Technical assistance materials have been developed to help communities immediately come into full compliance with the requirements of Title II, or Subchapter II, of the 1990 act.
"We realize we can't be in every single jurisdiction in this country," says King. "Jurisdictions want to be in compliance but sometimes they just don't have the information or the expertise to come into compliance."ADA technical assistance
Many technical assistance documents can be found at www.ADA.gov. In the center of the site's home page, for example, law enforcement managers and officers can click on ADA Information for Law Enforcement to find information just for them.
"If someone has questions about what they're getting from the Web site, they can call and talk to an ADA specialist, and we help them apply whatever the law requires to their own situation," King says.
About a year ago, the DOJ provided agencies nationwide with information about how to interact with people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Communicating with People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: ADA Guide for Law Enforcement Officers is an eight-panel pocket guide, can now be found on the ADA's Web site, along with a publication titled Model Policy for Law Enforcement on Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, which is a four-page document for agencies to use when they're adopting a policy on effective communication with people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Last year, the department also sent out an eight-part video series titled Police Response to People with Disabilities. The video is available online and is designed for roll call training. It shows law enforcement interactions with people who have mobility disabilities, mental illnesses, mental retardation, epilepsy or seizure disorders, speech disabilities, deafness or hearing impairments, and blindness or low vision. Each video segment is five to 10 minutes long and helps allay fears that could arise when an officer interacts with a person who has a disability with which an officer is unfamiliar. It removes some of the stereotypes associated with disabilities, says King.
"Improving law enforcement response to people with disabilities, for the most part, does not really cost much money," she adds. "It primarily requires training and understanding."
While some materials on the Web site are law enforcement-specific, others are not.
For example, An ADA Guide for Local Governments: Making Community Emergency Preparedness and Response Programs Accessible to People with Disabilities, provides guidance on preparing for and carrying out emergency response programs in a manner that results in the services being accessible to people with disabilities. This guide includes information for others in addition to law enforcement.
Another example of a publication for local governments that can be found at www.ADA.gov is Cities and Counties: First Steps Toward Solving Common ADA Problems. In it, the DOJ says that people with disabilities are commonly counted out of civic programs and activities because it is assumed they will not be able to or will not want to participate. People with disabilities are also often overlooked when governments build facilities or design programs without thinking about potential accessibility obstacles. Removing barriers to access in pre-ADA facilities — or moving programs from pre-ADA facilities to newer and more accessible facilities or even providing those programs in alternately accessible ways — will ensure full and independent participation opportunities for people with disabilities while minimizing costs, the DOJ explains.Physical barriers
Common problems causing physical barriers are numerous and, according to the DOJ, happen when: