PROJECT CIVIC ACCESS AGREEMENT BETWEEN

THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

AND

ARLINGTON COUNTY, VIRGINIA,

UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT


DJ 204-79-252


Settlement Agreement bullet divider Department of Justice Press Releases

BACKGROUND

SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION

The United States Department of Justice (Department) initiated this matter as a voluntary compliance review of Arlington County, Virginia, (County) 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.  The Department did not initiate this matter as a result of a specific complaint of violation of title II by the County.

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:

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:  Barcroft Sports and Fitness Center, Doctor’s Run Park, Westover Park, Powhatan Springs Park, Quincy Park, Arlington Arts Center, Central Library, Virginia Highlands Park, Towers Park, Douglas Park, and Lee Community Center.

The Department’s program access review covered those of the County’s programs, services, and activities that operate in the following facilities:  Clarendon House, Langston-Brown Community Center on Edison Street, William Francis Drewry Center, Madison Center, Glencarlyn Library, Courthouse, Court Square West, Bon Air Park, Penrose Park, RPC Homeless Shelter, Long Branch Nature Center, Woodmont Center, Courthouse Plaza 1, Animal Welfare League, Gateway Park, Thomas Jefferson Community Center, Department of Human Services at 3033 Wilson Boulevard, Langston-Brown Community Center on Culpepper Street, Arlington Visitors Center, Quincy Park, Columbia Pike Library, and Carver Recreation Center.

Finally, the Department reviewed the County’s policies and procedures regarding emergency management and disaster prevention, and sidewalk maintenance to evaluate whether persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to utilize these programs.

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 parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Arlington County, Virginia.

4.     To resolve this matter cooperatively, without further investigation or litigation by the Department, the parties enter into this Agreement.

5.     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 THE COUNTY

6.     The County has a designated ADA Coordinator and a Disability Advisory Commission comprised of interested citizens.

7.     The County has developed a public notice stating that “Arlington County Government is committed to the true spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  We want to ensure that persons with disabilities can access our services, participate in our programs and benefit from all our community resources.  We provide Sign Language Interpreters, Audio amplification systems, Documents in alternate formats, And other accommodations upon request.”  A telephone number, TTY number, mailing address, and e-mail address are provided for questions or requests.

8.     The County has a grievance procedure in place for complaints of discrimination on the basis of disability.  Complaints are submitted in writing, or through other arrangements when requested by the person with a disability, to the ADA Coordinator’s office, which reviews and attempts to resolve the complaint.  Appeals may be made in writing or in an alternate format, and are turned over to the County Manager for decision.

9.     The County conducted a self-evaluation and developed a transition plan in 1992.

10.     The County has a contract with a local sign language interpreter agency and has written procedures available online for County offices to request an interpreter, including procedures for emergency requests.  The County also provides Computer Aided Real-Time Transcription Services through a local reporting agency and has a policy to routinely provide documents in large print and to provide Brailled documents upon request.

11.     The County uses a computer intake system for 9-1-1 calls, so that all 9-1-1 call taking stations can handle TTY calls in the same manner in which they handle non-TTY calls.

12.     The County has a procedure in place for receiving requests from citizens with disabilities, and others, regarding the installation of curb cuts.  The County’s procedure is to complete the installation of needed curb cuts within 30 days of any request received.

13.     The County’s single police station is equipped with a working TTY to enable persons who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have speech impairments to make outgoing telephone calls.

14.     The County started altering facilities in order to come into compliance with the ADA as soon as they got an initial copy of the Department’s proposed Agreement in this matter.

15.     The County has identified vendors that can put documents in Braille and fulfills requests from the public for real-time transcription services and documents in alternate formats (Braille, cassette tapes, etc.).

16.     The County provides text messaging and e-mails to pre-registered individuals to ensure that emergency warning systems are accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

17.     The County solicits input from persons with disabilities regarding the accessibility of its sidewalks, including, for example, requests to add curb cuts at particular locations.

18.     The County provides accessible curb ramps at all intersections having curbs or other barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway, whenever a new street, road, or highway is constructed or altered.

19.     The County provides accessible curb ramps at all newly constructed or altered pedestrian walkways where they intersect a street, road, or highway.

20.     The Arlington County Police Department adopted a policy and procedures for communicating with people who are deaf or hearing-impaired.  The policy and procedures call for, among other things, an initial needs assessment, for qualified interpreters and TTY’s to be available at all times, for confidentiality, and for officer training.

REMEDIAL ACTION

NOTIFICATION

21.     Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will adopt the attached Notice (Attachment A) or will update as needed the public notice mentioned in paragraph 7, above; will distribute it to all agency heads; will publish the notice in a local newspaper of general circulation serving the County; will post the notice on its Internet Home Page; and will 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 six 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 COMMUNICATION PROVISIONS

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

VOTING

24.     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.  If, during the life of this Agreement, the County retains or acquires any responsibilities for voting equipment, voting systems, polling place accessibility, polling-related policies, or polling-related procedures, the County will carry out its responsibilities in accordance with the ADA and other applicable federal laws, including the Help America Vote Act.  This Agreement does not affect the current or future obligations and responsibilities of the County’s Electoral Board and the Office of Voter Registration, nor does this Agreement limit future enforcement action against the County’s Electoral Board and the Office of Voter Registration by the Department.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES AND POLICIES

25.     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.

26.     Within twelve 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 Comprehensive Emergency Management Program (preparation, notification, response, and clean up).

27.     Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that at least one emergency shelter has a back-up generator and a way to keep medications refrigerated (such as a refrigerator or a cooler with ice).  Such shelter(s) will be made available to persons whose disabilities require access to electricity and refrigeration, for example, for using life-sustaining medical devices, providing power to motorized wheelchairs, and preserving certain medications, such as insulin, that require refrigeration.  The written procedures will include a plan for notifying persons of the location of such shelter(s).

28.     Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that persons who use service animals are not separated from their service animals when sheltering during an emergency, even if pets are normally prohibited in shelters.  The procedures will not unnecessarily segregate persons who use service animals from others but may take into account the potential presence of persons who, for safety or health reasons, should not be in contact with certain types of animals.

29.     Some of the County’s emergency shelters may be owned or operated by other public entities subject to title II or by public accommodations subject to title III and, as such, are subject to the obligation to provide program access or remove barriers to accessibility under the ADA.  This Agreement does not limit such future enforcement action against the owners or operators of these facilities by any person or entity, including the Department.

30.     Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement and until all emergency shelters have accessible parking, exterior routes, entrances, interior routes to the shelter area, and toilet rooms serving the shelter area, the County will identify and widely publicize to the public and to persons with disabilities and the organizations that serve them the most accessible emergency shelters.

31.     To the extent that the County provides opportunities for post-emergency temporary housing to its residents, within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, it will develop, implement, and report to the Department its plans for providing equivalent opportunities for accessible post-emergency temporary housing to persons with disabilities.  Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will ensure that information it makes available regarding temporary housing includes information on accessible housing (such as accessible hotel rooms within the community or in nearby communities) that could be used if people with disabilities cannot immediately return home after a disaster if, for instance, necessary accessible features such as ramps or electrical systems have been compromised.

SIDEWALKS

32.     Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will identify all existing records of streets, roads, and highways that have been constructed or altered since January 26, 1992.  Paving, repaving, or resurfacing a street, road, or highway is considered an alteration for the purposes of this Agreement.  Filling a pothole is not considered an alteration for the purposes of this Agreement.  Within three years of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at all intersections of the streets, roads, and highways identified under this paragraph having curbs or other barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway.

33.     The County will continue to provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at any intersection having curbs or other barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway, whenever a new street, road, or highway is constructed or altered.

34.     Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will identify all existing records of street level pedestrian walkways that have been constructed or altered since January 26, 1992.  Paving, repaving, or resurfacing a walkway is considered an alteration for the purposes of this Agreement.  Within three years of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at all places where a street level pedestrian walkway identified under this paragraph intersects with a street, road, or highway.

35.     The County will continue to provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at all newly constructed or altered pedestrian walkways where they intersect a street, road, or highway.

WEB-BASED SERVICES AND PROGRAMS

36.     Within one 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).

37.     Within six 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 people with disabilities to test its pages for ease of use.

PHYSICAL CHANGES TO FACILITIES

38.     The elements or features of the County’s facilities that do not comply with the Standards, including those listed in Attachments I, J, K, and L, 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.  The County’s voluntary execution of this Agreement and its remedial actions do not constitute an admission of discrimination or liability under the law.

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

40.     Within six 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.

41.     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.

42.     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.

43.     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.

PROGRAM MODIFICATIONS

44.     Access to County Programs Housed in Others’ Facilities:  In order to ensure that the County’s programs, services, and activities that are the subject of this Agreement and that are operated by the County at facilities owned or controlled by other entities, when viewed in their entirety, are readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments, the County will take the actions listed in Attachment L.

PROGRAMS FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE

45.     If the County owns or operates any Domestic Violence Programs, within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, it will do the following:

A.     Whatever written information is provided regarding its Domestic Violence Programs will also be provided in alternate formats, including Braille, large print, audio recording, and electronic formats, upon request.

B.     Enter into contracts or make other arrangements with qualified sign language and oral interpreters to ensure their availability when required for effective communication with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.  The type of aid that will be required for effective communication will depend on the individual’s usual method of communication, and the nature, importance, and duration of the communication at issue.  In many circumstances, oral communication supplemented by gestures and visual aids, an exchange of written notes, use of a computer or typewriter, or use of an assistive listening device may be effective.  In other circumstances, qualified sign language or oral interpreters are needed to communicate effectively with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.  The more lengthy, complex, and important the communication, the more likely it is that a qualified interpreter will be required for effective communication with a person whose primary means of communication is sign language or speech reading. 

C.     If the County’s Domestic Violence Programs operate a hotline to take telephone calls of an emergency nature, the County shall ensure that it provides equivalent service for persons who use TTY’s, including providing direct-connection service for TTY users with hotline operators, without requiring TTY users to call through a third party operator, such as through the state or local Telecommunication Relay Services.  The County will obtain the necessary equipment, establish the written procedures, and provide the training necessary to ensure effective communication by Hotline staff with direct-connection callers using TTY’s, as well as the training necessary to respond to callers who use the Telecommunication Relay Services.

D.     Survey facilities used as shelters or designated as potential shelters – or for counseling, job training, education, clothing or household provisioning, or other aspects of Domestic Violence Programs – to ensure that adequate arrangements are available for potential clients and family members with disabilities, including adults and children who have mobility impairments, who are blind or have low vision, and who are deaf or hard of hearing.  Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, modify each such facility to remove the barriers or, alternatively, procure another, fully accessible facility to ensure that potential clients and family members with disabilities have integrated options when participating in a sheltering or other Domestic Violence program.  Nothing in this Agreement requires any modifications that would compromise the confidentiality of a shelter or counseling center.  Until there is a sufficient stock of accessible housing and other facilities within the sheltering program, County will implement written procedures ensuring that it has identified temporary accessible housing (such as accessible hotel rooms within the community or in nearby communities) and other facilities that could be used if people with disabilities need sheltering or inservice access to a Domestic Violence Program.  The cost to potential clients of being housed or otherwise served in alternate accessible facilities shall not exceed any costs normally attributed to clients of County’s Domestic Violence Programs.

E.     Implement written procedures and modify, as appropriate, eligibility criteria, to ensure that no person with a disability is turned away from a shelter or otherwise denied the opportunity to benefit from the services of the County’s Domestic Violence Programs on the basis of disability.

F.     Implement written procedures to ensure that persons with disabilities who use service animals are not denied or discouraged from participating in Domestic Violence Programs, are able to be housed and served in an integrated environment, and are not separated from their service animals while participating in the County’s Domestic Violence Programs even if pets are normally not permitted in the facilities where such programs are conducted.  The procedures will not unnecessarily segregate persons who use service animals from others but may take into account the potential presence of persons who, for safety or health reasons, should not be in contact with certain types of animals.  If the County’s Domestic Violence Programs require clients to make any payments for shelter or other services they provide, clients shall not be required to make additional payments because they or their family members use service animals.

G.     Implement written procedures to ensure that reasonable modifications are made to County’s Domestic Violence Programs when necessary for a client or family member with a disability to participate in such Programs, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the program.

H.     Implement written policies to ensure that despite any “drug-free” policy of County’s Domestic Violence Programs, persons with disabilities who use medication prescribed for their use are able to continue using such medication while participating in such Programs or being housed in a shelter.

46.     If the County contracts with another entity to provide or operate programs that provide shelter, counseling, or other assistance or supportive services to victims of domestic violence or abuse and their families (hereafter referred to as “Domestic Violence Programs”),  it will ensure that the other entity complies with the preceding provisions on its behalf.  If that entity will not comply with the following provisions, the County will nonetheless take all necessary steps to ensure that its program is accessible to persons with disabilities.

47.     Some of the of the County’s shelters may be owned or operated by other public entities subject to title II or by public accommodations subject to title III and, as such, are subject to the obligation to provide program access or remove barriers to accessibility under the ADA.  This Agreement does not limit such future enforcement action against the owners or operators of these facilities by any person or entity, including the Department.

48.     This Agreement shall not be construed to require the County to divulge confidential information relating to the location or existence of any Domestic Violence Programs, beyond what is otherwise required by applicable law or what is necessary for the Department to effectively enforce this Agreement.

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

49.     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.

50.     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).

51.     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.

52.     Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will offer its training program to all County employees who have direct contact with members of the public through a variety of methods:  New Employee Orientation, targeted training for employees who have direct contact with members of the public, and departmental staff meetings.  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(s).

IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

53.     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.

54.     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.

55.     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.

56.     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.

57.     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.

58.     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.

59.     This Agreement will remain in effect for 42 months.

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

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

For Arlington County, Virginia: For the United States:


THE ARLINGTON COUNTY BOARD





By: _____________________________

RON CARLEE, County Manager
2100 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201












WAN J. KIM,
Assistant Attorney General




By: _____________________________

JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
JEANINE WORDEN, Deputy Chief
MARY LOU MOBLEY, Acting Deputy Chief
NAOMI MILTON, Supervisory Attorney
ELIZABETH BACON, Supervisory Attorney
AMELIA M. EDUARDO, Investigator
MARK J. MAZZ, Architect
THOMAS FODOR, Architect
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NYA
Washington, DC 20530



Date: ___________________________
Date:     3/30/06    









     

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June 12, 2006