The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday that Mills College in Oakland has agreed to fix 260 barriers and inaccessible devices on the 135-acre campus that allegedly violate the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
The settlement between the women's college and the government resolves an investigation begun by the Justice Department in 2010 after receiving a complaint from an unidentified person with a disability.
The department did not file a lawsuit. The settlement states that Mills denies violating the ADA, but is agreeing to the pact to avoid the burden of further investigation and a possible lawsuit.
"Mills College is pleased to have reached this agreement," said Vice President for Operations Renee Jadushlever.
"While this means the college will incur additional costs, we will continue to make the necessary accommodations to provide unobstructed access to facilities for students and visitors with disabilities on our historic campus at all times," Jadushlever said.
U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of San Francisco said, "We commend Mills College for its cooperation and commitment to providing people with disabilities unfettered access to its facilities."
Individual items to be made more accessible under the agreement include grab bars, paper towel dispensers, counter heights, signs and drinking fountains in science laboratories, music and art centers, bathrooms and auditoriums.
Also on the list of improvements are adjustments in the slopes of building entrance ramps, reductions in the amount of force needed to open
doors and installation of accessible toilet stalls.
The majority of the changes must be made by Dec. 31, 2014. Two other sets of improvements have deadlines of 2017 and 2023.
Mills, now one of only about 47 women's colleges in the U. S., was founded as the Young Ladies' Seminary in Benicia in 1852.
In 1871, it moved to its present campus at MacArthur Boulevard and Seminary Avenue in the Oakland foothills. It was incorporated as Mills
College, the first women's college west of the Rocky Mountains, in 1885.
It has 949 women undergraduates and 597 female and male graduate students.