SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT BETWEEN
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AND
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT
UNDER THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT
DJ# 204-14-130

I. BACKGROUND

On July 25, 2005, the United States completed a compliance review of the city of Hartford’s (City) programs, services and activities, under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADAs), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the United States Department of Justice’s implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35.
The Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division conducted this review of the City’s compliance with the following Title II requirements:

The United States reviewed compliance with the ADA’s new construction and alterations requirements at the following 17 facilities constructed or altered after January 26, 1992:

The program access review covered those of the City’s programs, services, and activities that operate in the following 33 facilities that were constructed prior to January 26, 1992:

The Department’s program access review covered those of the City’s programs, services, and activities that are operated by the City at facilities owned or controlled by other entities, including: 250 Constitution Plaza; 260 Constitution Plaza; Burgdorf - Fleet Health Center at 131 Coventry Street; and Park Branch Library at 744 Park Street.

The Department reviewed the City’s policies and procedures regarding notification of ADA policies, effective communication, emergency management and disaster prevention, sidewalk maintenance, and accessibility of web-based programs to evaluate whether persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to utilize these programs.

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

On July 26, 2005, the City and the Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement (“2005 Settlement Agreement”), which required the City to take certain actions, within  specified periods of time, to ensure the City was in compliance with the ADA.

On or before July 24, 2014, pursuant to paragraph 47 of the 2005 Settlement Agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, sought to review the City’s compliance with the 2005 Settlement Agreement.  The City requested a year to respond to the request, and by correspondence dated July 24, 2014, the United States agreed to provide the City of Hartford with a one year extension, until July 26, 2015, to comply with the terms of the Agreement.  On July 24, 2015, the City provided the U.S. Attorney’s Office with documents related to its compliance with the 2005 Settlement Agreement (“2015 Compliance Report”).  The U.S. Attorney’s Office’s review of the 2015 Compliance Report establishes that several remedial actions required by the 2005 Settlement Agreement remain outstanding.

II.  JURISDICTION

  1. The ADA applies to the City because it is a “public entity” as defined by Title II.  42 U.S.C. § 12131(1).
  2. The United States is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to determine the compliance of the City with Title II of the ADA and the Department of Justice’s Title II implementing regulation, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements.  
  3. The Attorney General is authorized, under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing Title II of the ADA.
  4. The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the city of Hartford, Connecticut.
  5. Based on its review of the City’s 2015 Compliance Report, the United States has concluded that qualified individuals with disabilities continue to be, because of such disabilities, excluded from participation in or are denied the benefits of many of the City’s programs, services, or activities or are subjected to discrimination in violation of the ADA.  The agreed upon remedial actions, below, are intended to remedy those violations.
  6. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of a further investigation and possible litigation, the parties enter into this Agreement.
  7. In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit for the non-compliance with the terms of the 2005 Settlement Agreement, see paragraphs 9 through 54 of the 2005 Settlement Agreement, available at  https://www.ada.gov/hartfordctsa.htm.

III. ACTIONS TAKEN BY CITY

  1. The City represents that it has taken the following actions in Attachment A, to comply with the ADA.  

IV. REMEDIAL ACTION

A. Independent Licensed Architect (ILA)

  1. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City shall retain an Independent Licensed Architect (ILA), approved by the United States, who is knowledgeable about the architectural accessibility requirements of the ADA.  The ILA proposed by the City must be approved by the United States. The ILA must act independently to certify whether any alterations, additions, or modifications made by the City under the 2005 Settlement Agreement, and under the terms of this Agreement comply with the applicable standard pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 35.151(c) and the Appendix to 28 C.F.R. § 35.151(c), as set out in paragraphs 37-41 below. The City will bear all costs and expenses of retaining and utilizing the ILA, including the costs and expenses of any consultants and staff. The City will compensate this ILA without regard to the outcome.
  2. In issuing certifications pursuant to this Agreement, the ILA will impartially prepare reports with photographs identifying that the violation has been remediated and will use the certification form at Attachment B. The ILA will be considered a neutral inspector for purposes of issuing certifications of compliance and will be reasonably available to the United States to discuss findings in the reports, photographs, and certifications. The United States may also, in its discretion, provide technical assistance to the ILA throughout the term of this Agreement. Upon request by the United States, the City will provide prior notice to the United States of inspections by the ILA to allow representatives of the United States to be present.
  3. The City will submit ILA certifications along with its reporting requirements as set forth in this Agreement.

B. Sidewalks

  1. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will identify and report to the Department all remaining streets, roads, and highways that were not built or modified to be accessible as part of the City’s sidewalk accessibility projects.  Within two years of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards at all remaining intersections of the streets, roads, and highways having curbs or other barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway.
  2. Beginning no later than twelve months after the effective date of this Agreement, the City will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards 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.
  3. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will identify and report to the Department all remaining street level pedestrian walkways that were not built or modified to be accessible as part of the City’s streetscape accessibility projects.  Within two years of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards or UFAS at all places where a street level pedestrian walkway intersects with a street, road, or highway.
  4. Beginning no later than twelve months after the effective date of this Agreement, the City will provide curb ramps or other sloped areas complying with the Standards at all newly constructed or altered pedestrian walkways where they intersect a street, road, or highway.

C. Buildings and Facilities

  1. Within three years of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will complete all the renovations required by the 2005 Settlement Agreement including, but not limited to, the following renovations to City buildings and facilities:
    1. Blue Hills Recreation Center at 9 Lebanon Street- see ¶ 5, Attachment K,  2005 Settlement Agreement;
    2. City Hall Annex at 525 Main Street- see ¶ 7, Attachment K, 2005 Settlement Agreement;
    3. Colt Park Administration Building at 25 Stonington Street- see ¶ 8, Attachment K, 2005 Settlement Agreement;
    4. Dillon Stadium at 250 Huyshope Avenue- see ¶ 9, Attachment K, 2005 Settlement Agreement;
    5. Fire Station - Engine Co. 11 at 150 Sisson Avenue- see ¶ 18, Attachment K, 2005 Settlement Agreement;
    6. Goodwin Park Golf Course at 1192 Maple Avenue- see ¶ 22, Attachment K, 2005 Settlement Agreement;
    7. Horse Stables at the Keney Service Yard- see ¶ 24, Attachment K, 2005 Settlement Agreement;
    8. Keney Park Golf Course at 280 Tower Avenue- see ¶ 26, Attachment K, 2005 Settlement Agreement;
    9. McCook Daycare Center at 36 Coventry Street-  see ¶  28, Attachment K, 2005 Settlement Agreement;
    10. McCook Family Center at 2 Coventry Street; see ¶ 29, Attachment K, 2005 Settlement Agreement.
  2. Any and all renovations for any building or facility covered by the 2005 Settlement Agreement must be completed within the time frame specified in paragraph 16, or may not thereafter be occupied.
  3. The City shall not be required to complete any renovations for any building or facility covered by the 2005 Settlement Agreement and slated for demolition or sale, which is currently not being used or occupied as of the effective date of this agreement, so long as the building or facility remains unoccupied and not in use by the City or any other entity operating a program on behalf of the City. 

D. General Effective Communication Provisions

  1. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will verify that it currently has identified sources of qualified sign language and oral interpreters, qualified readers, real-time transcription services, and vendors able to put documents in Braille.  The City will provide the Department with a list of all identified sources.
  2. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will verify that it has in place written procedures, with time frames, for fulfilling requests for sign language or oral interpreters, qualified readers, real-time transcription services, and documents in alternate formats, including Braille, large print, cassette tapes, and accessible electronic format (e.g., HTML). 
  3. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will verify that all employees who interact with members of the public are trained and practiced in using the Connecticut Relay Service to make and receive calls.  Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will provide the Department with a copy of all training materials used to train employees on the Connecticut Relay Service.

E. Web-based Services and Programs

  1. Within one month of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will designate an employee, or independent contractor, as the web accessibility coordinator for the City who will be responsible for ensuring the City’s compliance with the requirements of Title II of the ADA, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) version 2.0, and website accessibility generally.
  2. Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will retain an independent consultant, approved by the United States, who is knowledgeable about accessible website development, Title II of the ADA, and WCAG 2.0 to evaluate the City’s website and any proposed online services for compliance with the ADA and, at minimum, WCAG 2.0 Level A and Level AA Success Criteria and other Conformance Requirements (WCAG 2.0 AA), and who shall be responsible for the annual website accessibility evaluation.  The City will bear all costs and expenses of retaining and utilizing this independent consultant, including the costs and expenses of any staff.  The City will compensate this independent consultant without regard to the outcome.
  3. On an annual basis, the City 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 City (Internet Personnel) the technical assistance document, “Accessibility of State and Local Government Websites to People with Disabilities,” which is Attachment H to the 2005 Settlement Agreement (it is also available at www.ada.gov/websites2.htm)
  4. Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, and annually thereafter, the City will:
    1. Adopt, implement, and post online a policy that its web pages will comply with WCAG 2.0 AA, published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), available at www.w3.org/TR/WCAG;
    2. Distribute the policy to all employees and contractors who design, develop, maintain, or otherwise have responsibility for its websites, or provide website content, technical support, or customer service;
    3. Provide training to website content personnel on how to conform all web content and services with, at minimum, WCAG 2.0 AA, Title II of the ADA, and the terms of this Agreement;
    4. Assess all existing web content and online services for conformance with, at minimum, WCAG 2.0 AA, by: (1) performing automated accessibility tests of its website and all online services, using an automated tool approved by the United States, to identify any accessibility barriers; and (2) enlisting individuals with different disabilities, including at a minimum individuals who are blind, deaf, and have physical disabilities (such as those limiting the ability to use a mouse), to test its pages for ease of use and accessibility barriers;
    5. Provide a notice, prominently and directly linked from its homepage, instructing visitors to its websites on how to request accessible information. The link shall provide several methods to request accessible information, including an accessible form to submit feedback, an email address, and a toll-free phone number (with TTY) to contact personnel knowledgeable about the accessibility of the website; and
    6. Provide a notice, prominently and directly linked from its homepage, soliciting feedback from visitors to its websites on how to improve website accessibility. The link shall provide several methods to provide feedback, including an accessible form to submit feedback, an email address, and a toll-free phone number (with TTY) to contact personnel knowledgeable about the accessibility of the website.
  5. Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will: 
    1. Ensure that its websites and all online services, including those websites or online services provided by third parties upon which the City relies to provide services or content, comply with, at minimum, WCAG 2.0 AA; and
    2. Assess all proposed online services before they are made available to the public for conformance with, at minimum, WCAG 2.0 AA, by: (1) performing automated accessibility tests, using an automated tool approved by the United States, to identify any accessibility barriers; and (2) enlisting individuals with different disabilities, including at a minimum individuals who are blind, deaf, and have physical disabilities (such as those limiting the ability to use a mouse), to test its pages for ease of use and accessibility barriers.

F. Emergency Management Policies and Procedures

  1. The City’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) must comply with the ADA. The City will use Chapter 7 of the Department of Justice’s ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Government (ADA Tool Kit) to address ADA obligations of emergency management, including planning, preparedness, evacuation, shelters, medical and social services, lodging and housing programs, recovery, and rebuilding.
  2. Within 60 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will incorporate the provisions of Chapter 7 of the ADA Tool Kit  into its EOP and provide a copy (including supporting documents) to the United States.
  3. The City’s EOP will include the following:
    1. procedures to solicit, receive, and use input from people with a variety of disabilities on its emergency management plan (preparation, notification, response, and clean-up).
    2. community evacuation plans to enable people who have mobility disabilities, are blind or have low vision, are deaf or hard of hearing, have cognitive disabilities, mental illness, or other disabilities to safely self-evacuate or be evacuated by others.
    3. if it’s emergency warning system uses sirens or other audible alerts, then procedures to effectively inform people who are deaf or hard of hearing of an impending disaster.
    4. a requirement that emergency shelters have a back-up generator and a way to keep medications refrigerated (such as a refrigerator or a cooler with ice). Access to back-up power and refrigeration at such shelters will be made available to people 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 people of the location of such shelters.
    5. procedures ensuring that people 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 people who use service animals from others but may take into account the potential presence of people who, for safety or health reasons, should not be in contact with certain types of animals.
    6. plans for providing equivalent opportunities for accessible post-emergency temporary housing to people with disabilities. The City 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.

G. Physical Changes To Emergency Shelters

  1. Some City emergency shelters may be owned or operated by other public entities subject to Title II or by public accommodations subject to Title III of the ADA and therefore they must provide program access or remove barriers to accessibility under the ADA.  This Agreement does not limit future enforcement action against the owners or operators of these emergency shelters.
  2. Within one month of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will request in writing that each of the owners and operators of the shelter facilities will remove the noted barriers to access for people with disabilities. The request will specify that the remediation be completed within one year of the effective date of this Agreement. The City will simultaneously send a courtesy copy of the request to the United States.
  3. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the ILA will survey the shelters to determine if there are any architectural barriers that have to be removed. If any shelters are found to have architectural barriers, the City will identify within 18 months of the effective date of this Agreement an appropriate number of alternate accessible shelters as confirmed by the ILA using the survey instrument entitled ADA Checklist for Emergency Shelters, Attachment C.
  4. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement and until all emergency shelters are accessible as confirmed by the ILA, the City will identify and widely publicize to the public and to people with disabilities the most accessible emergency shelters.

H. 911

  1. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will ensure that each of its 911 consoles or call stations can receive and respond to TTY communications effectively with an analog TTY or computer equivalent.
  2. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will develop written procedures for answering 911 calls that include training all call takers to use a TTY or computer equivalent to take 911 calls, to recognize a “silent” open line as a potential TTY call and respond by analog TTY or computer equivalent, and to ensure that TTY calls are answered as quickly as other calls received. 
  3. The City will monitor its incoming 911 TTY calls to ensure it answers them as quickly and accurately as other calls received, and will send the written procedures and details of the monitoring to the United States, or will provide sufficient evidence that its computerized system ensures that TTY calls are answered as quickly as other calls received.

I. New Construction, Alterations, And Physical Changes To Facilities

  1. Any construction or alterations to City buildings and facilities by it or on its behalf will fully comply with the requirements of 28 C.F.R. § 35.151, including applicable architectural standards.
  2. If parts of a City facility do not comply with the 2010 ADA Standards (or the 1991 ADA Standards, as applicable), that noncompliance prevents people with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying the City’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. §§ 35.149-35.151.  Therefore, all architectural changes made by the City or on its behalf on or after the effective date of this agreement, must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards.
  3. In the event that the City has already undertaken an alteration, addition, or other modification to any element identified in Attachments or otherwise after January 26, 1992, and prior to the effective date of this Agreement, the City will submit, within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, a written report to the ILA and the United States summarizing the actions taken and providing evidence establishing each individual element’s compliance with the applicable architectural standard as permitted by 28 C.F.R. § 35.151(c) and its Appendix, copied below:
  4. Date of Construction or Alteration

    Applicable Standards

    Before September 15, 2010

    1991 ADA Standards or UFAS

    On or after September 15, 2010, and before March 15, 2012

    1991 ADA Standards, UFAS, or 2010 ADA Standards

    On or after March 15, 2012

    2010 Standards

  5. Within twelve months of the effective date of this Agreement, City will have the ILA survey 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. Also within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, City will install directional signage at all inaccessible entrances to each of its facilities and will place the international symbol for accessibility at each accessible entrance to a facility, in accordance with 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(b).
  6. Facilities and Programs that the United States Did Not Survey: the City will review compliance with the requirements of Title II of the ADA for those City facilities and programs that the United States did not survey or review. The ILA will survey all the City’s facilities for compliance with Title II of the ADA that the United States did not survey. Within two years of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will submit to the United States a detailed report from the ILA listing the access issues identified during the ILA’s review together with the corrective actions and completion dates proposed to resolve such issues. The proposed completion dates may be no later than six months prior to the termination of this Agreement. The survey conducted by the ILA, 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 the City facilities and programs conducted by the United States for purposes of this Agreement, and the 2005 Settlement Agreement.

V. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

  1. Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, six months after the effective date of this Agreement and annually thereafter until it expires, the City will submit written reports to the United States summarizing its actions pursuant to this Agreement. The City’s reports will include written certifications from the ILA, photographs showing measurements, architectural plans, notices published in the newspaper, and copies of adopted policies, to demonstrate compliance with the terms of this Agreement.
  2. Throughout the term of this Agreement, consistent with 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(a), the City will maintain the accessibility of its programs, activities, services, facilities, and equipment, including routinely testing accessibility equipment and routinely auditing the accessibility of its programs and facilities. This provision, however, does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs. 28 C.F.R. § 35.133(b).
  3. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will submit for pre-approval by the United States, a proposed training program, equal in time to at least four hours, on the requirements of the ADA and appropriate ways of serving people with disabilities. The submission will include: a description of the training, the agenda, the proposed handouts, and the name, title, and address of the trainer. Within 12 months of the pre-approval of the training program by the United States, all City employees who have direct contact with members of the public in settings where the public routinely interacts with the employee in receiving or filing information, such as court clerk’s office and the tax office, will receive training on the requirements of the ADA and appropriate ways of serving people with disabilities. The  four hours of training can be in one session or multiple sessions.

VI. IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT

  1. The City may seek to modify this Agreement because of changed conditions making performance impossible by notifying the United States in writing, setting forth the modification and the facts to support it. Until the United States agrees to the modification in writing, no modification will take effect. The United States’ agreement will not be unreasonably withheld.
  2. The United States may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. The City will cooperate with the United States. If the United States believes that the City has failed to comply with this Agreement, then the United States will notify the City in writing. If, after 30 days of providing the City with written notice of non-compliance, the United States determines that the City has failed to come into compliance, the United States may institute a civil action in federal district court to enforce the terms of this Agreement and may take appropriate steps to enforce Title II.
  3. It is a violation of this Agreement for the City to fail to comply in a timely manner with any of the requirements of this Agreement.
  4. Failure by the United States to enforce any provision of this Agreement is not a waiver of the United States’ right to enforce any provisions of this Agreement.
  5. This Agreement is a public document. The City will provide a copy of this Agreement to any person, upon request.
  6. This Agreement (including its Attachments) is 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 will be enforceable. This Agreement does not remedy any other potential violations of the ADA or other federal law. This Agreement does not relieve the City of its continuing obligation to comply with all aspects of the ADA.
  7. This Agreement will remain in effect for four years from the effective date of this Agreement.
  8. The person signing for the City represents that he or she is authorized to bind the City to this Agreement.
  9. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.

For the City of Hartford:
LUKE BRONIN
Mayor, City of Hartford

 

By: /s/ Howard Rifkin
Howard Rifkin
Corporation Counsel for the City of Hartford
City Hall
550 Main Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06103

Date: 11/27/17

For the United States:
JOHN H. DURHAM
United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut

 

By: /s/ John B. Hughes                  
John B. Hughes
Chief, Civil Division
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut
157 Church Street, 25th Floor
New Haven, CT 06510

Date: 11-28-17

By: /s/ Ndidi N. Moses
Ndidi N. Moses
Assistant U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut
1000 Lafayette Blvd., 10th Floor
Bridgeport, CT 06604

Date: 11/28/17