- What is ADA
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was enacted to ensure that all qualified individuals with disabilities enjoy the same opportunities that are available to persons without disabilities. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The ADA directly affects state courts as providers of public programs and services.
Under the act, an individual with a "disability" is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such impairment. Examples of physical impairments include: speech and hearing impairments, visual impairments, epilepsy, heart disease, HIV infections/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and mobility impairments. Examples of mental impairments include: learning disabilities and psychological disorders.
The ADA is divided into five sections. Title I of the act prohibits unreasonable discrimination against qualified individuals based on a disability in all employment activities. Under Title II of the Act, no qualified individual with a disability shall be unreasonably discriminated against, or excluded from participation in or benefits of the services, programs, or activities of state and local government, including the judicial branch. Title III prohibits discrimination by public accommodations, that is, a private entity that owns, leases, or operates a place of public accommodations. Such a place is defined as, among other things, services by doctors, lawyers, accountants and other professionals. Title IV relates to telecommunications and Title V contains miscellaneous provisions.
- How are persons with disabilities notified that they are eligible for assistance if they need to access court programs or services?
Pursuant to the Florida Rules of Judicial Administration 2.207, all documents which notice court proceedings must include the following language
In accordance with the American with Disabilities Act, if you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in this proceeding or program, you are entitled, at no cost to you, to the provision of certain assistance. Please contact the ADA Coordinator in the Administrative Offices of the Court, Palm Beach County Courthouse, Room, 5.2400, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401 as far in advance as possible, but preferably at least seven (7) working days before your scheduled court appearance or other court activity; or immediately upon receiving your notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than seven (7) working days; the telephone number is 561-355-4380. If you are hearing or voice impaired, call 1-800-955-8771, Fax is 561-656-7662, E-mail at ADA@pbcgov.org.
- What should I do if I am a qualified person with a disability who needs a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in the employment process within the state courts system?
The Fifteenth Judicial Circuit is an Equal Opportunity Employer. If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in the application, recruitment, and selection process within the State Courts System, please submit the ADA Accommodation Request Form, or contact the ADA Coordinator at 561-355-4380, if you are hearing or voice impaired, call 1-800-955-8771, Fax is 561-656-7662, E-mail at ADA@pbcgov.org as far in advance as possible and prior to the application deadline.
Please be prepared to explain your functional limitations and suggest a reasonable accommodation that you believe will enable you to effectively participate in the application, recruitment, and selection process. If you are a current employee of, or are hired by, the State Courts System and require a reasonable accommodation in order to perform the essential functions of the job in question, you should consult with your supervisor.
- What should I do if I am a qualified person with a disability who needs assistance in order to participate in a program or service of the State Courts System?
Some physical barriers make it difficult for persons with a disability to participate in court services or programs. In some courthouses, witness and jury boxes may be inaccessible to wheelchairs or public information counters may be too high for some persons. In addition to architecturally renovating facilities to make them readily accessible to persons with disabilities, there are other methods of providing program access including relocating a service to enable a person with a disability to participate or seating several jurors, including a juror using a wheelchair, in front of the juror box.
Any device or aid that is designed to provide effective communication and participation for individuals with disabilities is an auxiliary aid or service. Examples of auxiliary aids or services include:
- Assisted Listening Devices
- Sign Language Interpreters
- Oral Interpreters
- Real-Time Transcription Services
- Providing Materials in Large Print, Braille, Diskette, or Audio Tapes
- Reader Services
- Sound Amplifying Headsets
Services the State Courts System is not required to provide under the ADA include:
- Transportation to the Courthouse
- Legal Counsel or Advice
- Personal Devices such as a Wheelchair or Hearing Aid
- Personal Services such as Medical or Attendant Care
- A modification of a policy or an auxiliary aid or service that would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the program or service, or would result in an undue burden
- Document filing
If you are a person with a disability who needs any accommodation in order to participate in a proceeding, you are entitled, at no cost to you, the provision of certain assistance. Please contact the ADA Coordinator as far in advance as possible, but preferably at least seven (7) working days before your scheduled court appearance or immediately upon receiving your notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than seven (7) working days; the telephone number is 561-355-4380. If you are hearing or voice impaired, call 1-800-955-8771; Fax is 561-656-7662, E-mail at ADA@pbcgov.org. You can also use the online ADA Accommodation Request Form. Once submitted, this will go to the ADA Coordinator.
- How much notice must I give the ADA Coordinator to schedule accommodations for my visit to the courthouse?
Some accommodations, such as sign language interpreters and real-time reporting, require additional time to schedule. To ensure service availability, it is recommended that you contact the ADA Coordinator as far in advance as possible, but preferably at least seven (7) working days before your scheduled court appearance or immediately upon receiving your notification if the time before the scheduled appearance is less than seven (7) working days;. Please be prepared to explain the nature of your disability and suggest an auxiliary aid or service that will enable you to effectively participate in the court program or service.
- Is the Courthouse wheelchair/mobility assistance device accessible?
There is a designated disabled parking drop off area in front of the courthouse on the west side of the main entrance. The facility was built to accommodate persons with disabilities including automatic entrance doors, wide walkways, halls, doorways and passages. All restroom facilities are ADA compliant.
- What actions can an individual with disabilities who believe their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act have been violated take
The State Courts System has established grievance procedures that allow for the resolution of complaints without resorting to federal complaint procedures. All persons have a right to pursue complaints of discrimination through the State Courts System's internal complaint procedure. The ADA recommends resolving disputes on a local level if possible. Individuals who unsuccessfully pursue local remedies are not prevented from later seeking relief through the United States Department of Justice or the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.