U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE – CIVIL RIGHTS DIVISION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, JUNE 3, 2008
(202) 514-2007 [Voice/Relay]
(202) 514-1888 [TTY]
SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT WILL ENSURE ACCESSIBILITY AT THE INTERNATIONAL SPY
MUSEUM IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today a settlement
agreement with the International Spy Museum under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA). Working together, the Department of Justice and the
museum have come to a settlement agreement, under which the museum agrees to
work to bring the content of its exhibitions, public programs, and other
offerings into full compliance with ADA requirements so that its exhibits
are accessible and effectively communicated to individuals with
disabilities, including individuals with hearing and vision impairments. By
focusing on visitors who are blind or have low vision and who are deaf or
hard of hearing, the agreement establishes a new level of access for
cultural and informal educational settings.
"We applaud the International Spy Museum for its innovative efforts to
improve access to its exhibitions and programs for individuals with
disabilities, and especially for those who are blind or have low vision and
those who are deaf or hard of hearing," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting
Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "This agreement will ensure
equal access for people with disabilities who want to participate in the
educational activities offered by the museum."
Of the 50 million Americans with disabilities, 16 million have sensory
disabilities. The agreement seeks to ensure these individuals will have
access to the museum's exhibitions, audiovisual presentations, and programs,
as required by law.
The museum fully cooperated with the Department's investigation and has
demonstrated an effort to find innovative solutions to work toward
compliance. It developed a proprietary technology for closed captioning of
its audiovisual presentations, and has retained experts to help provide
effective access for visitors who are blind or have low vision. When it
reaches full compliance with the settlement agreement, the Spy Museum will
become a national museum leader in welcoming visitors with disabilities.
Under the settlement agreement the museum will provide:
* tactile maps of the museum and floor plan that visitors can borrow;
* regularly scheduled tours with a qualified audio describer to
describe audiovisual presentations, computer interactives, or exhibits;
* a qualified reader to read exhibit labels;
* captions for all audiovisual, audio-only, and computer interactive
programs, or scripts or wall text to communicate the audio narration or
ambient sounds where captioning is not an option;
* a sample of models, and objects or reproductions of objects for
tactile examination accompanied by audio description;
* sign language and oral interpreter services and real-time captioning,
on advance request, for all public programs.
* advertisement of the availability of auxiliary aids and services;
* integrated wheelchair seating areas and companion seats at certain
* training for supervisors and managers on the ADA.
The settlement is the result of an investigation conducted after the
Department received a complaint from a blind individual who visited the
museum with a group. He claimed that the museum's exhibits and programs
were inaccessible to visitors who are blind or have low vision.
Title III of the ADA applies to private entities such as museums,
restaurants and stores. It requires that public accommodations ensure that
no individual with a disability is discriminated against on the basis of a
disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the entities' goods, services
and facilities. Where necessary, a public accommodation must also provide
appropriate auxiliary aids and services in order to ensure effective
communication. Title III also requires removal of barriers to access in
existing facilities where it is readily achievable to do so. Any new
construction or alteration to any buildings or facilities, including
exhibitions, must be made in such a manner that those buildings or
facilities meet the requirements of the physical accessibility standards.
The Spy Museum is located in the Pennsylvania Quarter neighborhood in
Washington, D.C., within four blocks of the National Mall. According to
museum officials, more than four million people have visited the museum
since it opened in July of 2002.
People interested in finding out more about the ADA or this agreement can
call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line at
1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY), or access its ADA Web site at