SUPERVALU PLANS TO MAKE D.C.-AREA STORES MORE ACCESSIBLE TO THE DISABLED

MINNEAPOLIS -- Supervalu here said last week it plans to make its stores in the District of Columbia area more accessible to disabled consumers under an agreement with a disability rights group.ility Rights Council of Greater Washington and various individuals with disabilities, which charged Supervalu with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.According to the DRC, the lawsuit followed complaints

MINNEAPOLIS -- Supervalu here said last week it plans to make its stores in the District of Columbia area more accessible to disabled consumers under an agreement with a disability rights group.

ility Rights Council of Greater Washington and various individuals with disabilities, which charged Supervalu with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

According to the DRC, the lawsuit followed complaints by consumers regarding access to Shoppers stores, primarily concerning the use of cart corrals with "flag gates," which are designed to prevent shopping carts from leaving the area adjacent to a store but which also block access for wheelchair users. The DRC said virtually every Shoppers store has flag gates, including those built since the passage of the ADA in 1992.

Under terms of the agreement, Supervalu said it agreed:

To develop a plan to remove the flag gates by the end of July and complete the removal 90 days later.

To survey what it needs to do to accommodate disabled customers at each store, focusing on store entrances, shopping carts, checkout aisles, customer service counters, salad bars, restrooms, ATMs and the height of produce bags. It also said it would hire an accessibility consultant who will work with the DRC to develop the survey form.

To remove barriers to access for disabled customers within 15 months and report periodically to DRC on the progress of that effort.

Supervalu also said it agreed to reimburse the DRC $94,000 for expenses and attorneys' fees incurred in investigating the company's compliance.

Polly Deane, a Supervalu spokeswoman, said, "We fully support ADA, and we want to be in compliance at our stores." Asked if Supervalu plans to look at other corporate locations to make sure they are in compliance, Deane replied, "If being in compliance means we have to make some changes, we will look at making them."