- 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 Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.540(c)(1) and Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Administrative Order 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.
Conforme a la Ley sobre Estadounidenses con Discapacidades, si usted es una persona con una discapacidad que necesite alguna acomodación para poder participar en este procedimiento o programa, tiene el derecho, sin costo alguno para usted, a que le proporcionen cierta asistencia. Por favor, póngase en contacto con el Coordinador ADA de la Oficinas Administrativas Judiciales del Tribunal del Condado de Palm Beach, Habitación 5.2400, West Palm Beach, FL 33401; con el mayor tiempo de antelación posible, pero preferiblemente, por lo menos (7) días laborales antes de su fecha de comparecencia u otra actividad judicial; o inmediatamente después de haber sido notificado, si el tiempo antes de su fecha de comparecencia es de menos de (7) días laborales: el número de teléfono es el 561‐355‐4380, si usted tiene alguna dificultad auditiva o en el habla, llame al 1‐800‐955‐8771, el Fax es 561‐656‐7662, Envié un e‐mail a ADA@pbcgov.org
Daprè lwa Ameriken pou moun ki andikape yo, si w se yon moun andikape ki bezwen yon akomodasyon rezonab pou w kab patisipe nan pwosedi oswa pwogram sa a, lalwa ba w dwa pou w jwenn yon sèten fòm asistans san w pa bezwen peye pou sa. Tanpri, kontakte Kòdonatris ADA nan biwo administrasyon tribinal rejyon Palm Beach la nan Sal 5.2400, West Palm Beach, Florida 33401 pi vit posib, men l ap pi bon toujou si w fè sa omwen sèt (7) jou alavans avan dat ou gen pou vin nan tribinal la oswa nan lòt aktivite jidisyè a; oswa imedyatman aprè ou fin resevwa notifikasyon sa a, si dat randevou pou konparèt nan tribinal la mwens pase sèt (7) jou ouvrab; nimewo telefòn nan se 561‐355‐4380. Si w se yon moun ki pa tande byen oswa ki pa pale byen akoz yon twoub langaj kèlkonk, rele 1‐800‐955‐8771, faks la se 561‐656‐7662, imèl la se 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.
- Is there a separate cost for any of the accommodations that may be provided to me?
No, as required under the ADA, it is the responsibility of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit to provide a reasonable accommodation at no cost to all qualified individuals.
- Do I have to tell you the nature of my disability?
Yes, the request must state the nature of the disability that makes an accommodation necessary and include a suggestion as to what would be a reasonable accommodation for the disability. Providing this information will allow the person reviewing your request to better understand the limitation(s) you are facing, thus providing you with the most appropriate reasonable accommodation.
- Do I need to prove that I have a disability?
No. Most requests for an accommodation do not require proof. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to provide additional information in order for us to determine whether you are a "qualified" person with a disability under the ADA and/or to help identify the most appropriate reasonable accommodation.
- Can I request specific equipment or services to assist me?
Yes. The Fifteenth Judicial Circuit can make available sign language interpreters, oral interpreters, CART service, real‐time access transcription services, and listening devices when appropriate.
- Can I request services of a personal nature?
No, the ADA does not require The Fifteenth Judicial Circuit to provide services of a personal nature, such as:
- Legal Counsel or Advice
- Personal Devices such as a Wheelchair or Hearing Aid
- Personal Services such as Medical or Attendant Care
- Can I bring someone to court with me to help me take notes and/or organize my documents?
You are welcome to bring with you to the hearing a friend, relative, or other person to help you organize your documents and take notes, provided the person is not a witness in the case. However, the only individuals permitted to represent you or speak on your behalf in court are either yourself or an attorney authorized to practice law in Florida. It is up to the presiding judge as to whether or not a non‐attorney assistant would be allowed to read verbatim any statements you have prepared for yourself in advance.
- What types of services are covered under the ADA? Which services are not covered?
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 that can be provided under the ADA include:
- Assisted listening devices
- American Sign Language Interpreters (ASLI)
- Oral Interpreters
- CART service/Real‐Time Transcription Services (under special conditions)
- Accessible formats such as large print, Braille, electronic document, or audio tapes
- Reader services
Services the State Courts System will not provide and is not required to provide under the ADA include:
- Transportation to and from the courthouse
- Legal counsel or advice
- Personal devices such as wheelchairs or hearing aids
- 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
- An official transcript of a court proceeding
- Document filing
Additionally, the courts cannot administratively grant, as an ADA accommodation, requests that impact court procedures within a specific case. Requests for an extension of time, a change of venue, or participation in court proceedings by telephone or video conferencing must be submitted by written motion to the presiding judge as part of the case. The judge may consider an individual's disability, along with other relevant factors, in granting or denying the motion.
Furthermore, the court cannot exceed the law in granting a request for an accommodation. For example, the court cannot extend the statute of limitations for filing an action because someone claims that he or she could not make it to the court on time due to a disability, nor can the court modify the terms of agreements among parties as an ADA accommodation.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not require the court system to take any action that would fundamentally alter the nature of court programs, services, activities, or that would impose an undue financial or administrative burden on the courts.
- Can I request an accommodation for Jury Duty?
Yes. If you need a reasonable accommodation to attend Jury Duty, please see the information below.
- How do I request an ADA accommodation?
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.
- Is there handicapped parking near the courthouse?
Main Courthouse: There are handicapped parking spaces in front of the courthouse on N. Quadrille Blvd; and handicapped parking spaces on the first floor of the parking garage across the street on N. Quadrille Blvd. The courthouse is wheelchair accessible.
North County: The parking lot has handicapped parking spaces near the courthouse entrance. The courthouse is wheelchair accessible.
South County: The parking garage has handicapped parking spaces on the first floor, and is located directly across from the courthouse on SW 2nd Ave. The courthouse is wheelchair accessible.
West County: The parking lot has handicapped parking spaces near the courthouse entrance. The courthouse is wheelchair accessible.
Criminal Justice Complex (Gun Club): The parking lot has handicapped parking spaces near the courthouse entrance. The courthouse is wheelchair accessible.
- Can I bring my service animal into the courthouse?
Under the ADA, a service animal is defined as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. Service animals are permitted to accompany people with disabilities into the courthouse.
- What does "do work or perform tasks" mean?
The task(s) performed by the dog must be directly related to the person's disability. The dog must be trained to take a specific action when needed to assist the person with a disability. For example, a person with diabetes may have a dog that is trained to alert him when his blood sugar reaches high or low levels. A person with depression may have a dog that is trained to remind her to take her medication. Or, a person who has epilepsy may have a dog that is trained to detect the onset of a seizure and then help the person remain safe during the seizure.
- Are emotional support, therapy, comfort, or companion animals considered service animals under the ADA?
No. These terms are used to describe animals that provide comfort just by being with a person. Because they have not been trained to perform a specific job or task, they do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, and therefore will not be permitted into the courthouse.
- Does receiving Social Security Disability benefits automatically entitle me to an ADA accommodation?
No. The definition of disability under the Social Security Administration differs from the definition of disability under the ADA. The Social Security Administration defines disability in terms of the "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity," which is generally work that brings in over a certain dollar amount per month. The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.
- Can my request for an accommodation be denied?
Yes. Although the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit is committed to ensuring that persons with disabilities have equal access to the courts, some requests may be denied.
- What if my request for an accommodation is denied?
If your request for an accommodation is denied, or if you do not agree with the accommodation offered, you can file a grievance/complaint. The grievance must be filed no later than one hundred eighty (180) days from the date of the alleged violation. The filing deadline may be extended upon a showing of good cause.
- 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.
- Can I file a complaint if I am unhappy with the Judge's decision on the merits of my case?
No, the ADA complaint process is not the appropriate way to challenge a Judge's decision.
- What is the ADA Grievance Procedure?
It is the intent of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit to fully comply with the ADA and to assure equity, fairness and full participation in the judicial system for persons with disabilities.
The purpose of this procedure is to establish a mechanism for resolving complaints without requiring the complainant to resort to federal complaint procedures. However, complainants would not be required to exhaust this grievance procedure before they could file a complaint at the federal level. It is the intent of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit that complainants be consulted and advised, and that communication is maintained at each step of the grievance process.
It is further the intent of the Circuit to engage alternative dispute resolution techniques whenever necessary and at any point in the grievance process.
- Complaints shall be filed with the ADA Coordinator no later than one hundred eighty (180) days from the date of the alleged violation. The filing deadline may be extended upon a showing of good cause.
- The ADA Coordinator will determine which function of the court is at issue; facilities, programs, services, benefits or activities.
- The ADA Coordinator will notify the Chief Judge and the Trial Court Administrator as soon as practical.
- A team consisting of at least three (3) people shall address the complaint. A person who is charged in the complaint with alleged discriminatory conduct shall not be a member of the team.
- The team shall consult representatives from county government entities in the resolution of the grievance when the complaint involves a court facility, program, service, benefit or activity that is under their authority or is provided by the courts.
- The team or a member of the team will review the complaint with the complainant. The team or a member of the team will interview witnesses who can provide supportive or relevant information and complete the fact finding process.
- The team or a member of the team shall determine the legal sufficiency of the complaint. In making this determination, the team shall consider a consultation with the Office of the State Courts Administrator, Department of Legal Affairs and Education.
- If the complaint is legally deficient, the grievance process shall be brought to a close immediately. If a complaint is legally sufficient, the team will establish a course of legal action to resolve the grievance.
- To the extent necessary, the court may make reasonable modification to its programs, services, benefits and activities in order to ensure future compliance with the ADA.
- When appropriate and to the extent necessary, the court may work with county government to make reasonable modification to court facilities, programs, services benefits, court notices and activities that are under the authority of, or provided by, county government to ensure future compliance with the ADA.
A complainant shall use the Statement of Grievance form. If the complainant cannot write, then staff will assist the complainant in filling out the form. The Statement of Grievance form shall contain the following minimum information:
- Name, address and telephone number of the complainant on whose behalf the complaintis being made.
- The court facility in which the violation is alleged to have occurred.
- A complete statement of the grievance and the facts upon which it is based.
- The desired remedy or solution requested, and
- The names of any witnesses who can provide supportive or related information.
Fill out the Grievance Form.
- What are some helpful resources?
- Palm Tran Connection (transportation) 561‐649‐9838
- Disability Rights Florida 800‐342‐0823
- ADA Disability Rights Section, Department of Justice 800‐514‐0301
- Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller, Self‐Service Center 561‐355‐7048
- Dial 2‐1‐1
- Free family law forms from the Office of Florida State Courts
- Legal Aid of Palm Beach County 561‐655‐8944
- Palm Beach County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service 561‐687‐3266
- The Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service 800‐342‐8011
- Palm Beach County Bar Association 561‐687‐2800
- Florida Bar Association 850‐561‐5600
- Florida Free Legal Answers, from the Florida Bar and the American Bar Association
- Office of the State Attorney 561‐355‐7100
- Public Defender 561‐355‐7500
- National Association of Consumer Advocates 202‐452‐1989
- Internet Website Accessibility
The Fifteenth Judicial Circuit is committed to making our website accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities. We are constantly reviewing our website to make sure it meets the requirements of Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the ADA.
The purpose of the 508 Standards is to enhance accessibility to ICT (Information and Communication Technology) by persons with disabilities. For questions regarding Section 508 website accessibility, please contact us.