COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

P.O. BOX 2120

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120

SUPTS. MEMO NO. 141

June 13, 2008

INFORMATIONAL

TO:

Division Superintendents

 

FROM:

Billy K. Cannaday, Jr.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

 

SUBJECT:

Virginia's Public Schools and Accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

 

The purpose of this correspondence is to remind local education agencies (LEAs) of their continuing responsibilities to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (28 CFR Part 35, P.L. 101-336). The ADA prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, education, state and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. This federal law requires that:

 

1.          All existing school programs must be operated so that they are, when viewed in their entirety, readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities (28 CFR 35.130 and 35.150). The ADA defines existing as school buildings constructed prior to January 27, 1992.

 

2.          All new school construction, additions, renovations and

alterations (on or after January 27, 1992) to both buildings and grounds must be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities (28 CFR 35.151). Architects and engineers who design projects in Virginia are required to follow the current Virginia Construction Code and the International Code Council (ICC), A117.1.

 

State and local governments must ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from services, programs, and activities because buildings are inaccessible. When alterations are undertaken that affect the use of the building, these alterations shall to the maximum amount feasible be readily accessible by individuals with disabilities (28 CFR 35.151).

 

The Virginia Department of Education annually conducts on-site accessibility reviews. Reports of findings reveal the need for LEAs to assess their buildings and grounds to ensure compliance with ADA. A self-evaluation tool and other sources of information may be retrieved from the websites printed below.

ADA Checklist for Readily Achievable Barrier Removal
http://www.ada.gov/racheck.pdf

ADA Best Practices Toolkit

http://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/toolkitmain.htm

 

Common ADA Errors and Omissions in New Construction and

Alterations

http://www.ada.gov/error.htm

 

ADA Accessibility Guidelines

http://www.access-board.gov/adaag/html/adaag.htm

 

We look forward to working with school divisions to ensure their facilities and programs are accessible to all users. For more information, you may contact A.K. (Vijay) Ramnarain or Hunter Barnes, architectural consultants, at (804) 225-2035 or Vijay.Ramnarain@doe.virginia.gov and Hunter.Barnes@doe.virginia.gov. You may also contact Mrs. Bonnie English, monitoring specialist in our Office of Federal Program Monitoring, for information about the Department of Education's accessibility reviews in public schools at(804)225-2618 or Bonnie.English@doe.virginia.gov.

 

BKCJr/BBE/dct