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SAFEWAY SUPERMARKETS TO BECOME MORE ACCESSIBLE TO CUSTOMERS WITH DISABILITIES UNDER AGREEMENT WITH THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One of the nation's largest supermarket chains, Safeway Stores, Inc., will become more accessible to customers with disabilities under an agreement reached today with the Justice Department and several disability rights advocates. Today's settlement falls on the fifth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) -- a landmark law that prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. "The ADA is a common sense law that is opening up doors for millions of Americans with disabilities," said Attorney General Janet Reno. To commemorate the anniversary, Reno and President Clinton meet today with members of the disability community to discuss the law's success. The Safeway agreement, which affects more than 800 stores in 16 states, resolves a complaint filed with the Justice Department alleging that the supermarket chain violated the ADA. The complaint, filed by a Wisconsin resident with a disability, claimed that wheelchair users found it difficult to shop in the supermarket because the entrances were surrounded by poles. The poles, or security bollards, are intended to prevent customers from wheeling shopping carts into the parking lot. "We have focussed our enforcement on access to the fundamentals of everyday life," said Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Deval L. Patrick. "Few things are more fundamental than getting into the neighborhood grocery store." Title III of the ADA requires existing public accommodations, such as supermarkets, to remove barriers where it can be done without much difficulty or expense. Supermarkets, and other public accommodations, built or altered after the law went into effect must be built according to specific standards set by law. Under the agreement Safeway will create at least one 32-inch opening between the security poles at many of its stores so that customers who use wheelchairs can have greater access. In close consultation with the Justice Department, Safeway also will launch a nationwide effort to survey its 835 stores, determine where the stores do not meet the ADA's requirements, and take steps to ensure compliance. The survey will examine such things as the width of check out aisles, the availability of accessible parking, the height of ATMs and deli, bakery and checkout counters, and the accessi-bility of telephones and public restrooms. "Safeway's plan to review stores nationwide demonstrates its commitment to access," added Patrick. "Even before the agreement was reached, Safeway began taking steps to make its stores more accessible. We look forward to continuing our cooperative

relationship with Safeway." Other parties to today's agreement include two individuals with disabilities and the Disability Rights Council of Washington, D.C., which sued the chain under the ADA, as well as the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) of Berkeley, which had received several complaints about Safeway's California stores. The supermarket chain has stores in the following 16 states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming, and Washington, D.C. Last year Attorney General Janet Reno launched a national campaign to educate Americans about their rights and obligations under the ADA. She is committed to reaching out to businesses to achieve voluntary compliance with the law. The campaign, which includes television and radio public service announcements, advertises a toll-free ADA information line. The number is 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD). # # # 95-416