Chicago – Attorney General Kwame Raoul today released his office’s fourth annual Disability Rights Bureau Investigation and Technical Assistance Activity report. The report for fiscal year 2022-2023 is being released as the nation celebrates the anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law 33 years ago today.
The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities across areas of public life, including in schools, employment, public businesses, state and local governments, telecommunications and transportation.
“July is Disability Pride Month, and as we celebrate that and the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am proud to highlight my office’s continued action to protect and advance the rights of people with disabilities in Illinois,” Raoul said. “People with disabilities have a right to participate in their communities and are entitled to equal access to schools, businesses and public buildings. I will continue to defend those rights and advocate for a more inclusive society during Disability Pride Month and throughout the year.”
The report is the result of a law that went into effect in August 2019 that requires the Attorney General’s Disability Rights Bureau to detail its efforts to enforce laws that protect individuals with disabilities in Illinois, notably the Illinois Environmental Barriers Act (EBA). The EBA requires physical accessibility in new construction, additions and alterations to public facilities, and new multistory housing. The report also addresses other actions taken by the bureau, beyond enforcement of the EBA, to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities.
In the past year, the bureau responded to 229 complaints from members of the public pertaining to physical accessibility and disability discrimination and responded to 780 requests for technical assistance. The bureau also conducted seven presentations and trainings across the state, including a disability learning seminar for U.S. attorneys stationed abroad; elderly service officer training for police officers; disability rights in the court room training for new Illinois judges; and ADA standards and plumbing elements training for licensed plumbers, architects, engineers and code officials.
According to the report, the most frequent complaints to Raoul’s office that resulted in investigations of alleged EBA violations include physical inaccessibility of parking, routes, entrances, ramps, built-in counters, seating, elevators, bathrooms, sidewalks, operating mechanisms, curb ramps, vertical accessibility and swimming pools. The bureau also received complaints alleging discrimination against people who have disabilities, the most frequent involving service animals, business and public entity policies and practices, housing accommodations, effective communication, court accommodations, employment accommodations and assistive technology.
Raoul’s Disability Rights Bureau is responsible for investigating alleged violations of state and federal laws, including the Illinois Human Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act and the ADA. Attorneys and specialists in the bureau work to resolve violations of these laws and, when necessary, take legal action against violators.
In addition to its enforcement work, the Disability Rights Bureau provides technical assistance to individuals with disabilities and to public and private entities seeking to comply with disability rights laws. The bureau also conducts disability rights training programs for law enforcement, architects, engineers, building code officials and inspectors, judges and court personnel, business owners, disability rights organizations, and other groups throughout the state. Bureau staff members also serve on a number of committees that address a variety of issues impacting the lives of people with disabilities.
For more information about disability rights laws or to file a complaint, Raoul encourages people to visit the Attorney General’s website or contact the Attorney General’s Disability Rights Bureau in Chicago at 312-814-5684, in Springfield at 217-524-2660, or by email at Disability.Rights@ilag.gov. Individuals with hearing or speech disabilities can reach us by using the 7-1-1 relay service.