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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, 2002
WWW.USDOJ.GOV
CR
(202) 514-2007
TDD (202) 514-1888

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT TO MEET WITH SPRINGFIELD OFFICIALS
AS PART OF INITIATIVE TO ENSURE CIVIC ACCESS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES


WASHINGTON, D.C. - On July 24, 2002, Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson and Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., met with city representatives, community advocates, and residents with disabilities from Springfield, Missouri, including the City of Springfield, the Springfield Library, and Springfield Utilities, Missouri, in recognition of their efforts to make Springfield more accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. The meeting held in Washington commemorates the signing into law of the ADA twelve years ago by President George H.W. Bush.

“Ensuring participation in everyday civic life for people with disabilities is a key requirement in President Bush’s New Freedom Initiative,” said Deputy Attorney General Larry D. Thompson. “We at the Department are pleased to recognize the City of Springfield, its officials, and its residents with disabilities for the actions they have taken to make the City’s basic buildings, libraries, and parks more accessible to people with disabilities.”

Also recognized at the meeting were three other communities, Fernandina Beach, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and Summers County, West Virginia.

“I commend these cities for literally opening doors to all Americans,” said Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “We are committed to expanding Project Civic Access and mirroring these successes throughout the country.”

Today’s meeting recognizes the actions of Springfield in complying with the ADA under the Department’s Project Civic Access, a wide-ranging initiative to ensure that state facilities, counties, cities, towns, and villages comply with the ADA. The Project was initiated to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in civic life, a fundamental part of American society. As part of the Project, Departmental investigators surveyed state and local government facilities and programs across the country for the purpose of negotiating modifications needed to comply with ADA requirements. To date, 51 governments across the nation, have agreed to make changes to make themselves more accessible.

Springfield has agreed to:

  • include on notices for all City Council and other City Committee meetings information that reasonable accommodations will be provided to anyone wishing to attend and participate with 3 days prior notice;

  • provide training to its employees who interact or communicate with the public, establish or implement programs, or maintain facilities;

  • alter city parks to provide increased numbers of accessible parking spaces, provide accessible routes, make modifications to restrooms, and add signs to provide access to persons with disabilities; and

  • make physical modifications to Old City Hall, the Public Health Center, the Police Department, Oak Park Community Center and other public facilities so that routes into and through the facilities, entrances, public telephones, restrooms, changing rooms, service counters, and drinking fountains are accessible to persons with disabilities.

The settlement agreement will remain in effect for five years from September 19, 2001, or until the parties agree that full compliance has been achieved.

The Department of Justice initiated a compliance review of Springfield, Missouri, in November, 1999. An on-site survey of the City’s buildings and services was conducted January 26 through 28, 2000. The facilities covered in the agreement include the Busch Municipal Building, Solid Waste Management Office, Vision 20/20 Building, Police Department, Springfield-Greene County Public Health Center, Old City Hall, Springfield Art Museum, Grant Beach Park Police Substation, the Parks and Recreation Administration Building, Horton Smith Golf Course, Nathanael Greene Park, L.E. Meador Park and Pool, Oak Grove Community Center, Division of Purchases Building, Municipal Court Building, Dickerson Park Zoo, Silver Springs Park, Nichols Park, and Living Memorial Park.

In conjunction with today’s meeting, the Division is featuring a story and photographs on Springfield and its residents in a special anniversary display on the Department’s ADA Home Page, www.ada.gov.

Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in the programs, services, and activities of state and local governments. Public entities must make reasonable modifications in policies that deny equal access, provide effective communication, and make their programs accessible through the removal of barriers or through alternate methods of program delivery, unless an undue burden or fundamental alteration of the program would result.

People interested in finding out more about the ADA can access the ADA home page at www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD).


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July 31, 2002