Project Civil Access

There are a total of 3,141 Counties in the United States and its territories according to the United States Geological Survey. This includes county equivalents, such as boroughs, census areas, parishes, independent cities, and the one district. Not included are the 78 municipalities in Puerto Rico, the 3 districts in US Virgin Islands, the 19 election districts in Guam, the 17 districts in Northern Mariana Islands and the 5 districts in American Samoa.

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines "State" as a State in the United States, as well as territories of the United States. This would include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, the Pacific and Northern Mariana Islands.

That is a total of 3,263 counties, county equivalents and United States territories with districts that are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. That is not including the cities, towns, and villages that also need to comply.

The United States Department of Justice has diligently been evaluating counties, towns, and villages across the United States to ensure that all people with disabilities have access to services. The DOJ initiated Project Civic Access for continued assurance to accessibility. As of June 9, 2016, the DOJ has entered into over 200 settlement agreements with state and local governments since the project began.

There are still thousands of counties, cities, towns, and villages that may get a compliance review from The United States Department of Justice.

Project Civic Access & Website Accessibility

Under Project Civic Access, the Department of Justice's Disability Rights Division, for example, goes to the city and evaluates their buildings, including polling places and leased facilities, as well as communication systems and services offered throughout the city.

As the DOJ continues to evaluate, the settlement agreements have become more uniform in recent years. In most of the settlement agreements, the DOJ outlines specific points and most common problems found when evaluating accessibility. Under Section III of the agreement, the DOJ outlines remedial actions that will need to be taken. Those actions are: notification, ADA coordinator, independent licensed architect, general effective communication provisions, 911, law enforcement and effective communication, employment, polling places, emergency management procedures and policies, physical changes to emergency shelters, web-based services and programs, new construction, alterations, and physical changes to facilities, and program modifications.

Web-based Services and Programs

Under Web-based Services and Programs, the DOJ clearly outlines the steps to ensure an accessible website. They also enforce the need for current and future web content to be accessible to people with disabilities. This is an ongoing process, not a one time fix. In the settlement agreement, it states that the county, city, town, or village agrees to hire an independent consultant with expertise in both ADA and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. The consultant will evaluate the entities web content and help propose guidelines for website accessibility. They must also have an internal web accessibility coordinator who is responsible for web-based services and programs.

Stemming from their website evaluation, the entity must outline and implement a policy that demonstrates that their web pages will be complying with WCAG 2.0 Level AA. This policy will be available to the public, as well as the relevant employees and contractors who are involved in any process to the website. Employees will receive website accessibility training to ensure compliance.

To maintain WCAG 2.0 Level AA on their websites, the agreement outlines continuous testing for barriers present on the website and to have individuals who have disabilities test and provide feedback on the accessibility of their website.

The Department of Justice explicitly states that counties, cities, towns, and villages must comply with the ADA and WCAG without thought of cost or budget. They must pay as much as is needed to be have an accessible website for people with disabilities.

How AudioEye Can Help

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For a more in-depth look into individual settlement agreements between the DOJ and counties, cities, town, and villages check out AudioEye's State & Local Government Lawsuit Repository.

Source Materials

Project Civic Access

United States Access Board: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990

Settlement Agreement Between The United States of America and The City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin

USGS FAQs: How many counties are there in the United States?

State & Local Government Web Accessibility Complaint Repository

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