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The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights recently announced the release of a webinar setting out ways for school districts across the country to increase accessibility for students and teachers with disabilities in their school facilities.

The webinar, “Accessible Public Schools,” was developed by the Justice Department in consultation with the Department of Education and responds to a U.S. Government Accountability Office investigation and report issued in 2020: School Districts Need Better Information to Help Improve Access for People with Disabilities. That report detailed significant accessibility barriers for students with disabilities across the country in the nation’s K-12 public school buildings, and recommended the federal government provide additional resources for school districts.

“It is critical that students with disabilities, and family members, friends, neighbors, teachers and staff with disabilities, are able to access school buildings for learning as well as extracurricular activities and community events,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to using all available tools, including enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act, to increase accessibility in school buildings. It is equally important that school district personnel have ready access to tools and information, like this webinar, to understand their obligations under the law.”

“Schools need to be accessible to everyone,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon of the Department of Education. “More than 50 years after the enactment of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and 30 years after the enactment of the (Americans with Disabilities Act), students with disabilities should not still encounter barriers in their public schools. The Office for Civil Rights hopes resources like this webinar, in conjunction with vigorous enforcement, will ensure accessibility to school buildings for all students with disabilities and their families.”

In its report, the GAO recommended that the Justice Department, in consultation with the Department of Education, create guidance on K-12 school accessibility issues. The webinar, featuring a Justice Department architect, lays out the common accessibility problems found in schools (and identified in the GAO report) and ways to address them.

Listen to the webinar.

For more information on the ADA, please call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or visit www.ada.gov. For more information about the work of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regarding discrimination on the basis of disability, visit this website.