FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE TUESDAY, JUNE 2, 1998

CR

ANDY WILLIAMS THEATER IN BRANSON, MISSOURI TO IMPROVE

ACCESS UNDER SETTLEMENT WITH JUSTICE DEPARTMENT

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Theater-goers with disabilities will have better access when they go to Andy Williams' Moon River Theater in Branson, Missouri, under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department. The agreement resolves a complaint lodged with the Justice Department by a Michigan woman who uses a wheelchair. In her complaint, she alleged the theater violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because she could not get to her seat in her wheelchair. The agreement requires the owner of Moon River Enterprises to nearly triple the number of accessible seats in the theater, hang more signs directing patrons to accessible routes, lower the public telephones, and install visual alarms and alternate stalls in the bathrooms. The owner, in fact, took steps to make the theater accessible prior to signing the agreement. "Visitors with disabilities deserve the opportunity to enjoy all places of entertainment in Branson," said Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bill Lann Lee. "As soon as we approached the Moon River Theater, it began cooperating with our investigation and took steps to make it more accessible." Title III of the 1990 federal law requires owners of public accommodations, including theaters, to make their facilities accessible for people with disabilities when it is readily achievable to do so, or when it can be done without much difficulty or expense. Unlike the Moon River Theater, newer facilities that are constructed after the law went into effect, must comply with specific requirements called the ADA's Standards for Accessible Design. The Justice Department is currently investigating several other complaints regarding inaccessible theaters, restaurants, and hotels in Branson, including other newly-constructed or altered facilities. Branson, Missouri, a city located in the Ozark Mountains, is one of the music capitals of the country and is a popular destination for senior citizens each year. The Justice Department previously reached settlements with two other facilities in Branson. In late February, the Paradise Grill restaurant agreed to bring its facility into compliance with the ADA's new construction standards. The owner and architect agreed to make its facility accessible by modifying its parking area and main entrance, providing appropriate signs at its restrooms, and improving access in the restrooms designated as accessible. In February 1996, the Blue Velvet Theater agreed to improve access after it had been investigated for failing to fully comply with the Standards. For further information, individuals can call the Justice Department's toll-free ADA Information Line. The Information Line was established by Attorney General Janet Reno as part

of a nationwide campaign to educate the public about the ADA. The number is 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD). The Justice Department also has established an ADA home page on the World Wide Web at (http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/adahom1.htm). ###

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