DOJ, Milwaukee reach comprehensive ADA settlement

Flag of the city of Milwaukee against a blue sky
Accessibility Improvements Coming Soon to Milwaukee

The City of Milwaukee will spend $3.4 million over the next three years on infrastructure improvements for people with disabilities, under a comprehensive settlement announced June  9 with the Department of Justice.

“Cities and towns must comply with the (American Disabilities Act) so that people with disabilities can use public entities and participate fully in their community – from enjoying parks and libraries, to accessing polling places and courthouses,” said Vanita Gupta, head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, in a news release. “We applaud Milwaukee’s commitment to ensuring that its entire population can access the city’s public resources and look forward to seeing these critical reforms become a reality.”

As part of the agreement, the city must review its sidewalks to ensure they are ADA compliant, as well as building entrances and other facilities.

Technology improvements are required for the city’s website, as well as provisions requiring the city to ensure its 911 and other services are accessible to text telephones and computer-to-telephone aids.

It must also appoint an ADA coordinator and establish a grievance procedure for resolving ADA complaints, among other systematic improvements.

The agreement is part of the DOJ’s Project Civic Access, a program where the agency has come into voluntary agreements with more than 100 municipalities since its creation in 1999. No litigation was filed in the negotiations leading to the agreement.

“The ADA was passed in 1990, but the transition to fully accessible City services and buildings has been slow and uneven,” Disability Rights Wisconsin said in a news release. “In Milwaukee, it has not always been clear where one should turn when they encounter accessibility issues.

“Over the years Disability Rights Wisconsin has been involved in many efforts to bring these issues to light. We are pleased to see the City moving forward.”

Disability Rights Wisconsin and Disability Rights Washington, the publisher of Rooted in Rights, are the designated protection and advocacy agencies in Wisconsin and Washington, respectively, and are members of the National Disability Rights Network.