JEANINE WORDEN, Deputy Chief

     MARY LOU MOBLEY, Senior Counsel

     NAOMI H. MILTON, Supervisory Attorney

     AMELIA M. EDUARDO, Investigator

     MARK J. MAZZ, Architect

     U.S. Department of Justice

     Civil Rights Division

     950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

     Disability Rights Section - NYA

     Washington, DC 20530

 

 

 

Date:  ______________________________ 

 

 

 

September 8, 2009