Court Program Accessibility (ADA and Washington State Information)
The Washington State Courts are required, under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Washington State Supreme Court General Rule 33 (GR 33) and RCW. 49.60 - The Washington State Law Against Discrimination to provide accommodations to individuals with disabilities in an effort to provide them access to any activities that are afforded the general public.
This requirement can seem daunting at times—requiring a clear understanding of who is and is not covered under the law, the definitions of physical and mental disabilities, what constitutes an accommodation and what information and technology is available to make those accommodations. The Court Access Programs section of the Judicial Services Division of the Administrative Office of the Courts, has prepared this guide to help individual courts evaluate their current systems and to develop plans to improve those systems. Washington Courts need to be fully compliant with the requirements of the ADA, not only because it is the law, but because equal access to justice is a fundamental right.
This guide will:
This Guide is intended as a resource for Washington judges, administrative law judges and hearing officers, court administrators, and court staff as we work to eliminate barriers presented by our buildings and our practices.
The Guide focuses on visual, hearing/communication, mobility, and cognitive disabilities, and aims to 1) give a basic understanding of how these disabilities may affect access, 2) clarify what the law requires of courts, and 3) help courts provide effective access. The Guide identifies common barriers for people with disabilities, discusses our obligations as judges and court personnel, identifies some approaches to solving common problems, and recommends steps for compliance.
Useful information, resources and bibliography may be found in the Appendix.
The Committee emphasizes that the Guide is a guide — within the constraints of the law, judges have wide discretion in this area. Our intent is to assist judges with information for exercising their discretion, and to assist court managers and staff with information and resources.
The Access to Justice Technology Principles were developed by the Access to Justice Board to ensure that technology enhances rather than diminishes access to and the quality of justice for all persons in Washington State. Comments of the Access to Justice Board committee drafters accompanying the Principles make clear the intent that the Principles are to be used so as to be practical and effective for both the workers in and user of the justice system, that the Principles do not create or constitute the basis for new causes of action or create unfunded mandates.
These Principles have been endorsed by the Board for Judicial Administration, the Judicial Information System Committee, the Board of Trustees of the Superior Court Judges' Association, the Board of Governors of the Washington State Bar Association, the Minority and Justice Commission, the Gender and Justice Commission, the Attorney General, and the Council on Public Legal Education.
As part of the initial conception of any new technology initiatives, the ATJ Technology Principles should be used as a screening tool in the development of the business case. Use this document to determine whether the initiative would conform to or support the ATJ Technology Principles.
This technical assistance manual addresses the requirements of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which applies to the operations of State and local governments. It is one of a series of publications issued by Federal agencies under section 506 of the ADA to assist individuals and entities in understanding their rights and duties under the Act.
This manual is part of a broader program of technical assistance conducted by the Department of Justice to promote voluntary compliance with the requirements not only of title II, but also of title III of the ADA, which applies to public accommodations, commercial facilities, and private entities offering certain examinations and courses.
The purpose of this technical assistance manual is to present the ADA's requirements for State and local governments in a format that will be useful to the widest possible audience. The guidance provided in the Department's regulations and accompanying preambles has been carefully reorganized to provide a focused, systematic description of the ADA's requirements.
The Tool Kit is designed to teach state and local government officials how to identify and fix problems that prevent people with disabilities from gaining equal access to state and local government programs, services, and activities.
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