To help agencies determine if they are fully compliant with federal disabilities regulations, the ADA offers checklists in its publication, ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments. The tool kit, available online, provides practical guidance and action steps.
"One of the points that we try to emphasize is that, for the most part, most things can be done relatively easily once agencies are made aware of what needs to be done," King says. She gives an example: People frequently don't understand how to deal with someone who has had a seizure or who might be in the middle of having a seizure. With education and understanding, unnecessary restraints or unnecessary detainment can be eliminated.
The DOJ encourages state and local government officials to use the tool kit to learn:
- How to survey facilities and identify common architectural barriers for people with disabilities.
- How to identify red flags indicating that their programs, services, activities and facilities may have common ADA compliance problems.
- How to remove the barriers and fix common ADA compliance problems.
State and local governments are not required to use the tool kit but they are required to comply with Title II of the ADA. The tool kit helps state and local officials begin to set up an accessibility audit.
Chapter 1 addresses "ADA Basics: Statute and Regulations." Chapter 2 is titled "ADA Coordinator, Notice & Grievance Procedure: Administrative Requirements Under Title II of the ADA." Chapters 3 and 4 address ensuring effective communications. Chapter 5 looks at Web site accessibility. Chapter 6 is titled "Curb Ramps and Pedestrian Crossings," and Chapter 7 looks at emergency management.
More chapters of the tool kit are in progress. After all of the chapters of the tool kit are finished this fall, the DOJ plans to conduct train-the-trainer-type seminars.
"We need to constantly be vigilant and do as much as we can," King says. "Law enforcement services are very important. Unnecessary detainment or incarceration are things you really want to avoid. With more training and more knowledge out there, we hope we can do a better job."
Rebecca Kanable is a freelance writer specializing in law enforcement topics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.