The Illinois Supreme Court recently announced amendments aimed at improving accessibility and fostering access to justice in Illinois courts for people with disabilities.
The Supreme Court’s “significant amendments” to M.R. 25307 and its Policy on Access for People with Disabilities are effective January 1, 2024. All Illinois courts must “report compliance with M.R. 25307” by August 1, 2024, according to the press release.
“The Illinois Supreme Court is committed to access to justice for all users of the court system,” Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis said in the press release. “We appreciate the efforts of our Access to Justice Commission, members of the disability community and members of the legal aid community who worked on these improvements.”
Amendment Regarding Court Disability Coordinators
The policy amendments will require that all Illinois courts “include updated Court Disability Coordinator (CDC) contact information on notice of accommodation signs and request forms.”
The CDC in each court receives, processes, and conveys accommodation requests from persons with disabilities to the appropriate judge or court personnel, among other duties.
With this change, users in all Illinois courts will know who to reach out to for disability access questions and concerns, according to the press release.
This will help “avoid confusion and inconsistencies for court users with disabilities who might not have otherwise been able to identify the CDC or might have found different policies or information in different courts,” the Supreme Court said.
About 1 in 4 adults in Illinois have a disability related to mobility, cognition, independent living, hearing, vision, or self-care, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Additional policy amendments
Other policy amendments include updating the definition of “disability” to mean a physical or mental characteristic that substantially limits one or more major life activities, as well as additional language changes.
The amendments also shift the policy’s focus from “communications” and “accommodations” to all court activities and redesign required notices and forms.
Additionally, the amended policy further clarifies the responsibilities of the courts and the rights of people with disabilities who access court activities by articulating the requirements of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the corresponding Federal Regulations, the Illinois Human Rights Act, and case law.
The amendments were proposed by the Commission on Access to Justice’s Disability Access Committee. The committee was established in 2022 and is comprised of disability access and advocacy leaders from across the state.
“The amended Policy proposed by the Disability Access Committee works to eliminate barriers and foster an accessible court system that promotes access to justice for court users with disabilities across Illinois,” said Judge Jorge L. Ortiz, Chair of the Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission, in the press release.
Staying up to date on issues impacting the legal profession is vital to your success. Subscribe here to get the Commission’s weekly news delivered to your inbox.