After negotiations following a years-long lawsuit against the District of Columbia (DC), several disability advocacy groups and the district announced a settlement Tuesday, with the district agreeing to a number of significant improvements for thousands of residents and visitors with disabilities.
United Spinal Association, DC Center for Independent Living, and two District residents with disabilities sued in 2014 alleging that DC’s emergency preparedness failed to meet the standards of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act.
As part of a three-year plan, D.C. promises to:
- Create a seat at the table for a Disability Community Advisory Group including a coordinator who will be able to provide disability-specific recommendations for emergency plans and trainings
- Ensure emergency-related public communications are disseminated in accessible formats, such as auxiliary aids and services at post-disaster sites
- Consider physical accessibility as a priority when opening emergency shelters, and going through current shelters to ensure accessibility
- Create a Post-Emergency Canvassing Operation plan
- Ensure that transportation resources are sufficient to meet the potential demand for accessible transportation during emergencies, and
- Create and implement a work plan to improve procedures for evacuating people with disabilities from high-rise buildings.