On November 22, 2011, the Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement with Upshur County, Texas, under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
The Department of Justice initiated an investigation of Upshur County in response to a complaint alleging that the Upshur County Sheriff's Office failed to provide effective communication to an individual with a disability. The investigation of this complaint expanded to a compliance review under Project Civic Access, a Department initiative to ensure greater access for persons with disabilities to state and local government programs, services, activities, and facilities. County personnel worked cooperatively with the Department throughout the compliance review process in order to reach an agreement.
An on-site survey of the County's buildings, programs, and services was conducted in January, 2011. Facilities and programs surveyed by the Department and covered by the agreement include: Gladewater Annex (the Upshur County Subcourthouse), Upshur County Courthouse, Upshur County Library, Rock Building, Tax Office, Porter Building, Upshur County Justice Center, and Road and Bridge Authority.
The Department also reviewed the County's policies and procedures regarding voting, employment, emergency management and disaster prevention, and sidewalk maintenance to evaluate whether persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to utilize these programs. This included a program access review of various polling places operated by Upshur County.
Under the agreement announced today, Upshur County will take several important steps to improve access for individuals with disabilities. The text of the settlement agreement specifies the modifications that Upshur County will be making to its programs, services, and facilities and the timeframes for making each change. Among other things, Upshur County has agreed to:
This is the 196th agreement under the PCA initiative. Located in eastern Texas, the Upshur County seat is Gilmer. Upshur County is the site of the East Texas Yamboree, an annual festival that includes a carnival, livestock show and sale, a barn dance, and many other family activities. According to census data, 22.8 percent of Upshur County residents have a disability.
The agreement will remain in effect for three years from November 22, 2011, or until all actions required by the agreement have been completed, whichever is later. The agreement requires many actions to be completed within six months. The Department will actively monitor compliance with the agreement until it has confirmed that all required actions have been completed.