People with disabilities must have equal access to our civic life. Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been in place for decades, multiple accessibility barriers still exist. The CREEC Accessibility Project fights with urgency to make real the ADA’s promises.
About the Accessibility Project
The Accessibility Project focuses on the following areas:
Physical accessibility including:
- Curb ramps
- Stadiums and other entertainment venues
- Prisons, jails, and immigration detention
- Hotel transportation
Effective communication for Deaf and hard of hearing people including:
- Doctors’ offices and hospitals
- Law enforcement, courts, prisons, jails, and immigration detention
- Captioning including open captioning in stadiums and captioning of online content
- Refusal to accept relay calls
Fair housing including:
- Reasonable accommodations in policies
- Reasonable physical modifications in apartments and condos
- Effective communication
Fast Advocacy for Communication (FAC)
CREEC regularly provides Fast Advocacy for Communication (FAC) to respond quickly when Deaf or hard of hearing people are denied interpreters or other communication needs. For example, if a doctor’s office refuses to provide a sign language interpreter for an upcoming appointment, we can educate that office about the laws requiring effective communication and advocate for them to provide an interpreter to our client. We’re often able to resolve the issue before the client’s appointment.
While many of our fast advocacy efforts focus on communication issues with doctors and hospitals, we also use this approach to address communication barriers in other settings such as live entertainment and government offices. Here’s more information about our FAC program.
If you’ve been refused a sign language interpreter or other auxiliary aid/service necessary for communication at a future appointment or event, email firstname.lastname@example.org for possible FAC.
About the Accessibility Project Director
Martie Lafferty has been practicing disability rights law for two decades. She joined CREEC in March 2019 and is based in our Tennessee office. During her career, Martie has successfully resolved multiple accessibility issues through education, advocacy, negotiation, and litigation. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Disability Rights Bar Association and the Tennessee Fair Housing Council. For more information about Martie, click here.
- Increasing the Accessibility of Cities by Monitoring Consent Decrees. As part of CREEC’s ongoing work to increase the accessibility of cities to people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, we are currently monitoring the compliance of several cities with consent decrees entered in cases where we represented a class of disabled people. Those decrees require cities to install and remediate thousands of ADA compliant curb ramps over multi-year periods. Our monitoring work ensures that these cities are meeting the requirements of the decrees and that the installed and remediated ramps comply with the ADA’s requirements for accessibility. Check out this video about installation activities in Portland, Oregon: LINK (https://youtu.be/W7Jd3fwEyhg)
- Rogers et al. v Colorado Department of Corrections et al.: On September 18, 2019, a Denver federal court ordered the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) to provide videophones for Deaf prisoners. This order ensures that Deaf prisoners will be able to communicate with their family and friends in sign language. For more information about this case, click here.
- Trivette et al. v Tennessee Department of Correction: On March 31, 2020, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) and Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) filed a Complaint in the federal district court for the Middle District of Tennessee on behalf of Mr. Trivette and DRT. The suit is based on violations of federal law that require that state prisons provide inmates in their custody with equal access to programs and services, including providing sign language interpreters and videophones when needed for effective communication, and equal access to phone privileges.
- Lashbrook v City of San Jose: CREEC along with co-counsel Goldstein, Borgen, Dardarian & Ho (GBDH), reached a landmark settlement with the City of San Jose on behalf of a class of persons with mobility disabilities. The settlement requires San Jose to install or remediate over twenty-seven thousand accessible curb ramps throughout the City over the next eighteen years, and to appropriate more than $130 million to fund this work. Importantly, class members are able to request curb ramp construction and remediation at specific locations according to this settlement. The settlement was approved on September 2, 2020.
Conferences & Activities
In April 2019, CREEC enjoyed participating in Wellfest at Bridges in Nashville, TN. In addition to sharing information about CREEC, we were pleased to have impromptu meetings with potential clients.
In August 2019, we attended the Tennessee Disability Coalition’s (TDC) annual policy retreat. We enjoyed talking with other TDC members about policy issues impacting people with disabilities.
On September 22, 2019, CREEC had a booth at Relay Colorado’s Safari Deaf Awareness Day at the Denver Zoo. We shared information about our work, particularly the FAC program.
On October 12, 2019, we had a booth and presented at the DeafNation Expo in Nashville, TN. We shared information about our effective communication work.
For more details about our participation in Safari Deaf Awareness Day and DeafNation Expo, click here.