DOJ, Newseum settle over disability allegations

The Newseum has settled with the Justice Department over allegations that its facilities were not accessible to people with disabilities.

The museum agreed to take steps ensuring that all of its programs, exhibits and facilities are accessible to people using wheelchairs and who are deaf, blind or have other disabilities.

According to the Justice Department, the Newseum was previously operating exhibits and providing facilities that violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“This agreement ensures that people with disabilities will have an equal opportunity to enjoy the Newseum as other visitors,” said Jocelyn Samuels, the acting assistant attorney general for the department's civil rights division, said in a statement. “The Justice Department is committed to knocking down these types of barriers, and we commend the Newseum for its innovative efforts to improve accessibility for all visitors.” 

The Newseum offers exhibits and interactive programs on the history of news. It also hosts media events and conferences in Washington.

During inspections beginning in May 2011, Justice Department officials found poorly designed wheelchair spaces, missing sight and hearing aids and controls that could not be reached by short people or those in wheelchairs.

Under the terms of Friday’s agreement, it will have to provide additional wheelchair spaces and listening devices in its theaters and make sure that exhibit and tour materials can be understood by people with hearing or seeing difficulties.  

In a statement to The Hill, Newseum spokesman Scott Williams said that the museum had “worked closely” with the administration to come into line with the law.

“We at the Newseum are making certain all our audiovisual presentations, exhibitions, public programs, website and other offerings are easily assessable to our guests with disabilities of all kinds,” he said.