This Month in TA’s October Transcript
Hello everyone and welcome! Thank you for joining us today as we cover the most commonly asked TA’s in October. My name is Jenny DeVries and I am the Training Facilitator at the Rocky Mountain ADA Center.
For maximum accessibility and for anyone calling in, 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 answers to 2010 ADA Standards, Title I, Effective Communication and Title II questions. Finally, we will provide resources to those TA’s. But, I want to make sure to help you meet your personal objective. So, please do not hesitate to ask questions to help us direct the learning of our group. If you feel more comfortable sending in a question via private message that works as well. 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 our 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. 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. 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 required under the ADA is Effective Communication and Barrier Removal. 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. Like Title II, Title III requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation—as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)—to comply with the ADA Standards in regards to barrier removal.
Reasonable Accommodations. Someone is making unnecessary inquiries into my RA and requiring medical documentation in spite of my obvious disability. Every employee or applicant has the right to request a RA. Employers may request documentation from any health care or rehabilitation professional if the disability is not obvious or the need for the RA is unclear, but they should not inquire into the nature, or extent of the disability. The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) has excellent fact sheets, as well as specific accommodation suggestions, they are a great resource. And there are ways to enforce your rights under the ADA if needed. What is my right to return to work after being on SSDI? If you’re having a hard time finding a job due to your disability, you’re not alone. Under Title I, it is illegal for companies to discriminate against a qualified person based on their disability. You have the right to self-disclose if you know you’ll need RA’s to perform the essential functions of a job. A good resource will be working with your local ILC to for assistance in finding a job. My supervisor is not taking effective means to stop people from verbally or physically harassing me due to my disability. It’s the employer’s responsibility to engage in the interactive process and remove workplace barriers (both physical and attitudinal) due to disability to the maximum extent appropriate. If you’re looking for advocacy, once again your local ILC can help, as well as legal representation or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who enforces Title I under the ADA.
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. For retraining or finding a job, consider the Job Accommodation Network at www.askjan.com. The Department of Vocational Rehabilitation is 719-635-3585. And finally, your local Independent Living Center as well.
Title two, 2010 Standards. Is there an ADA Accessibility Scorecard to evaluate your facility? The main resource is the ADA Checklist for existing facilities. Otherwise, accessibility consulting companies usually use proprietary data-collection software. The Checklist will walk through the basics, parking and accessible routes. The ADA Standards specify a minimum depth of 11 in. Is there a maximum? What if our handrail of an egress stair extends into clearance for an egress door? ADA Stair requirements only apply where stairs are a means or egress, or exit. So yes, the minimum is 11 inches but they could be longer if you so choose. There is also an exception for alterations where handrail extensions would project into clearances or circulation paths due to configuration. This is if it’s an alteration. New construction is less lenient because the expectation is to incorporate the requirements in the designs so the plan configuration will accommodate the extensions to not overlap circulation paths or clearances. Do non-van accessible parking spaces require an access aisle? The access aisle is the element that defines accessible parking, a means to leave the vehicle and enter the site-wide accessible route. Car parking is required to have a minimum 60" wide access aisle. Two accessible parking spaces can share a single access aisle. Does a commercial kitchen require an accessible route? Under the 2010 Standards, Employee Work Areas must have their common-use circulation paths comply with chapter 4, section 402. The only exception is if the common use circulation path located within the employee work area is less than 1000 square feet and is defined by permanently installed partitions, counters, casework, or furnishings shall not be required to comply with 402.
Title II Program Access. Who is responsible for installing curb ramps/ sidewalks in a city and who pays for it? Both Title II and Title III entities may be responsible for making the entrances to their buildings accessible. There is more responsibility on a Title II entity since upgrades for ADA compliance is typically the responsibility of the local and state government and are tax funded. In the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, there is no enforceable standard for sidewalk widths. The US Access Board’s Proposed Rights Of-Way Access Guidelines (PROWAG) provides best practices – but those are guidelines, i.e., not enforceable. A place of public accommodation is prohibited from discriminating “on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.” (36.201) A place of public accommodation is required to “remove architectural barriers in existing facilities, including communication barriers that are structural in nature, where such removal is readily achievable, i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense.” Especially since we live in the Rocky Mountain Region, however, it’s sometimes not Also, if the state or local government has fewer than 50 employees, the title II regulations do not require a Transition Plan. How can I access a state government program if it’s only online and my disability prevents use of a computer? Under Title II, a qualified person with a disability has rights under the ADA for reasonable modifications to state or local governments’ policies, practices and procedures. Contact the ADA coordinator to get accessible materials and if that does not happen, you may file a grievance under Title II.
Resources for our Title II questions are the ADA Checklist with the link below: https://www.adachecklist.org/doc/fullchecklist/ada-checklist.pdf. The 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. If you want to file a complaint, go to https://www.ada.gov/criminaljustice/cj_complaint.html. 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. I’ve been told I must pay for accessible parking. Is that acceptable under the ADA? This is acceptable as long as the charge is applied to all spots in the parking lot. But the ADA is about equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. So, the charge cannot be only applied to accessible parking, nor should the business only charge-non accessible parking. A hospital doesn’t allow overnight stays, but a new mother is experiencing issues and her husband cannot take care of the baby overnight. What is the hospitals obligation? Under the ADA, anything that impairs a major life activity is a disability. A major life activity could be considered breast-feeding. As to allowing husband to stay overnight would be a modification of policy & procedure. Does accessible parking need blue signage? Can it be bolted down or should it be mounted? There is no enforceable standard for accessible parking. Local codes vary on enforcement. The US Access Board says that there's no specified method or color of parking spaces and access aisle markings. Access aisle must be marked in a manner that discourages parking in them, especially those that are 8 ft at van spaces.
Face Masks. What if my disability makes it hard to wear a mask? Passing COVID to another customer would represent a Direct Threat to the business’ employees and other customers. It may also represent a fundamental alteration to the businesses’ service. The health and safety can be a limitation of the ADA and Covid can qualify, but must be assessed individually and based on current medical knowledge (CDC), the nature/duration/severity of risk, the probability of risk, and if there are any reasonable modifications available to mitigate the threat below the threshold of direct threat. Someone is seeking to enter a business but can’t wear a mask. What are ways we can modify our policies to accommodate them? Colorado extended their mask mandate until November and it states that exemptions are granted on the grounds of physical impossibility and safety risks for oneself and others. The individual may either bring a doctor’s letter the business may “curbside service” based on “disability” and fulfill the service without the individual having to go inside.
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. The ADA and Face Mask Policies Brief is meant for public accommodations, like for customers in businesses. If you would like to file a complaint under Title Three, the US Attorney’s Office in Denver can be reached at 303-454-0100 or the Department of Justice at 800-514-0301. And if you need advocacy you may consider the Civil Rights Education Enforcement Center for Legal Assistance (CREEC).
We got a lot of questions about Effective Communication this month. As a reminder, The purpose of the effective communication rules is to ensure that the person with a vision, hearing, or speech disability can communicate with, receive information from, and convey information to, the covered entity. The first was about Title Three responsibilities regarding effective communication. Specifically, must they give preference to the customer, and who pays for the auxiliary aid or service? The ADA requires that a public accommodation to provide “auxiliary aids and services” to ensure “effective communication,” which can differ from situation from situation. The Title III entity must provide it at no cost to the client. If the platform that is being used is not accessible, there needs to be an effort on the part of the business to secure a platform that is accessible for the person with the hearing loss. Again, at no cost to the client. This would apply to any of the meetings that is necessary to meet the client’s needs. Trying to charge someone for “the time spent making arrangements” would be considered inappropriate on the part of the business. It is the responsibility of the business to set up and pay for these costs to do business. If they have deferred to the client to make the arrangements, given their knowledge of the technology/options, the business can do that. The next commonly asked question was again about interpreters for universities. If they receive funding from the state or local government, they fall under Title two effective communication requirements, which, again, are more stringent than title three responsibilities. Title two entities must give first preference to the individual with the disability. Under the ADA Effective Communication requirement, the University will be required to cover the costs of an interpreter. And finally, Companions have a right to interpreters as stated in the ADA Effective Communication requirement, under Companions it is stated that: In many situations, covered entities communicate with someone other than the person who is receiving their goods or services. For example, school staff usually talk to a parent about a child’s progress; hospital staff often talk to a patient’s spouse, other relative, or friend about the patient’s condition or prognosis. The rules refer to such people as “companions” and require covered entities to provide effective communication for companions who have communication disabilities.
Does anyone have any questions?
That wraps it up for me! Thank you again for joining me today, you all were WONDERFUL. I really appreciated your questions. If you need to get to another meeting or to take your dog out y’all can go ahead! I’ll be here for the next 15 minutes or so to answer any other questions you might have. Thanks again!