What is ADA?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990. Shortly thereafter, the word “handicapped” was replaced with disabled. The Monroe County School District School System is covered under Title I (Employment), Title II (State and Local Government).
Title I, effective July 26, 1992, Title II, effective January 26, 1992, and Title IV, effective January 1994, cover all programs and services administered by the Monroe County School District, extending federal civil rights protection to students, staff, parents, and visitors who qualify as disabled. ADA was built upon the basis of two strong laws—the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Section 504, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The ADA affords civil rights protection to individuals who are disabled comparable to those given on the basis of race, religion, sex, and age. By breaking down or removing barriers, society is able to benefit from the skills and talents of all individuals, including those with disabilities.
Under the requirements for ADA and Section 504 legislation, the Monroe County School District is required to ensure that all programs and services provided by the system are available to those who are disabled. These requirements apply as soon as the need is known. The ADA Compliance Office was established to ensure that facilities throughout the School District are accessible to all individuals. The programmatic implementation rests in the area of special services.
Though the law specifies that not all buildings must be accessible, all programs and services must comply with ADA. Currently, the Monroe County School District is working on a plan to be reviewed annually by the ADA/Section 504 Advisory Committee to determine which ADA-related projects need to be prioritized. Emergency situations, when they arise, get moved to the top of the need’s list.
The Compliance Office is staffed with an ADA Compliance Specialist who routinely visits school sites to check on ADA issues, answer questions, help develop accessible playgrounds, and develop, coordinate, and implement the Monroe County School District 504/ADA Manual. In addition, the ADA Specialist counsels employees with disabilities as necessary and is available to assist anyone with questions about access and ensure that staff and the community have access to the most current ADA-related materials.
The ADA Compliance Office also maintains a library of resources and publications related to ADA, available to Monroe County School District staff, as well as the general public. Alternate formats are available with 72 hour prior notice to the ADA Office.