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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 county representatives from Summers County, West Virginia, in recognition of their efforts to make Summers County 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 Summers County, its officials, and its residents with disabilities for the actions they have taken to make the county courthouse and other basic buildings and services more accessible to people with disabilities.”

Also recognized at the meeting were the actions of three other communities, Fernandina Beach, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; and Springfield, Missouri, including the City of Springfield, the Springfield Library, as well as the Springfield Utilities.

“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 Summers County 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.

The Department entered into a Settlement Agreement with Summers County on May 11, 2000, making it the first entity with which the Department reached an agreement as part of Project Civic Access. Under the Settlement Agreement, the County has made structural alterations to County buildings and is in the process of doing more. The County has installed a ramp to provide access to the Courthouse. The County has also adopted and publicized its policies concerning effective communication, employment accommodation, and accessibility of courthouse proceedings.

One key feature of the agreement is Summers County’s commitment to an innovative approach: the County will construct an elevator to link the two main county buildings: (1) the Courthouse, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and (2) the Memorial Building, built by the depression-era Work Projects Administration.

In conjunction with today’s meeting, the Division is featuring a story and photographs on Summers County and its residents in a special anniversary display on the Department’s ADA Home Page,

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 or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD).



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July 31, 2002