U.S. Attorney Announces Agreement With New York University To Increase Accessibility Of Student Housing Facilities

2 mins read
FILE PHOTO: American flag waves outside the U.S. Department of Justice Building in Washington

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced a voluntary compliance agreement under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) with New York University (“NYU” or the “University”) to increase the accessibility of NYU’s student housing facilities for individuals with disabilities.  The agreement covers all of NYU’s student housing facilities in the New York metropolitan area.

Title III of the ADA requires that privately owned places of public accommodation, including colleges and universities, remove physical barriers to access to existing facilities where it is readily achievable to do so, comply with accessibility standards for new construction and alterations, and modify policies and practices where necessary to ensure full and equal enjoyment of services and facilities.

The out-of-court agreement resolves a compliance review during which the U.S. Attorney’s Office identified various aspects of NYU’s student housing facilities that were not in compliance with Title III of the ADA and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, including violations of the new construction provisions of the ADA and barriers to access to existing facilities. 

NYU’s New York-area campuses include student housing facilities in Manhattan, in Brooklyn, and on Long Island for the University’s undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools.  The agreement covers a total of more than 4,000 student housing units, which are located within 22 NYU-owned student housing facilities and 10 facilities leased in full or in part by the University.

NYU has agreed to prepare a plan under which it will survey and make alterations to its student housing facilities within five years, update its student housing emergency preparedness plans, and improve the accessibility information related to student housing on its website.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “The ADA requires colleges and universities to ensure that no individual is discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of their services and facilities.  We are pleased that NYU has committed to improving accessibility within the University’s student housing facilities and hope that other colleges and universities will follow suit and increase access to their facilities for individuals with disabilities.”

Under the agreement, NYU will:

  • Conduct architectural surveys and seek public comment from the University community and then submit an accessibility plan for review to this Office, outlining how the University will comply with the agreement.
  • Ensure that an appropriate number of accessible student housing units (and bathrooms serving those units) are available to students with disabilities and are dispersed throughout the University’s student housing facilities which serve NYU’s (i) general student population, (ii) graduate student population, (iii) Grossman School of Medicine, (iv) Long Island School of Medicine, (v) law school, and (vi) Brooklyn campus.
  • Ensure that each student housing facility in which accessible housing units required by the agreement are located has accessible features, including accessible entrances, approaches, bathrooms, and signage; and that an appropriate number of additional housing facilities have an accessible entrance, first floor common area, and bathroom.
  • Update its student housing emergency evacuation, sheltering, and shelter-in-place plans for individuals with disabilities after seeking public comment from the University community.
  • Update its website to identify accessible entrances, routes, and transportation options for its student housing facilities; identify newly added or renovated accessible features of the student housing facilities; and provide information to assist students and prospective students with disabilities in securing and utilizing accessible housing and housing accommodations at NYU.

*                *                *

This case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Unit in the Civil Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Dolinger is in charge of the case.