This Month in TA’s December Transcript
Hello all and welcome! Thank you for joining me this month as we cover the Rocky Mountain ADA Center’s most commonly-asked TA’s in December. Since we usually do a live webinar on the last Friday of the month, this webinar has been pre-recorded so our families can hang stockings by the chimney with care. My name is Jenny DeVries, I am the Training Facilitator at the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, and no matter how you celebrate the holidays, I want to say thank you for joining! Let’s get started.
For maximum accessibility I will be reading off these slides word-for-word and adding in any subsequent information at the end of each slide. So, the Information, materials, and/or technical assistance are intended solely as informal guidance and are neither a determination of your legal rights or responsibilities under the ADA, nor binding on any agency with enforcement responsibility under the ADA. The Rocky Mountain ADA Center, operated by Meeting the Challenge, Inc., is funded under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90DP0018-01-00) to provide technical assistance, training, and materials to Colorado, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming on the Americans with Disabilities Act.
We are one of ten Regional ADA Centers. The Rocky Mountain Center serves region 8. To reach our center all you have to do is call 1-800-949-4232. That’s the number you’ll call for any kind of technical assistance or TA, as we like to call it. TA – is a large part of what we do. We help interpret the ADA for government officials, employers, small businesses, etc. We’re here to answer any tricky questions you might have. Network – We also have access to important entities within the ADA like the DOJ and EEOC and can refer people to our contacts within the network. Conduct research – Part of our grant funding requires we do research. For instance, we’re doing a fascinating study on how implicit bias affects people with disabilities. Training – Which is what we’re doing now, we offer training on all aspects of the ADA: from Etiquette to service animals to government’s responsibilities under the ADA. Publish – We have a wide variety of online trainings, as well as create blog posts addressing different aspects of the ADA. Social Media – We have a presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.
Our Learning Objectives today are to discuss the most common calls, emails and online requests from those in Region 8. We will review common questions about employment, program access for Title II, and Effective Communication to name a few! And we will provide resources to those TA’s. If you would like to send in a question, my contact information will be at the end of this presentation. Some questions or concerns may not arise until later, after you’ve digested the material, so please know that this is just the first step in our learning journey, and we are happy to talk with you more outside of this webinar.
Before we dive into the most common questions this month, I’d like to review Titles I, II and III of the ADA, as well as address the other two common topics we received. Title I prohibits private employers, State and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Employers must provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities when necessary to complete the essential functions of a job. This month we’ll be specifically addressing filing complaints, exceptions to Title I and general guidance for PWD requesting an accommodation. Title II applies to State and local government entities, and protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities provided by State and local government entities. Today we will cover facility access and parking. However, this month we’ve seen a lot of crossover between Title II and Title III. Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodations (businesses that are generally open to the public, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreation facilities, and doctors' offices. Public accommodations must reasonably modify their policies, practices and procedures to accommodate customers with disabilities. Also falling under the ADA is, Effective Communication, Service Animals and other laws that affect people with disabilities, including the Fair Housing Act and Section 504.
Rudolph the reindeer has recently developed anxiety from the stress of this year. He has requested a RA but the stable manager told Rudolph he can’t provide the RA. Now, the manager is telling Rudolph he won’t be leading Santa’s sleigh this year, leading Rudolph to believe he is being retaliated against for requesting an accommodation. Under the ADA, the law requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause significant difficulty or expense for the employer ("undue hardship"). In this case, seems like Rudolph’s stable manager is now taking it a step further and discriminating against Rudolph for advocating for his rights under the ADA, which is prohibited.
If Rudolph feels like he’s been discriminated against, he will need to contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The charge generally must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discrimination. If there is a State or local law that provides relief for discrimination, it may be extended to 300 days. Regardless, it’s best to contact the EEOC promptly.
A reindeer new to Santa’s sleigh team, Jackson, is still in training. His handler would like to take Jackson into her workplace but her employer is hesitant. Service Animals in training are tricky. They’re not covered under the ADA. Under the ADA, only employees with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations so if an employee without a disability is training a service animal for someone else, there is no accommodation obligation under the ADA. For employees with disabilities, an employer has a valid concern about the potential disruption a service animal in training might create so might not have to allow the employee to bring in the service animal until it is fully trained or at least until it can be in the workplace without disruption. Some states have laws addressing access for service animals in training, so employers also should check their state laws.
There are a number of resources we gave out this month related to Title I questions. The first is knowing where to file a complaint. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s phone number is 800-669-4000. Disability Law Colorado is 303-722-0300. And Colorado Civil Rights Division can be reached at 719-545-3520. Obviously these are Colorado-specific resources if you’re outside of Colorado, give us a ring and we can get ones specific to your state. As we can all tell, service animals are tricky, and as usual the Job Accommodation Network is a great resource, they have a whole resource page on service animals in the workplace. Finally, consider looking into Jan’s Q&A document, What Does Reasonable Mean? To better understand how employers should make their decisions when accommodating an employee with a disability.
For Title II we’re covering both program access and the Standards. Instead of making city sidewalks with cement, the North Pole is proposing using an enhanced thermoplastic pattern. Some things to consider when using materials in city construction are (1) is the surface material stable, firm and slip resistant throughout all weather conditions. Including rain and snow? (2) What does maintenance of the material look like over time? Is it susceptible to damage from snowplows? Does the city have a plan that can quickly repair this material when necessary? Something else to consider is if repairs will require a professional. If so, will it cause long repair times that will impact those with disabilities? Temporary interruptions due to maintenance are permitted by the ADA but the city should perform due diligence by ensuring they understand how to execute the repair process prior to any closure for repair to avoid interruptions lasting longer than necessary. Next scenario is, at a retirement home, certain elves are more independent than others. Papa Elf has said in case of emergencies, they are responsible for their own evacuation. Papa Elf has said the center would ensure safety but that they are not liable. If the senior community falls under the ADA, then there shouldn't be a policy that discriminates against people with known disabilities. It is possible, given the nature of the facility, that the ADA applies, but it's hard to tell, particularly because depending on its structure and funding, it could qualify as a Title II or III. A organization would have to be very careful about not discriminating against people with disabilities, nor making policies that put them at risk, especially in case of emergencies.
Resources for our Title II questions are the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. With regards to the Emergency Planning question, a helpful place to start comes from the ADA website, ada.gov). And finally, know your local ADA Coordinator. We can find access to these resources for you if you give us a call or email.
Title Three. While revising the entrance to their business, Gingerbread & Co., wonders if edge protection is required on ramps less than 6” high or 6’ long. As a reminder, the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design apply to both Title II and III entities. In this case, no. Edge protection is only required when the rise is greater than 6” or longer than 6’. Gingerbread & Co. has a live/ work facility and only the front room is intended as the commercial facility. They wonder if that unit’s bathroom must comply? What about public restrooms? And can the restrooms be common area restrooms used by all live/ work units regardless of if they’re in the same building or a different one? Gingerbread & Co. has a live/ work facility and only the front room is intended as the commercial facility, is the units bathroom required to comply? Commercial facilities are a unique aspect of the 2010 Standards and even from this question obviously get complicated quickly. The restroom should be accessible if it is accessed by employees and falls under new construction, but if not, then restroom access should be addressed by either readily achievable barrier removal and/ or reasonable accommodation under Title I of the ADA, if/when needed. Are public restrooms required at the property? Building code may or may not address this aspect, but the ADA does not require restrooms - only that if restrooms are provided that they be accessible. Can the restrooms be common area restrooms used by all live/ work units? Does it have to be in the same building? Or on the property in general? Again, if there were an entity that addresses this, it should be building code. The ADA aspect of this wouldn't really address your question, but if it were in a different building/ area it too should be connected via accessible route.
Title Three Resources. As a reminder, Title Three entities have general requirements of maintenance of accessible features and to remove barriers in case of alterations or new construction while also following local building codes. If you’re unsure of your responsibilities under the ADA, whether within physical barriers or metaphorical ones within your policies or procedures that discriminate against a customer trying to access goods and services.
We got a number of important questions about effective communication, particularly from or for Deaf individuals. As a reminder, People who have vision, hearing, or speech disabilities (“communication disabilities”) use different ways to communicate. For example, people who are blind may give and receive information audibly rather than in writing and people who are deaf may give and receive information through writing or sign language rather than through speech. The ADA requires that title II entities (State and local governments) and title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The goal is to ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities. Disaster strikes when, lighting the final candle of the menorah, Sarah sets off the fire alarm. First responders are called but there is no interpreter to interview her. In this case, Sarah should reach out to her local ADA Coordinator to resolve this problem. During a doctor’s visit, Jack Frost, who is hard of hearing, requests an interpreter. After receiving the bill, Jack notices that the office charged him for interpreting fees. The key to deciding what aid or service is needed to communicate effectively is to consider the nature, length, complexity, and context of the communication as well as the person’s normal method(s) of communication. Other solutions may be needed where the information being communicated is more extensive or complex, like in a doctor’s office, an interpreter generally will be needed for taking the medical history of a patient who uses sign language or for discussing a serious diagnosis and its treatment options. However, the title III entity may not place a surcharge on interpreting fees, like they did in this situation.
The ADA website has excellent resources on examples of effective communication, as well as information on the differing responsibilities of Title II and III entities. DOVE (Deaf Overcoming Violence through Empowerment) located in Denver. They have a 24-hour videophone (VP) hotline at 303-831-7874. Finally, Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind.
Other common TA’s we received were about the Fair Housing Act, Masks and Section 504. The Fair Housing Act applies to, of course, housing, which is outside the purview of the ADA. And someone asked if their landlord can request documentation of a service animal as a prerequisite to allowing the handler to live in the complex. The ADA covers places of public accommodation and the FHA covers housing. We do get a lot of housing-related questions, unfortunately we just cannot speak to them with any authority. Next was about masks, a very common question. This time, a hotel has made it policy to require people wear face masks during check in. Reasonable modifications should be discussed, but it's possibly within the hotel’s right to require the mask at this time because of a safety threat. The State of CO provides a guidance on the state mandatory mask requirement and when someone may not be required to wear one (People who are 10 years old and younger, People who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, Children ages 2 and under should NOT wear masks or cloth face coverings.) And finally, an issue with the post office. Since the post office is a federal entity, not a state or local government entity, it doesn’t fall under the ADA. The Post Office is a federal agency that is covered by the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA applies to State and Local governments so we can refer but can’t answer specifics.
We covered a lot of group with that catch all slide of other TA’s. The first and most common referral we make is to local independent living centers. With regards to the Section 504 question, both the US Attorney’s office and US DOJ Colorado office number is 303-454-0100. Fair Housing First is another common referral, their number is 888-241-7781. And of course, we’re always here to help! You can reach us at 1-800-949-4232.
That wraps it up for me! Thank you again for joining me today, or whenever you decided to tune in. We offer This Month in TA’s on the last Friday of every month, so keep an eye out for next month’s webinar! Again, my name is Jenny DeVries and on behalf of the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, we hope you all have a safe and healthy holiday!