On May 16, 2006, the Department will host a discussion of the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements for multi-family housing at the Marriott Atlanta Marquis in Atlanta, Georgia. The program is part of a nationwide “Multi-Family Housing Access Forum” that the Department launched last spring. Its purpose is to help building professionals understand their legal obligations when designing and constructing multi-family housing and to celebrate partnerships that have successfully produced accessible multi-family housing in which everyone profits developers and consumers alike. Expected to participate are developers and building professionals, government officials, individuals with disabilities, and those who work on their behalf. The last Access Forum was held in Dallas in mid-November 2005. To learn more about the program, visit www.usdoj.gov/fairhousing. To receive an invitation, e-mail the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 1, 2006, the Justice Department filed suit against the State of New York alleging violations of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The Department contends that the state has failed to comply with two of HAVA’s requirements governing federal elections: (1) states must adopt voting systems that are fully accessible by disabled voters and are capable of generating a permanent paper record that can be manually audited, and (2) states must create a statewide computerized voter registration database.
On January 10, 2006, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in United States vs. Georgia that a prisoner could proceed with his ADA suit for damages against the State of Georgia alleging conduct that would constitute “cruel and unusual punishment” as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. The Court did not address whether title II of the ADA provides broader protection of the rights of prisoners than does the Constitution.
DEPARTMENT CEREMONY RECOGNIZES NORTH CAROLINA ACCESSIBILITY CODE
Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, participated in the ceremony with several North Carolina officials and recognized the state for meeting or exceeding the ADA accessibility requirements for new construction and alterations. “Securing ADA certification benefits both the citizens and businesses of North Carolina,” said Assistant Attorney General Kim. “Now individuals with disabilities can expect greater access to their community, while architects and builders will have more confidence that by following state law, they are also complying with federal ADA requirements.”
The ceremony also honored Ronald L. Mace, FAIA, an architect and North Carolinian who developed the first North Carolina Accessibility Code over thirty years ago. Mace gave numerous presentations during the 1970s-1990s teaching people about accessible and universal design and played key roles in the development of numerous state and federal accessibility standards and guidelines. His intellectual and architectural contributions helped further the concept of equal opportunity on which the ADA is built.
MEMPHIS AREA McDONALD'S WILL BECOME ACCESSIBLE
AMC STADIUM-STYLE MOVIE THEATERS ORDERED TO BECOME ACCESSIBLEAMC stadium-style movie theaters nationwide will be made accessible under a January 10, 2006, ruling in United States v. AMC Entertainment, Inc., et al., (C.D. Cal.). Previously, AMC was found in violation of the ADA for failing to locate wheelchair and companion seating in the stadium sections of its stadium-style movie theaters. After attempts to reach an agreement with AMC on retrofits for existing theaters and other remedies proved unsuccessful, the Department filed a motion for summary judgment and a proposed remedial order, which the court endorsed in its entirety. The order requires AMC to: (1) perform specified modifications in nearly 1,200 noncompliant stadium-style auditoriums nationwide, including building ramps in about 350 of these auditoriums; (2) ensure that any new stadium-style theaters built by AMC over the next five years conform to specified design standards, including the Department’s interpretation of line-of-sight requirements; (3) pay $200,000 in total monetary relief to complainants; and (4) pay $50,000 in civil penalties for each of two AMC defendants.
“Providing the same movie going experience for individuals in wheelchairs that other patrons enjoy delivers on the promise of the ADA,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “These improvements will make the goals of the ADA a reality for thousands of Americans who want to enjoy this popular form of entertainment.”
DEPARTMENT BRIEF ARGUES
THAT ALL PUBLIC ENTITIES MUST MAKE EXISTING
ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL KIM
CO-HOSTS ADA BUSINESS CONNECTION MEETING IN FLORIDA
McDONALD'S RESTAURANT IN ALABAMA WILL WELCOME SERVICE ANIMALS
IDAHO APARTMENT COMPLEX TO ADD ACCESSIBILITY FEATURES
DC APARTMENT OWNER AND MANAGER WILL CEASE DISCRIMINATING
AGAINST GUIDE-DOG USERS
The number of Lanterman residents placed into the community recently has trickled to only a handful each year. In contrast, several dozen Lanterman residents had been placed into the community each year throughout the late 1990’s. In our letter, we noted that fiscal limitations effectively place an artificial ceiling on the number of institutionalized residents that may be placed out of the facility in any given year. This, in turn, chills the Lanterman interdisciplinary teams from recommending community placement for residents who might benefit from that setting but for whom there are no transition funds. The letter sets forth minimal remedial measures to address the deficiencies cited.
The Department has made similar findings with regard to two other State facilities, the Agnews Developmental Center and the Sonoma Developmental Center. The Department is currently pursuing remedial relief for residents of all three of these facilities.
In this issue, we focus on complaints involving accessible parking spaces that are blocked or misused by non-disabled people.
In Maryland, a person who uses a wheelchair complained that vehicles often block the curb ramp leading to a restaurant entrance. In addition to increasing the width of the curb ramp to ensure it would not be blocked by legally parked vehicles, the restaurant also agreed to adjust the closers on the entrance and restroom doors, to remove the vestibule door, to provide wheelchair access to the food order line and the dining tables, and to remove a partition in the restroom to increase access.
In New York, an individual with a mobility disability complained that mall security did not respond when she informed them that her car was blocked by a vehicle illegally parked in the access aisle. The director of mall security agreed to instruct all security staff on procedures to follow when a car is parked illegally in an accessible parking space or access lane.
In Pennsylvania, a person who uses a wheelchair complained that an amusement park allowed vehicles to park improperly in accessible spaces. The amusement park agreed to provide ADA training for all seasonal staff on ensuring appropriate use of accessible parking. The park also increased the number of accessible spaces by more than 60%, including van-accessible spaces, and installed appropriate signage.
In Tennessee, two people with disabilities complained that a union violated the ADA when it covered signs identifying existing accessible parking spaces and used them for other purposes during a union-sponsored public car show. The union agreed to provide accessible parking during its activities and install signage stating that cars illegally parked in accessible parking spaces would be towed and a fine assessed. Both parties agreed to write articles for a union publication on the union’s commitment to provide access to individuals with disabilities.
In Virginia, a person who uses a wheelchair complained that a hospital did not provide accessible parking near the main entrance, the existing parking in the rear lot was difficult to find due to poor lighting, and unauthorized vehicles were allowed to park in accessible spaces. The hospital created additional accessible parking at both the front and rear entrances, created a curb cut to provide access from the parking lot to the hospital entrances, increased exterior lighting to enhance the visibility of accessible parking in the rear lot, and adopted a policy to monitor use of accessible parking by unauthorized drivers and to notify local police to ticket those who were illegally parked.
On February 21-24, Division staff participated in an event in San Francisco, California, conducted by the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, under contract with the National Council on Disability (NCD), to learn from entities covered by title III of the ADA of their experiences implementing the Act. NCD will issue a report to the Congress and the President later this year about the implementation of title III of the ADA. Representatives from Wells Fargo, the California Hotel and Lodging Association, small business representatives from the San Francisco area, advocates, and others participated in the four-day event.
On February 28, Division staff gave two presentations at an Advance Employment Law Seminar presented by the Southern California chapter of the American Corporate Counsel Association in Los Angeles, California. This is a professional association for corporate in-house counsel. The presentations addressed service animals and EEOC’s guidance on cancer as a disability.
On March 2, Division staff made several presentations at the ADA/ABA and California Accessibility Conference held in the Bill Gramm Auditorium in San Francisco, California. The conference was sponsored by the Mayor’s Office on Disability for the City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The conference was attended by approximately 150 architects and state and local government employees.
On March 6-9, Division staff made several presentations at the annual conference of the National Association of ADA Coordinators in Miami, Florida. Topics included the fundamentals of title II, case law updates, strategies for compliance and avoiding litigation, and emergency preparedness and management issues.
On March 8, Division staff participated in a webcast sponsored by the Disability Law Resource Project, a project funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, to provide information about Project Civic Access. The event was broadcast over the web to 150 sites.
On March 14, Division staff made a presentation at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the requirements of the ADA and recent implementation successes. The World Bank is taking steps to ensure that it takes accessibility into account when funding development projects worldwide.
April 20, 2006