On Tuesday, September 22, I addressed the Board of Supervisors at their business meeting to raise awareness about the Loudoun County Library (Rust) policies. I urged them to make a recommendation to modify the library policies to be in alignment with the ADA. In the year 2021, it’s incomprehensible to believe that a public library in Virginia would be so unaware and inflexible to amend their policies to include language to reference a 32-year-old law that assures access and reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities.
Supervisor Umstattd has shown support and forwarded my email to Director Liu and the Library Board of Trustees encouraging them to acknowledge my request and act to modify the library’s policies to be in alignment with the ADA.
In 2013, my daughter with Down syndrome was 25 and enjoyed books from the Rust Library. One day at checkout, she began crying. The head librarian insisted she was disturbing the library and must leave and that she would remove her. I asked if she was going to put her hands on my daughter. Her response, “I will call law enforcement to remove her” and cited the Rules of Conduct.
Were you aware that Section 10 of the Library Rules of Conduct states that staff has the right to contact the proper authorities and ask customers to leave the library when customers are in violation of the rules? This policy disregards the ADA which entitles equal access to public places for people with disabilities, whose behaviors that the library states are a violation, may be a manifestation of their disability.
Does the Robert Saylor case in Maryland resonate with you? A young man with Down syndrome in Maryland who refused to leave a theater after the movie ended, police were called to remove him, they used undue force, suffocated, and killed Robert?
Was VA following the same pattern of this tragedy to use undue force to remove a person with a disability? I filed a complaint with the United States Department of Justice and contacted the Washington Post, who ran a story on our library experience and the disregard for the ADA. It was my understanding at mediation in 2013 with Liu, that the policy would be modified to include the ADA.
Fast forward, 8 years, and the library’s policy makes no reference to the ADA. In 2013, Director Liu, stated that customer service is a top priority and customer experiences are teachable moments, but classified my matter as a personnel matter. How is disregard and ignorance for a federal law, a personnel matter? The library still makes no reference to the ADA in their policy. Anyone can be removed for disturbing the library, even people with disabilities.
Wake up Loudoun County Library Board of Trustees. The ADA is a 32-year-old law that affords equal access to all citizens. It’s time to do the right thing and modify outdated policies!
As a disability advocate, I implore the Board of Supervisors to do the right thing and take immediate action to recommend that policies shall include the ADA and equal access for all citizens.
How difficult does it really have to be to do the right thing?