TYLER, TEXAS – The Eastern District of Texas announced today that it had reached a cooperative resolution agreement under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with Smith County, Texas to ensure individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired can communicate as effectively as others.
This matter was initiated upon receipt of a complaint filed with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, by an individual who is hearing impaired. The complaint alleged that Smith County, which provides services, programs, and activities in its county courthouse, failed to take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with the deaf and hearing-impaired are as effective as communications between the non-hearing impaired.
The ADA requires that public entities, like Smith County, furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services, when necessary, to afford individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity, including those in a courthouse.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas reviewed Smith County’s courthouse policies, training, and procedures relating to the provision of auxiliary aids and services to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing and determined they did not fully comply with Title II of the ADA. The United States—along with Smith County—identified the areas of non-compliance and cooperatively implemented the resolution.
Under the Agreement, Smith County is updating its website to ensure the site contains sufficient information to inform persons with impaired vison or hearing how and where to access auxiliary aids or services. Smith County will provide Title II training relating to the provision of auxiliary aids or services to the courthouse staff to ensure all individuals can participate in the services, programs, and activities offered by Smith County; and Smith County will ensure sufficient auxiliary aids or services are available at the courthouse as required by the 2010 ADA Standards.
“Deaf and hearing-impaired individuals are entitled to full and equal opportunities to effectively communicate with, and to benefit from, all services, programs and activities,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “We commend Smith County for their full cooperation with this investigation, and their commitment to ensuring that deaf and hearing-impaired community members are provided effective communication and auxiliary services.”
For more information about the ADA, please visit http://www.ada.gov or call toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY). ADA complaints may be filed online at http://www.ada.gov/complaint.
This matter was investigated by the Civil Rights Enforcement Coordinator for the Eastern District of Texas Assistant U.S. Attorney Aimee M. Cooper as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Betty Young.