SCOPE OF THE INVESTIGATION
The United States Department of Justice (Department) initiated this matter as a compliance review of Hartford, Connecticut, under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134, and the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35. Because the City receives financial assistance from the Department of Justice, the review was also conducted under the authority of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and the Department's implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G.
The review was conducted by the Disability Rights Section of the Department's Civil Rights Division and focused on the City's compliance with the following title II requirements:
C to conduct a self-evaluation of its services, policies, and practices by July 26, 1992, and make modifications necessary to comply with the Department's title II regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.105;
C to notify applicants, participants, beneficiaries, and other interested persons of their rights and the City's obligations under title II and the Department's regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.106;
C to designate a responsible employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out the City's ADA responsibilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.107(a);
C to establish a grievance procedure for resolving complaints of violations of title II, 28 C.F.R. § 35.107(b);
C to operate each program, service, or activity so that, when viewed in its entirety, it is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.150, by:
C delivery of services, programs, or activities in alternate ways, including, for example, redesign of equipment, reassignment of services, assignment of aides, home visits, or other methods of compliance or, if these methods are not effective in making the programs accessible,
C physical changes to buildings (required to have been made by January 26, 1995), in accordance with the Department's title II regulation, 28 C.F.R. § 35.151, and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards), 28 C.F.R. pt. 36, App. A, or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), 41 C.F.R. § 101-19.6, App. A.
C to ensure that facilities for which construction or alteration was begun after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities, in accordance with 1) the Department's title II regulation and 2) the Standards or UFAS, 28 C.F.R. § 35.151;
C to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others, including furnishing auxiliary aids and services when necessary, 28 C.F.R. § 35.160;
C to provide direct access via TTY (text telephone) or computer-to-telephone emergency services, including 9-1-1 services, for persons who use TTY's and computer modems, 28 C.F.R. § 35.162;
C to provide information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the City's accessible services, activities, and facilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(a); and
C to provide signage at all inaccessible entrances to each of its facilities, directing users to an accessible entrance or to information about accessible facilities, 28 C.F.R. § 35.163(b).
As part of its compliance review, the Department reviewed the following facilities, which – because construction or alterations commenced after January 26, 1992 – must comply with the ADA's new construction or alterations requirements: Central Library at 500 Main Street; North End Senior Center at 80 Coventry Street; Police Station North at 636 Albany Avenue; Police Station South at 134 Affleck Street; Pope Park Recreation Center at 30 Pope Park Drive; Campfield Branch Library at 30 Campfield Avenue; Colt Park Pool and Bathhouse at Wethersfield Avenue; Cronin Park and Field House at Granby and Durham Streets; Elizabeth Park Greenhouses and Information Center at Asylum Avenue; Elizabeth Park Pond House and Pond House Café at Asylum Avenue; Fire Training Academy at 1 Fischer Road; Goodwin Branch Library at 460 New Britain Avenue; Goodwin Park, Bucior Pool, and Bathhouse at Hubbard Road and South Street; Keney Park - Barbour Field House at Barbour and Tower Avenues; Keney Park - Waverly Field House at Vine and Edgewood Streets; Keney Park Pool and Bathhouse at 323 Edgewood Street; and Willie Ware Recreation Center at 697 Windsor Avenue.
The Department's program access review covered those of the City's programs, services, and activities that operate in the following facilities: Albany Branch Library at 1250 Albany Avenue; Anderson Recreation Center and Indoor Pool at 2621 Main Street; Blue Hills Recreation Center at 9 Lebanon Street; City Hall at 550 Main Street; City Hall Annex at 525 Main Street; Colt Park Administration Building at 25 Stonington Street; Dillon Stadium at 250 Huyshope Avenue; Fire Headquarters at 275 Pearl Street; Fire Station - Engine Co. 1 at 197 Main Street; Fire Station - Engine Co. 2 at 1515 Main Street; Fire Station - Engine Co. 5 at 129 Sigourney Street; Fire Station - Engine Co. 7 at 181 Clark Street; Fire Station - Engine Co. 8 at 721 Park Street; Fire Station - Engine Co. 9 at 655 New Britain Avenue; Fire Station - Engine Co. 10 at 510 Franklin Avenue; Fire Station - Engine Co. 11 at 150 Sisson Avenue; Fire Station - Engine Co. 14 at 25 Blue Hills Avenue; Fire Station - Engine Co. 15 at 8 Fairfield Avenue; Fire Station - Engine Co. 16 at 636 Blue Hills Avenue; Goodwin Park Pond House at Hubbard Road and South Street; Goodwin Park Golf Course at 1192 Maple Avenue; Horse Stables at the Keney Service Yard; Hyland Recreation and Day Care Center at 35 New Britain Avenue; Keney Park Golf Course at 280 Tower Avenue; Keney Park Pond House at 323 Edgewood Street; McCook Day Care Center at 36 Coventry Street; McCook Family Center at 2 Coventry Street; McCook Health and Human Services Department at 2 Holcomb Street; Metzner Recreation Center and Day Care at 680 Franklin Street; Police Headquarters at 50 Jennings Road; Pope Park Pool and Bathhouse at 338 Park Terrace; Public Works Yard at the 40 Jennings Road; and Rocky Ridge Park at Zion Street.
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.
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 Department 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's title II implementing regulation, to issue findings, and, where appropriate, to negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized, under 42 U.S.C. § 12133, to bring a civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F.
3. The Department is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 42, Subpart G, to determine the City'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 City provided by the Department of Justice should the Department fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart G or to bring a civil suit to enforce the rights of the United States under applicable federal, state, or local law.
4. The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the City of Hartford, Connecticut.
5. In order to avoid the burdens and expenses of an investigation and possible litigation, the parties enter into this Agreement.
6. In consideration of, and consistent with, the terms of this Agreement, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from filing a civil suit in this matter regarding all matters contained within this Agreement, except as provided in the section entitled "Implementation and Enforcement."
ACTIONS TAKEN BY CITY
7. The City has adopted and implemented a public notice regarding the ADA. The Notice advises the public that the City does not discriminate against persons with disabilities and informs the public that reasonable accommodations and publications in alternate formats, such as Braille, large print, cassette tapes, etc., are available upon request. The Notice advises the public of the ADA Coordinator's contact information, which includes a voice/TYY telephone number.
8. The City is firmly committed to the ideal and spirit of the ADA. It has a designated ADA Coordinator and adopted a City Ordinance that created a Commission on Disability Issues (Commission) in 1977. The Commission is comprised of interested citizens that meet regularly to discuss issues and concerns. Its function is to advise the City Council and the Mayor, and provide guidance to City departments, on all matters related to program and physical access for persons with disabilities to City programs, services, and activities. Similarly, the Commission also reviews proposed construction designs to ensure that newly constructed residential and commercial buildings comply with Federal, State, and local accessibility requirements.
9. The City's Human Relations Commission, Disability Issues Unit, conducted a self-evaluation in 1987 in an on-going effort to ensure that the City is in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In November of 1989 the City had thirty five City buildings surveyed for physical accessibility and completed its transition plan, which contains recommendations for physical modifications and installation of equipment to these buildings. As a result, the City has systematically increased the number of programs, services, and activities accessible to individuals with disabilities.
10. The City has adopted and implemented an ADA Grievance Procedure in order to help ensure that persons with disabilities have access to all City programs, services, and activities. Any person who feels they have been unfairly denied access to, or the benefits of any City program, service, or activity based upon a disability, may submit a complaint to the responsible Department Head who shall respond to such complaint in writing within 10 days.
11. Beginning in 1978, the vast majority of City sidewalks and street-level pedestrian walkways were built or modified to be accessible under the Standards and/or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) as part of the City's sidewalk accessibility improvement projects and the streetscape accessibility improvement projects.
12. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will distribute its "Public Notice: Americans with Disabilities Act" to all agency heads; publish the Notice in a local newspaper of general circulation serving the City; 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.
GENERAL EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION PROVISIONS
13. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will identify sources of qualified sign language and oral interpreters, real-time transcription services, and will implement and report to the Department its written procedures, with time frames, for fulfilling requests from the public for sign language or oral interpreters and real-time transcription services. The City will continue to provide documents in alternate formats (Braille, large print, cassette tapes, etc.).
14. The City will take steps to ensure that all appropriate employees are trained and practiced in using the Connecticut Relay Service to make and receive calls.
15. The City will incorporate correct TTY call-taking procedures into 9-1-1 call takers' performance evaluations and will 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 City will implement and report to the Department its evaluation and procedures within three months of the effective date of this Agreement.
LAW ENFORCEMENT AND EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
16. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will distribute to all police officers the Guide for Law Enforcement Officers When in Contact with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing [Attachment D].
17. Throughout the term of this Agreement, the City will continue to ensure that oral/sign language interpreting services are available on a priority basis, twenty-four hours per day, seven days a week, to its police department.
18. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will ensure that each police station or substation and each jail 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 City will adopt policies permitting inmates who use TTY's a longer period of time to make those calls, due to the slower nature of TTY communications compared with voice communications.
19. 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.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PROCEDURES AND POLICIES
20. If the City 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 City will ensure that the other entity complies with the following provisions on its behalf.
21. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will implement and report to the Department its written procedures that ensure that it regularly solicits and incorporates input from persons with a variety of disabilities and those who serve them regarding all phases of its emergency management plan (preparation, notification, response, and clean up).
22. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the City 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 City 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 City plan should address accessible transportation needs for persons with disabilities.
23. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the City 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.
24. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the City 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).
25. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the City 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.
26. Some of the of the City's emergency shelters may be owned or operated by other public entities subject to title II or by public accommodations subject to title III, such as Weaver High School, Hartford High School, and Bulkeley High School, and 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.
27. To the extent that the City provides opportunities for post-emergency temporary housing to its residents, within three 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 one year of the effective date of this Agreement, 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.
28. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will implement and report to the Department 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 cuts at particular locations.
29. 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 nine 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 remaining intersections of the streets, roads, and highways having curbs or other barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway.
30. Beginning no later than six months after the effective date of this Agreement, the City will 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.
31. 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 nine 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.
32. Beginning no later than six months after the effective date of this Agreement, the City will 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
33. Within three months of the effective date of this Agreement, and on subsequent anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement, 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 this Agreement (it is also available at www.ada.gov/websites2.htm).
34. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, and throughout the life of the Agreement, the City 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
35. The elements or features of the City's facilities that do not comply with the Standards, including those listed in Attachments E, G, I, J, and K, prevent persons 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 and 35.150.
36. The City will comply with the cited provisions of the Standards when taking the actions required by this Agreement.
37. Within fourteen months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City 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.
38. Newly Constructed Facilities: In order to ensure that the following spaces and elements in City facilities, for which construction was commenced after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, the City will take the actions listed in Attachment I.
39. Altered Facilities: In order to ensure that the following spaces and elements in City facilities, for which alterations commenced after January 26, 1992, are readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, the City will take the actions listed in Attachment J.
40. Program Access in City Existing Facilities: In order to ensure that each of the City'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 City will take the actions listed in Attachment K.
41. Access to City Programs Housed in Others' Facilities: In order to ensure that the City programs, services, and activities that are the subject of this Agreement and that are operated by the City 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 City will take the actions listed in Attachment L.
42. Except as otherwise specified in this Agreement, at yearly anniversaries of the effective date of this Agreement until it expires, the City will submit written reports to the Department summarizing the actions the City 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.
43. Throughout the life 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, 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).
44. Within six months of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will develop or procure a two-hour training program on the requirements of the ADA and appropriate ways of serving persons with disabilities. The City 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.
45. Within one year of the effective date of this Agreement, the City will deliver its training program to all City employees who have direct contact with members of the public. At the end of that period, the City will submit a copy of its training curriculum and materials to the Department, along with a list of employees trained and the name, title, and address of the trainer.
IMPLEMENTATION AND ENFORCEMENT
46. If at any time the City 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.
47. The Department may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department believes that the City 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 City 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 City, 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.
48. For purposes of the immediately preceding paragraph, it is a violation of this Agreement for the City 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.
49. 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.
50. 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 City or the Department on request.
51. 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 City's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of the ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
52. This Agreement will remain in effect for nine years.
53. The person signing for the City represents that he or she is authorized to bind the City to this Agreement.
54. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
For the City of Hartford:
MAYOR EDDIE PEREZ
City of Hartford
550 Main Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06103
For the United States:
BRADLEY J. SCHLOZMAN
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
JOHN L. WODATCH, Chief
JEANINE WORDEN, Deputy Chief
MARY LOU MOBLEY, Senior Counsel
JOSH MENDELSOHN, Supervisory Attorney
NATALIE T. SINICROPE, Investigator
MICHELE ANTONIO MALLOZZI, Architect
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Disability Rights Section - NYA
Washington, DC 20530