ADA Self-Evaluation Deadline Needs Immediate Attention

Article excerpt

As of January 26, 1993, cities were to have completed their self-evaluations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The self-evaluation process should prove to be a valuable tool in helping city officials meet their ongoing responsibility to comply with Title II of the ADA However, the timing of the self-evaluation requirement--a full year after the law became effective in January, 1992--is out of sequential sync.

City officials have had to cope with implementation of ADA without knowing what changes had to made, resulting from their self assessment process which is due next week.

Conducting a comprehensive self evaluation is critical for effective compliance, because it enables city officials to review all programs, services, and activities in terms of their availability (including employment opportunities) to qualified persons with disabilities living in their communities. The self-evaluation document becomes the blueprint for rectifying discriminatory practices throughout all city functions and activities.

The key purpose of the self-evaluation is to identify those changes in the city's practices and policies that will eliminate potential discrimination. If the local government can justify any exclusionary or limiting policies, those should be documented in the self-evaluation document. Of course, if a city ADA coordinator identifies a discriminatory practice, an amended policy should drafted immediately to eliminate the practice or out-dated policy.

The Department of Justice sets forth a series of questions that cities should address in preparing their self-evaluation. In a nutshell, Justice wants all programs, activities, and services, including employment, structures, historic preservation, public meetings, etc., to be accessible to all persons with all impairments. The questions can be found in the Title II Technical Assistance Manual prepared by the Office of ADA in the Civil Rights Division at DOJ.

Since DOJ only mentions some of the more common impairments, such es mobility, hearing, and vision, it is important that the ADA coordinator remind city officials that all disabilities are covered, including learning disabilities, mental impairments, or AIDS. …