The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990. Since then, community efforts to achieve ADA compliance have been uneven. Any community that receives federal funds, however, is required to be compliant or risk losing their funding. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is is committed to ensuring federal funding recipients meet the requirements and keep their funding, and they have undertaken an audit process to identify communities that may need to perform a self-assessment and prepare an ADA Transition Plan. We reached out to their Title VI Officer, Ashley Council, to get answers to the top 6 most common questions about ADA transition plans.
Question #1: Is there a specific deadline when all governmental agencies have to have their transition plans complete and submitted to your office?
Answer: There is no specific deadline for completion. I work with each municipality and, as long as there is positive progress and communication with me on their part, I will work with them in any way that I can to allow them to thoroughly self-evaluate. We want this done right, not fast. We are also aware that this is not an inexpensive process.
Question #2: Are these dates different for different sized agencies or the populations they serve?
Answer: As long as there is communication with me, each municipality is dealt with on a case-by-case bases.
Question #3: Is there a list of agencies that have completed this process/or a list of agencies that haven’t?
Answer: We do have record of successfully completed plans, plans in progress, and deficient municipalities. Additionally, a report is compiled annually and submitted to the FHWA.
Question #4: Are there specific penalties for missing the deadline or not completing a plan?
Answer: Penalties for failure of plan completion are risk of disability litigation (including being placed on probation by the Department of Justice) and suspension of Federal and State funding.
Question #5: Does the current push still apply to those agencies with 50 or more employees? (that includes anyone directly paid by the governmental agency, including council members, part-time employees, full-time employees, etc.)?
Answer: The employee threshold is still 50 and who constitutes an employee is a very broad definition in ADA law. You pretty much covered it: If an individual receives a check from a municipality, then they are an employee for the purposes of the Act. This includes full-time, part-time and elected officials.
Question #6: And finallywhy the big push now? The laws have been on the books for nearly 30 years.
Answer: There are several reasons for the current push to get everyone compliant. Increases in litigation and Department of Justice investigation have led to the realization that way too many municipalities are out of date on their self-evaluations, not statutorily compliant and/or reached the required employee threshold after the initial ADA passage in 1990 and never realized that they had to begin Section 504 compliance. Every municipality out of compliance puts the State and Federal Government as risk.
For more information about WithersRavenel’s ADA Transition Plan services, contact Keith Pugh at (919) 535-5182 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To speak with the State of North Carolina’s Title VI Officer, contact Ashley Council at (984) 236-1214 or email@example.com.