SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND
MARYLAND NATIONAL CAPITAL PARK AND PLANNING COMMISSION
UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION
The United States Department of Justice (Department) initiated this matter as a compliance review of Montgomery County, Maryland, under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134 (title II), and the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35. Because the County receives financial assistance from the Department, 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:
- 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;
- 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;
- 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);
- to establish a grievance procedure for resolving complaints of violations of title II, 28 C.F.R. § 35.107(b);
- 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. §̀§ 35.149 - 35.150, by:
- 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,
- 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. §§̀ 35.150 and 35.151, and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards), 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, App. A (2010), or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), 41 C.F.R. § 101-19.6, App. A.
- 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;
- 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;
- to provide direct access via TTY (text telephone) or computer-to-telephone emergency services, including 9-1-1 services, for persons who use TTYs and computer modems, 28 C.F.R. § 35.162;
- 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
- 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:
Newly Constructed Facilities
Burtonsville Volunteer Fire Department - Station 15
East County Community Center
Eastern Montgomery Regional Center
Parking Garage # 60
Round House Theater Education Center
Martin Luther King, Jr., Pool / Swim Center
Bethesda Chevy Chase Regional Services Center
Long Branch Senior Center
Black Rock Center for the Arts
Rockville Public Library
Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department
Gwendolyn E. Coffield Community Center
Betty Ann Krahnke Shelter
Quince Orchard Library
Sandy Spring Fire Department
Damascus Community Center
Germantown Indoor Swim Center
Montgomery County Correctional Facility
Men's Emergency Shelter
Dennis Avenue Health Center
Dennis Avenue Health Center Supply Building
Long Branch Library
Garage # 11
The Department's program access review covered those of the County's programs, services, and activities that operate in the following facilities:
Merrimac Neighborhood Park
Capitol View - Homewood Local Park
Stratton Local Park
Ken-Gar Palisades Park
Rock Creek Hills Local Park
Kensington Cabin Local Park
Children's Resource Center
Newport Mill Park
Pleasant View Park
Silver Spring Health and Human Services - Regional Center
Noyes Library for Children
Mid-County Regional Services Center
5th District Police Station - Germantown
Damascus Childcare Center
Damascus Senior Center
Montgomery Aquatic Center
Mental Health – 751 Twinbrook Parkway Building
2nd District Police Station – Bethesda
Leland Community Center
Chevy Chase Library
Burning Tree Park
Silver Spring Library
Plum Gar Community Center
Avery Road Facility
Lawrence Court House
Piccard Drive Department of Health and Human Services
3rd District Police Station - Silver Spring
Kensington Park Library
Holiday Park Senior Center
Bauer Drive Community Center
Red Brick Courthouse
Cabin John Local Park
Long Branch Pool
Takoma - Piney Branch Local Park
Executive Office Building
Potomac Community Center
Ayrlawn Local Park
Hungerford Office Building
Seven Locks Local Park
Avery Road 701
Avery House 705
Longwood Community Center
Olney Swim Center
Council Office Building Garage
Argyle Recreation Center & Local Park
Parking Garage #7
Kensington Volunteer Fire Department Station 25
Wheaton Regional Library
Clara Barton Community Center
Council Office Building
Upcounty Regional Services Center
Garage # 49
Juvenile Assessment Center
6th District Police Station - Montgomery Village
Department of Correction & Rehabilitation
TESS Community Center
Developmental Disabilities Services
Piccard Drive Health Center
Community Based Shelter
The Department also conducted a program access review of the following facilities that are designated as emergency shelters:
Springbrook High School
John F. Kennedy High School
Sherwood High School
Watkins Mill High School
Walt Whitman High School
Damascus High School
Seneca Valley High School
Walter Johnson High School
Rockville High School
Gaithersburg High School
This review was limited to the areas of the facilities used by members of the public during an emergency: parking, the route from the parking area to the area used as a shelter, the area used as a shelter, and toilet facilities serving that area.
The Department reviewed the County's policies and procedures regarding voting, emergency management and disaster prevention, and sidewalk maintenance to evaluate whether persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to utilize these programs.
Finally, the Department reviewed the Montgomery County Department of Police's policies and procedures regarding providing effective communication to persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
- The ADA applies to the County because it is a "public entity" as defined by title II. 42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).
- 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.
- 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.
- The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and Montgomery County, Maryland; and the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC).
- In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of an investigation and possible litigation, the parties enter into this Agreement.
- 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."
- Self Evaluation and Transition Plan. The County completed its self-evaluation and developed a transition plan for compliance with the ADA in 1993. The process included a survey of 181 buildings and other facilities and a review of the County's policies, programs, services, and activities. The transition plan was completed in 2001 and expenditures for accessibility improvements to County buildings totaled $3.94 million. In 2010, in order to ensure that its facilities and programs are in compliance with title II of the ADA, the County established an ongoing level-of-effort project adopted under the County's Six Year Capital Improvements Program (CIP). An ADA Team, supervised by the County's ADA Compliance Manager, was created in the County's Department of General Services to coordinate all aspects of ADA compliance, both facility- and policy-related. Through this program, the County has established a process intended to ensure compliance of all of its future new construction and alterations. This process includes a third party pre-construction ADA compliance review and post-construction compliance survey.
- ADA Coordinator. The County designated an ADA Compliance Manager in 1991. The Compliance Manager is responsible for the County's ADA Grievance Process, and works to ensure that County departments comply with its commitment for accessibility by providing technical assistance to departments and disability awareness for staff.
- Input from Persons with Disabilities. The County's Commission on People with Disabilities (CPWD) was established by County legislation in 1978 to advise the County Executive, County Council, and Department Directors on the needs and concerns of the County's residents with disabilities. The CPWD provides testimony on County budgets and proposed changes in legislation, and makes recommendations on County policies and programs. Other County commissions and boards, including the Mental Health Advisory Committee, the Disability Resource Center Library Advisory Committee, the Taxicab Advisory Board, and the Adult Public Guardianship Review Board have membership requirements to ensure representation from the disability community.
- ADA Notice. The County has adopted the attached Notice (Attachment A) and posted the Notice on its website and in its facilities.
- Employment. It is Montgomery County's policy to be an equal opportunity employer, committed to workforce diversity. The County's Equal Employment Opportunity Officer and staff respond to employment discrimination complaints. The County's Disability Program Manager handles the reasonable accommodation process. In 2007, the County established a Customized Employment Intern program to provide persons with disabilities flexible, paid work opportunities and the job experience necessary to compete for permanent merit positions. In 2010, the County enacted legislation establishing an affirmative action hiring preference for applicants with disabilities who are ranked, through the competitive hiring process, in the highest rated category for a County merit position.
- Internal Grievance Procedure. The County has adopted the attached internal ADA Grievance Procedure (Attachment B).
- Sidewalk Accessibility. In 1991, as part of the County's ADA transition plan, the County developed an ongoing Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to install curb ramps on existing sidewalks. As the result, the County has installed many ramps and other accessibility improvements for existing sidewalks servicing County facilities and schools, central business districts, and residential communities. The CIP now funds the installation of detectable warnings on curbs, replacement of older sidewalks and curb ramps, and other accessibility improvements in the public right of way. It has been the County's policy since 1992 that all new construction of sidewalks and curb cuts would be completed in accordance with the ADA Standards. In 2006, the County updated its guidelines for pedestrian facilities, incorporating the recommendations from the U.S. Access Board's draft Public Right of Way document. The County has implemented a process for soliciting and receiving input from persons with disabilities regarding the accessibility of its sidewalks.
- Bus Stop Accessibility. In 2006, the County began a six year, $11 million Bus Stop Safety Capital Improvement Project designed to ensure that all 5,400 bus stops in Montgomery County are accessible for people with disabilities, provide a safe location to wait for the bus, and an accessible pathway to get to and from the bus stop.
- Effective Communication. The County has identified sources of qualified sign language and oral interpreters, and these services are available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. The County has identified real time transcription services and vendors to provide translation and production of Braille documents from text. The County is committed to captioning its cable programming. Each of the County's police stations, the detention facility, and the Montgomery County Correctional Facility are equipped with a working TTY.
- Training. Since 1991, the County has regularly presented training programs covering the requirements of title II of the ADA; appropriate ways of serving persons with disabilities; and the reasonable accommodation process. The County's Office of Human Resources incorporates ADA employment requirements into the management training classes covering human resources topics, including selecting, hiring, and managing employees. In 2010, the County developed a training program for County staff on inclusive emergency sheltering presented by County managers and members of the County's Emergency Preparedness Advisory Panel. To date, over 150 staff have completed the training. The County developed and presented a three-part training for architects, engineers, and maintenance staff covering common errors in accessibility and the requirements of the new 2010 Standards for Accessible Design. The Department of General Services' monthly lunch and learn seminars include presentations on specific topics related to accessibility, such as assistive listening devices, automatic doors, and related topics. The County regularly participates in workshops, webinars, and teleconferences on ADA issues presented by the ADA National Network and Easter Seals Project Action. The County's intranet site provides employees with a wide range of information and resources on the ADA and accessibility issues.
- Library Access. Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) have a wide variety of services for people with disabilities, their families, and caretakers. The MCPL website provides a list of the accessible features and services available at each library. These features and services include: assistive listening devices in MCPL meeting rooms, book delivery services, large print books, Braille embossers, closed captioned video cassettes, closed circuit TV (CCTV) for print enlargement of typed or written materials, computer lab with adaptive hardware and software, copy machines with enlargement capability, descriptive videos, homebound service, interpreters for persons who are deaf and hard of hearing, magnifiers, public access catalog terminals and computers equipped with ZoomText text enlargement software and JAWS screen reader software, reading machines, accessible study carrels, and video relay terminals for patron use.
- Website Access. The County has posted its accessibility statement on its website. It allows for online visitors to request accessible information or services by posting a telephone number, TTY number, and e-mail address on its home page. The County provides training for web developers and content managers on accessibility features and has purchased accessibility scanning and monitoring software to improve its website access. The County is in the process of redesign of its website, which will include accessibility improvements.
- Emergency Communications. Montgomery County offers, free of charge, the Alert Montgomery Network to contact citizens during a major crisis or emergency, to deliver important emergency alerts, notifications and updates on any or all of the following devices at once: e-mail account (work, home, other), cell phone, text pager, BlackBerry, or wireless PDA.
- 9-1-1 Services. The County has taken steps to ensure that each 9-1-1 call station is equipped with a TTY or computer equivalent and has taken steps to ensure that persons who use TTYs have equivalent access to 9-1-1 services.
- Auxiliary Aids and Services. It is Montgomery County's policy to provide auxiliary aids and services for people with disabilities upon request.
- Domestic Violence Programs. The County has provided written information regarding its Domestic Violence Programs in alternate formats for persons who are blind or have low vision. The Programs also have arrangements with interpreter services and provide direct-connection to their Hotline for people who use TTYs. In situations where the County's shelter is not physically accessible to a person with a disability, the County has taken steps to ensure that accessible accommodations are available for persons with disabilities. The County has adopted a policy of ensuring that persons with disabilities have equal access to the services of the County's Domestic Violence Programs.
- National Recognition of Commitment to Achieving Accessibility for Single Family Homes. The National Association of Home Builders and the National Organization on Disability named the Maryland National Capital Building Industry Association as the winner of the 2007 National Disability Initiative Award for its Design for Life Montgomery program, the first voluntary certification program in Maryland to promote greater accessibility in single-family attached and single-family detached construction.
- Emergency Preparedness. Montgomery County has established an Emergency Preparedness Advisory Panel, with representation from the Commission on People with Disabilities and the Commission on Aging, in order to facilitate ongoing involvement in the emergency planning process and to assist in developing and presenting training for emergency shelter staff and volunteers. The County's website includes extensive information on emergency and disaster planning for people with disabilities with links to emergency planning at the national level. The County's Department of Health and Human Services has developed an emergency preparedness checklist for its case managers and contracted home health agencies to assist individuals in developing a personal emergency plan. The County provides nurses, home health aides, and social workers at its emergency shelters to provide direct care and case management services for people with disabilities and others. The County has a process in place to provide durable medical equipment and medications for emergency shelter residents when necessary. The Office of Disability Integration and Coordination (ODIC) at the Federal Emergency Management Agency has presented training for the County's Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) on emergency preparedness for children and adults with disabilities.
- Notification of Services. Information about County government programs and services for people with disabilities is provided through a variety of methods, including the County's 3-1-1 Information program, the County's website, a specialized telephone information and assistance telephone line, e-newsletters and distribution lists, written informational guides, the County's cable channel, and information fairs and workshops.
- Within two months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will redistribute the attached Notice (Attachment A) to all agency heads and 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.
- 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.
- Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will redistribute the attached ADA Grievance Procedure (Attachment B), to all agency heads, and post copies of it in conspicuous locations in each of its public buildings. It will refresh the posted copies, and update the contact information contained on it, as necessary, for the life of the Agreement. Copies will also be provided to any person upon request.
- The County will continue to identify sources of qualified sign language and oral interpreters, real-time transcription services, and vendors that can put documents in Braille, and will continue to 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, accessible electronic format (e.g., HTML), etc.).
- The County will take steps to ensure that all appropriate employees are trained and practiced in using the Maryland Relay Service to make and receive calls.
- Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will ensure that each 9-1-1 call station is equipped with a TTY or computer equivalent.
- Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will develop procedures for answering 9-1-1 calls that include training all call takers to use a TTY to take 9-1-1 calls, to recognize a "silent" open line as a potential TTY call and respond by TTY, and to ensure that TTY calls are answered as quickly as other calls received.
- The County will monitor its incoming 9-1-1 TTY calls to ensure they are answered as quickly and accurately as other calls received.
- The County will take steps to incorporate correct TTY call-taking procedures into 9-1-1 call takers' performance evaluations and will take steps to amend its personnel policies to include written disciplinary procedures for call takers who fail to perform TTY call-taking consistent with the training and procedures. The County will implement and report to the Department its evaluation and procedures within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement.
- Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will redistribute its policy entitled Interpreters/Language Services (Attachment C), and distribute to all department officers the Guide for Law Enforcement Officers When in Contact with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (Attachment D).
- Throughout the term of this Agreement, the County will continue to maintain a 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 police department or make other appropriate arrangements (such as contracting directly with or hiring qualified interpreters).
- Throughout the term of this Agreement, the County will continue to ensure that each police station or substation and each 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 TTYs a longer period of time to make those calls, due to the slower nature of TTY communications compared with voice communications.
- The County avers that their employment policies comply with the regulations of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will amend its employment policies, as necessary, to comply with the regulations of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission implementing title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, codified at 29 C.F.R. Part 1630. At minimum, those policies, embedded in the Montgomery County Personnel Regulations 2001 and as amended (MCPR), will provide that the County:
- will not discriminate on the basis of disability in its hiring or employment practices (see MCPR § 5-2);
- will not ask a job applicant about the existence, nature, or severity of a disability. Applicants may be asked about their ability to perform specific job functions. Medical examinations or inquiries may be made, but only after a conditional offer of employment is made and only if required of all applicants for the position (see MCPR § 8-6(a)(1));
- will make reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental limitations of a qualified applicant or employee with a disability upon request unless the accommodation would cause an undue hardship on the operation of the County's business. If an applicant or an employee requests a reasonable accommodation and the individual's disability and need for the accommodation are not readily apparent or otherwise known, the County may ask the individual for information necessary to determine if the individual has a disability-related need for the accommodation (see MCPR § 8-5 and 8-6(d));
- will maintain any employee's medical records separate from personnel files and keep them confidential (see MCPR § 4-3(d)(4)); and
- will make an individualized assessment of whether a qualified individual with a disability meets selection criteria for employment decisions. To the extent the County's selection criteria have the effect of disqualifying an individual because of disability, those criteria will be job-related and consistent with business necessity (see MCPR § 8-4(a)(3) and (5)).
- The Department will work collaboratively with the County to ensure that the County's Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) will be in compliance with ADA requirements. The touchstone for compliance with ADA requirements relating to emergency management is Chapter 7 of the Department's ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Government (ADA Tool Kit), which includes key ADA obligations that apply to all aspects of emergency management, including planning, preparedness, evacuation, shelters, medical and social services, lodging and housing programs, recovery, and rebuilding.
- The County is committed to compliance with the ADA requirements as described in Chapter 7 of the ADA Tool Kit. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will revise its EOP so that it conforms with Chapter 7 of the ADA Tool Kit, and the County will provide a copy of its revised EOP (including supporting documents) to the Department. The Department will review the revised EOP to ensure compliance with title II of the ADA and its implementing regulation.
- 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.
- Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that it continues to regularly solicit and incorporate input from persons with a variety of disabilities and those who serve them regarding all phases of its Montgomery County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan (preparation, notification, response, and clean up).
- Within six 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.
- Within six 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.
- Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that emergency shelters have electrical power (such as a back-up generator) and ways to keep medications refrigerated (such as a refrigerator or cooler with ice). Access to back-up power and refrigeration at such shelters 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 shelters.
- Within six 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 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.
- Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County 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 one year 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.
- 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.
- Within one month of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will request in writing that each of the owners and operators of the shelter facilities listed in Attachment G will remove the noted barriers to access for persons with disabilities. The request will specify that the remediation be completed within one year of the effective date of this Agreement. The County will simultaneously send a courtesy copy of the request to the Department.
- Within fourteen months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will survey the shelters listed in Attachment G to determine whether the noted barriers have been removed. If not all barriers have been removed, the County will identify within eighteen months of the effective date of this Agreement an appropriate number of alternate shelters where the parking, exterior routes, entrances, interior routes to the shelter area, and toilet rooms to the shelter area comply with the Standards.
- Within six 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.
- The County will continue to implement, and will report to the Department regarding, its written process for soliciting and receiving input from persons with disabilities regarding the accessibility of its sidewalks, including, for example, requests to add curb ramps at particular locations.
- Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will identify and report to the Department all existing records of all of its 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 its streets, roads, and highways identified under this paragraph having curbs or other barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway.
- The County will continue to provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at any of its 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.
- Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County will identify and report to the Department all existing records of its 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 its street, road, or highway.
- 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 its streets, roads, or highways.
- Weather permitting, the County will, within 90 days of a reported deficiency in its curb ramps or other sloped areas, inspect and repair as needed to come into compliance with the Standards.
- 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).
- Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, and throughout the life of the Agreement, the County will do the following:
- Establish, implement, and post online a policy that its web pages will be accessible and create a process for implementation;
- Develop and implement a plan for making existing web content more accessible;
- 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
- Periodically (at least annually) enlist people with disabilities to test its pages for ease of use.
- Within 24 months of the effective date of this Agreement and throughout the life of the Agreement, the County will ensure that all new and modified County web pages and content are accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- The County will ensure that all buildings and facilities constructed by or on behalf of the County are constructed in full compliance with the requirements of 28 C.F.R. § 35.151, including applicable architectural standards.
- The County will ensure that alterations to County facilities are made in full compliance with the requirements of 28 C.F.R. § 35.151, including applicable architectural standards.
- The elements or features of the County's facilities and certain MNCPPC 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.
- When taking the actions required by this agreement, until March 14, 2012, the County and MNCPPC may comply with the cited provisions of the Standards or the 2010 Standards defined at 28 C.F.R. § 35.104, which includes both the title II regulations at 28 C.F.R. § 35.151 and the 2004 ADAAG at 36 C.F.R. Part 1191, Appendices B and D. As of March 15, 2012, the County and MNCPPC must comply with the 2010 Standards. The County and MNCPPC must designate which of these two accessibility standards they elect to use, use the same accessibility standard throughout a facility in making alterations, and report to the Department which set of Standards will be used for each facility.
- Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, the County and MNCPPC 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.
- Newly Constructed Facilities: In order to ensure that the following 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 Attachments I and M.
- Altered Facilities: In order to ensure that the following 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 Attachments J and M.
- Program Access in County and MNCPPC Existing Facilities: In order to ensure that each of the County's programs, services, and activities and each of MNCPPC'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 and MNCPPC will take the actions listed in Attachment K and M.
- Access to County Programs Housed in Others' Facilities: In order to ensure that any 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 its entirety, are readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments, the County will take the actions listed in Attachments L and M. The County's obligations relating to County programs, services, and activities conducted in MNCPPC facilities are stated in Paragraph 70.
- Access to County Programs Housed in MNCPPC Facilities: In order to ensure that any County program, service, and activity that is the subject of this Agreement and that is operated by the County at facilities owned or controlled by MNCPPC, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by persons with mobility impairments, the MNCPPC will take the actions listed for MNCPPC facilities in Attachments K and M. The County is responsible for ensuring that any of its programs, services, and activities operated in facilities owned or controlled by MNCPPC is, when viewed in its entirety, readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities
- The County's Facilities and Programs Not Surveyed by the Department: The County will review compliance with the requirements of Title II of the ADA for those County facilities and programs that were not reviewed by the Department. The County will submit for review by the Department a detailed report listing the access issues identified during its review together with the corrective actions and completion dates proposed to resolve such issues. The review conducted by the County, the access issues identified, and the corrective actions and completion dates proposed will be consistent with the requirements of Title II of the ADA; the review of County facilities and programs conducted by the Department for purposes of this Agreement; and the access issues, corrective actions, and completion dates reflected in Attachments I, J, K, L, and M. Due to the large number of facilities in the County, the County may elect to submit the reports required by this paragraph on yearly anniversaries of the effective date of this agreement for a period of up to three years, each such report covering approximately one-third (1/3) of the County's facilities.
- MNCPC’s Facilities and Programs Not Surveyed by the Department: MNCPPC will review compliance with the requirements of title II of the ADA for those MNCPPC facilities and programs that were not reviewed by the Department. MNCPPC will submit for review by the Department a detailed report listing the access issues identified during its review together with the corrective actions and completion dates proposed to resolve such issues. The review conducted by MNCPPC , the access issues identified, and the corrective actions and completion dates proposed will be consistent with the requirements of Ttitle II of the ADA; the review of MNCPPC facilities and programs conducted by the Department for purposes of this Agreement; and the access issues, corrective actions, and completion dates reflected in Attachments I, J, K, L, and M. Due to the large number of MNCPPC facilities,MNCPPC may elect to submit the reports required by this paragraph on yearly anniversaries of the effective date of this agreement for a period of up to five years, each such report covering approximately one-fifth (1/5) of the County’s facilities.
- The County avers that its programs for victims of domestic violence and abuse provide the services listed in A - H, below. Throughout the term of this Agreement, the County will:
- Continue to ensure that any written information that it distributes regarding its Domestic Violence Programs is provided in alternate formats, including Braille, large print, audio recording, and electronic formats, upon request.
- Continue to maintain contracts or 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.
- Continue to ensure that the County's Hotline for victims of domestic violence ensures that it provides equivalent service for persons who use TTYs, 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 TTYs, as well as the training necessary to respond to callers who use the Telecommunication Relay Services.
- 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 the County's Domestic Violence Programs.
- 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.
- Continue to 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.
- 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.
- Implement written policies to ensure that despite any "drug-free" policy of the 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Throughout the three year period that begins on the effective date of this Agreement, the County will deliver its training programs 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.
- If at any time the County or MNCPPC 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.
- The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that the County or MNCPPC 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 or MNCPPC , 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.
- For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for the County or MNCPPC 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.
- 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.
- 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, MNCPPC, or the Department on request.
- 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 or MNCPPC's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
- This Agreement will remain in effect for six years or until the parties agree that all actions required by the Agreement have been completed, whichever is later.
- The person signing for the County represents that he or she is authorized to bind the County to this Agreement. The person signing for MNCPPC represents that he or she is authorized to bind MNCPPC to this Agreement.
- The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
ACTIONS TAKEN BY THE COUNTY
The County states that it has taken the following actions:
GENERAL EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION PROVISIONS
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES AND POLICIES
PHYSICAL CHANGES TO EMERGENCY SHELTERS
WEB-BASED SERVICES AND PROGRAMS
NEW CONSTRUCTION, ALTERATIONS, PHYSICAL CHANGES TO FACILITIES, AND PROGRAM MODIFICATIONS
PROGRAMS FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE
IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT
For the County:
TIMOTHY L. FIRESTINE, Chief
Administrative Officer, Montgomery County Government
101 Monroe Street
Rockville, MD 20850
For the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission:
PATRICIA COLIHAN BARNEY
Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission
6611 Kenilworth Avenue
Riverdale, MD 20737
For the United States:
ROY L. AUSTIN, JR.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
KATHLEEN P. WOLFE, Acting Chief
Disability Rights Section
DOV LUTZKER, Acting Deputy Chief
JENNIFER K. McDANNELL, Supervisory Attorney
Disability Rights Section
SUSAN GEIPE QUINN, Investigator
BRIAN RYU, Architect
Disability Rights Section - NYA
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530
(202) 514-7821 (fax)