Spokane – Sunday, July 26, 2020, marks the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (the ADA), a critical civil rights law that aims to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington is proud to play an essential role in the United States Department of Justice’s enforcement efforts under the ADA, which was signed into law on July 26, 1990, and is the nation’s preeminent civil rights law for providing access and equal opportunity for people with disabilities.
United States Attorney William D. Hyslop said, “The ADA is landmark legislation that has improved the lives of millions of Americans. The ADA has broken down barriers and attacked discrimination at its root. It has led to significant accessibility improvements in buildings, programs, voting, and travel that were otherwise inaccessible. It has transformed discrimination into equality for over 60 million, or nearly 1 in 4, individuals in the United States with a disability. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington has vigorously investigated and, when necessary, prosecuted violations of the ADA when brought to our attention. On this 30th Anniversary of the ADA, let us reflect on the many ways the ADA has transformed our community for the better, and how it can continue to do so in the future.”
Some examples of ADA enforcement work in the Eastern District of Washington (EDWA) conducted by the United States Attorney’s office in conjunction with the Civil Rights Division include:
• Project civic access: review of public buildings for accessibility and compliance with the ADA in Spokane and Yakima. See e.g., : https://www.ada.gov/yakima_co_pca/yakima_sa.html;
• Multiple investigations of hospitals and health clinics to ensure they are providing effective communication for people who are deaf or have hearing loss, and also physical access to medical care for people with mobility disabilities. See e.g., https://www.ada.gov/astria_sa.html;
• Compliance with disability access and ADA accommodation standards in rental properties. See e.g., U.S. v. Riexinger Enterprises, Inc., et al (EDWA 2018); U.S. v. Christensen (EDWA 2020);
• Investigations of numerous other referred complaints concerning the denial of services to individuals accompanied by service animals; non-compliant parking; inaccessible entrances and doors; or the lack of assistive devices. These investigations have resulted in improvements to access and accommodation at EDWA hotels, swimming facilities, county fairs, movie theaters, restaurants and more.
The promise of the ADA is its wide-ranging efforts to eliminate disability discrimination across the range of services, programs, and activities that most Americans take for granted, but were largely inaccessible to individuals with disabilities prior to the law’s enactment. Whether in employment, areas of civic life, or in the day-to-day activities and access to goods and services that we all enjoy – the ADA ensures that individuals with disabilities enjoy the same opportunities as all Americans to participate in everything this nation has to offer.
Over the past 30 years, the United States has undertaken the challenge of changing perceptions about disability, tearing down barriers to equality, and altering the systems that have historically excluded people with disabilities. Today, the Justice Department commemorates the many ways that the ADA has transformed society—by replacing exclusion with access, segregation with integration, and limitations with self-determination.
The ADA has advanced the promise of the American dream, ensuring that people with disabilities can write their own stories. And as a society, we are better and stronger because of the contributions that people with disabilities make.
For more information about the 30th Anniversary of the ADA, please visit www.ada.gov. To file a complaint with the Department, please visit the Civil Rights Division’s portal at https://civilrights.justice.gov/report/. For more information about the ADA, call the Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TTY).
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.