Category: In The News

DOJ Joins ADA Lawsuit Over Chicago’s Non-Compliant Crosswalks

City of Chicago crosswalk is not ADA compliant.

The Justice Department has joined a lawsuit against the City of Chicago that alleges the City has not made the majority of its crosswalks accessible to people who are blind, deaf-blind, or have low vision.

The DOJ states the City is required to install accessible pedestrian signals that give audio or tactile cues when it’s safe to cross the street in order to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. According to the DOJ, the City of Chicago has just 15 of those signals out of 2,700 crosswalks with visual signals.

Continue reading this story at https://news.wttw.com/2021/04/13/justice-department-joins-lawsuit-over-accessibility-chicago-crosswalks.

This story was originally written and produced by Nick Blumberg and WTTW Public Broadcasting.

BlueDAG University – Using Fast Finder

In this video, Victor Felix, BlueDAG’s Director of Content and Compliance, teaches viewers how to use BlueDAG’s Fast Finder tool.

BlueDAG is now offering Fast Finder for free to anyone who wants it.

Free Fast Finder Signup

  • Terms and Conditions * Required
    ADA Fast Finder is governed by BlueDAG's terms and conditions found at https://www.bluedag.com/legal/

Disabled People Had An Easier Time Voting In 2020, But Millions Still Had Issues

Two major obstacles disabled people face while voting in person are waiting in lines and accessing voting sites. (File photo from Nov. 8, 1988, Denver, Colorado)

BETTMANN ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAGES — Two major obstacles disabled people face while voting in person are waiting in lines and accessing voting sites.

Disabled Americans had less trouble voting in the 2020 elections than in prior years, according to research published last week by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The EAC report shows that the gap between disabled and nondisabled voters who experienced problems while voting has narrowed significantly. In 2020, 11.4% disabled voters reported having problems versus 6.4% of nondisabled voters. This drop is noteworthy in comparison to a similar report conducted in 2012 that found that 26.1% of disabled voters versus 7.4% of nondisabled voters reported having trouble.

This means one in nine disabled respondents said they had trouble voting in 2020, according to the report.

Continue reading at https://www.huffpost.com/entry/disabled-people-had-easier-time-voting-in-2020-but-millions-still-had-issues-report_n_6034102dc5b67c32961fc93f.

This story was written by Elyse Wanshel and published in The Huffington Post on February 22, 2021.

ADA Suit Over Chicago Shelters Moves Forward

U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois

U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois

The City of Chicago can’t evade a disability-discrimination suit brought by a woman who alleges emergency shelters are not accessible, a federal judge held Wednesday (February 17, 2021). In a written opinion, U.S. District Judge Franklin Valderrama declined to throw out Gloria Carter’s lawsuit accusing the City of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act. The City operates an emergency shelter program for people facing homelessness.

The full story can be read at https://www.chicagolawbulletin.com/suit-over-emergency-shelter-program-gets-ok-20210218.

A copy of the official opinion and order from Judge Valderrama regarding Carter v. City of Chicago can be found at https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/illinois/ilndce/1:2020cv01083/373622/46/.

This story was written by Patricia Manson and published in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

New Research Shows Many Local Governments May Lack Strong ADA Title II Transition Plans

Three people inspecting a curb ramp at a street intersection

A recent study conducted by the Great Lakes ADA Regional Center, and funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, indicated some local government’s ADA Title II Transition Plans may be lacking.

Researchers used a sample of 401 cities, counties or townships with at least 50 full-time employees. The researchers carefully reviewed each plan to identify which of the required elements were included.

What researchers found was surprising given the Americans with Disability Act just entered its third decade as a legal requirement:

  • 54 of the 401 municipalities (13%) had an ADA transition plan available to the public.
  • 28 municipalities (7%) reported having plans in progress.
  • 32 published the transition plan on their websites while 22 others made it available upon request.
  • By region, the highest percentage (17%) of municipalities with transition plans are located in the Midwest.
  • The northeast region had the lowest percentage of municipalities with transition plans (3%).
  • Of the 54 municipalities with transition plans, only 40 addressed the public right-of-way.
  • 14 plans only addressed access to government buildings.
  • Of the 40 plans that addressed the public right-of-way, only 7 met all of the minimum criteria required by the ADA.
  • Less than half of the plans included a specific schedule for barrier removal.
  • Only 12 transition plans included a detailed process for monitoring and periodic reporting on progress toward barrier removal.

Please visit the National Rehabilitation Information Center’s website for more information on this and other ADA related studies.

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Gates Chili Central School District for ADA Violations

Brown service dog with blue vest The Justice Department reached an agreement with the Gates Chili Central School District in Rochester, New York, to resolve the Department’s lawsuit alleging disability discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Department’s complaint alleges the School District denied a student with disabilities equal access to school by conditioning her use of a service dog on her parent providing a full-time dog handler, despite the student’s demonstrated ability to control her service dog.

Under the settlement agreement, the School District revised its Service Animal Policy and agreed to provide reasonable modifications to facilitate the use of a service dog by a student with a disability. Such modifications include the types of minimal assistance the School District refused to provide the student in this case, such as helping to tether or untether a service dog, assisting a student to get water for a service dog, and prompting a student to issue commands to a service dog.

Continue reading at: https://www.ada.gov/gateschili/gates-chili_sa.html

Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Ridgewood Preparatory School for ADA Violations

Seal of the United States Department of Justice

The Justice Department entered into a settlement agreement with Ridgewood Preparatory School (Ridgewood) under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Ridgewood is a private, nonsectarian school that provides education to children in prekindergarten to twelfth grade. The agreement resolves allegations that Ridgewood violated the ADA by denying a child with spina bifida admission to its pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs on the basis of his disability, failing to reasonably modify its policies, practices, and procedures to enable the child to access the school’s programs, and failing to ensure that its buildings and facilities are accessible to people with disabilities. The Department’s investigation found that the school, among other things, had inaccessible doors, walkways, and bathrooms.

The three-year agreement requires Ridgewood to offer two years of tuition-free enrollment to the child and, upon enrollment, provide him with reasonable modifications. Ridgewood will also modify its facilities to make them accessible to individuals with disabilities, revise its policies to ensure compliance with the ADA, train relevant staff, and pay a $1,000 civil penalty to the United States.

Continue reading at https://www.ada.gov/ridgewood_prep_sa.html.

Two Municipalities Make Progress on Their ADA Transition Plans

Pierce County Curb at WallerThis has been a good month for ADA accessibility as two municipalities have made progress in bringing their facilities and public right-of-way into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Last week, Pierce County, Washington, approved its transition plan for county-owned facilities and public right-of-way. As with all local municipalities, Pierce County was required under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act to conduct self-evaluations of its facilities, public right-of-way, and programs and services, and integrate the findings into its ADA Transition Plan.

According to Pierce County News, “Pierce County’s Americans with Disabilities Act Public Rights-of-Way Self-Evaluation Report, which was completed in 2015, included the examination of county policies related to the ADA and an inventory that identified whether existing pedestrian facilities were in compliance with the ADA. This inventory was initially completed in 2015 and is updated as new facilities are built or improved.”

The City of Warrensburg, Missouri, also approved their ADA Transition Plan last week.

During the Warrensburg City Council meeting to approve the Transition Plan, Warrensburg Building Official Brett Penrose said, “The ADA Transition Plan is required by the ADA law of 1990. Starting in the spring of last year, we inspected all city-owned properties, including 13 buildings, nine parks and seven parking lots with the idea of inspecting previously identified ADA compliance issues as well as looking at new violations that may have come up since our last update.”

Penrose continued, “When we go out to look, to reinspect, I don’t just go out and look at what I’ve already identified. I’m out there to look with fresh eyes to look at the whole building or park.”

These two municipalities are great examples of local governments taking the lead and making the investments to not only come into compliance with the ADA, but also ensure their communities are accessible to all residents and visitors.

Sources:
Pierce County Council approves plan to bring existing pedestrian facilities into ADA compliance
The Suburban Times / Pierce County News
February 13, 2020
https://thesubtimes.com/2020/02/13/pierce-county-council-approves-plan-to-bring-existing-pedestrian-facilities-into-ada-compliance/

City Council approves ADA Transition Plan resolution
Daily Star-Journal
February 13, 2020
http://www.dailystarjournal.com/news/local/city-council-approves-ada-transition-plan-resolution/article_08fbbe6a-4dc1-11ea-a34b-e7e5b2ee9f41.html

MTA Plan Expands List of NY Subway Stations to get Accessibility Improvements

Subway station with stairs

Accessibility and compliance with the ADA was front and center for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in 2019. With as many as four lawsuits challenging the MTA’s subway accessibility record the MTA has been working to correct the situation. In a series of announcements the MTA, the largest public transit authority in the United States, has expanded on its original accessibility improvement plan.

On April 20, 2018: “The MTA Board approved a capital plan amendment today that significantly increases the agency’s investment in ADA accessibility projects as part of the 2015-2019 MTA capital plan.”

On September 19, 2019: “MTA Commuter Railroads Announce the Addition of 11 ADA-Accessible Stations as Part of 2020-2024 Capital Plan”

Most recently on December 19, 2019: “MTA Announces 20 Additional Subway Stations to Receive Accessibility Improvements Under Proposed 2020-2024 Capital Plan”

Public transportation is a major resource for people of all abilities and with our aging population it is sure to see even greater demand in the years to come. Funding such long term initiatives is frequently a challenge. A challenge the MTA is taking head on, setting a foundation for a more inclusive and accessible public transportation in the future.

Sources: MTA Press Releases
http://www.mta.info/press-release/mta-headquarters/mta-board-approves-additional-funding-subway-station-ada
http://www.mta.info/press-release/mta-headquarters/mta-commuter-railroads-announce-addition-11-ada-accessible-stations
http://www.mta.info/press-release/mta-headquarters/mta-announces-20-additional-subway-stations-receive-accessibility

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