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45 Years of Impact Spotlight

Fighting for Accessible Government Services

In addition to the ADA’s Title III protections in public accommodations, Title II of the ADA prohibits disability-based discrimination in state and local governments.

DRP has brought numerous cases under Title II to improve accessibility in government services.

In 1995, DRP filed von Schmetterling v. SEPTA, alleging that SEPTA violated the ADA by selecting inaccessible sites for the sale of its transportation tokens and passes. The parties entered a settlement agreement that prohibited SEPTA from entering into new contracts with inaccessible stores and locations and required SEPTA to terminate contracts with existing contractors that failed to become accessible within a year.

In 1995, DRP filed von Schmetterling v. Kline, on behalf of DRP’s predecessor and several individuals with physical disabilities who were unable to access stores and other locations to buy lottery tickets. The parties entered into a settlement agreement, under which defendants agreed to no longer issue lottery licenses to retailers with inaccessible facilities; to require stores with existing licenses to complete statements of compliance and, if not accessible, to either submit verifications that accessibility alterations will be made or to request exceptions; to allow plaintiffs to challenge exceptions to the accessibility requirement; and to terminate licenses of retailers who do not submit verifications and/or whose requests for exceptions were denied.

DRP filed a second lawsuit in 1997 after learning that the defendants continued to license inaccessible lottery outlets, resulting in a revised settlement that required defendants to inspect all lottery outlets licensed after Title II’s effective date in January 1992 and revoke licenses of any outlets that remained inaccessible after a short opportunity to come into compliance.

In 1997, DRP and attorney Stephen F. Gold filed Anderson, et al. v. Dept. of Public Welfare, et al., to increase physical and communications access in the offices of providers in southeastern Pennsylvania’s HealthChoices health maintenance organization network. The judge found as a matter of law that HealthChoices was inaccessible and ordered that DPW establish accessibility guidelines for provider participation in the network. Following that decision, the parties entered into a settlement that required DPW to inspect all HealthChoices providers to determine if they are accessible to people with mobility disabilities and, if not, to require the facilities to be made accessible. DPW also agreed to require that the HealthChoices managed care organizations make their provider directories and member handbooks available, on request, to people with visual disabilities in alternatives formats, such as large print or Braille.