The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) went into effect in July of 1992 with a two year grace period (July 1994). ADA provides that programs and activities receiving and benefiting from federal assistance shall not discriminate on the basis of handicap. The purpose of the law is to assure that persons with disabilities gain social and economic status by eliminating all forms of discrimination.
County extension offices must comply with ADA. An overview of the American Disabilities Act is included below. Special requests for program materials should be made at least two weeks in advance to the publishing coordinator, Communication Systems at Iowa State University Extension. (The ISU Extension Policy for Meeting the Publication and Video Needs of ADA Clients is included in Section 7.A, Accessibility Policies.
The Americans With Disabilities Act Overview
Overview of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Proposal for Making County Extension Offices Accessible to Persons with Disabilities.
Title II forbids state and local governments from discrimination on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place serving the public.
It requires all public service activities to be carried out in the most integrated setting that is appropriate to fit the needs of persons with disabilities.
July 26, 1992, was the date for implementing the rules and regulations of Title II of the American with Disabilities Act.
Both the owner and ISUE are responsible for making county extension offices accessible to persons with disabilities, unless the responsibility for making alterations to the building is designated in the contract. If there is no one designated in the contract, ISUE still has the responsibility for ensuring that clientele with disabilities have accessibility to services provided.
Discrimination because of contractual or other arrangement is prohibited. ISUE will be held responsible by EEOC to offer the same opportunities to clientele with disabilities as afforded to other clientele. The rationale to this provision of the law is that the owner of the building must make the building accessible to the person(s) who leases the facility and it is up to the leasee to make the facility suitable for their own clientele.
Identification of Barriers
The CEED for each county will identify barriers that would prevent clientele with disabilities from having access to the building and other services provided to the general public.
The checklist for determining accessibility to county extension offices in Iowa will be used to make the assessment of barriers that need to be removed or modified. The CEED should have completed the checklist by May 30, 1992, and submitted the findings to the county extension council. The council is responsible for getting an estimate of the cost necessary to make the building comply with the standards set forth in the ADA to the maximum extent feasible.
1. A surcharge to cover cost of auxiliary aids and barrier removal cannot be imposed on a disabled person or a group of individuals with disabilities.
2. Accommodations to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability must be made.
3. Auxiliary aids and services must be made to accommodate a person with a disability unless it would cause an undue hardship. Auxiliary aids and services include the following: Qualified interpreters, note takers, computer-aided transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening system, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, telecommunication devices for deaf persons (TDDs), Braille materials, and large print material.
If it is determined that the cost would create an undue hardship, reasonable accommodations must be made to provide program and service to clientele with disabilities.
Removal of Barriers
Architectural barriers must be removed when such removal can be easily corrected. Correction measures are:
- Install portable or permanent ramps
- Make curb cuts in sidewalks and entrances
- Reposition telephones
- Reposition shelves
- Rearrange furniture in office
- Widen doors
- Add raised markings on elevator control buttons
- Install grab bars in toilet stalls and raise height of toilet seats
- Install a full-length bathroom mirror
- Reposition the paper towel dispenser in a rest room
- Create designated accessible parking space
- Install an accessible paper cup dispenser at water fountain
- Remove high pile, low density carpeting
The county extension council must develop a priority system to make the building accessible and in compliance with ADA regulations.
Step I. Provide handicap parking and access to the building.
Step II. Provide access to those areas where services are available to the public. This includes adjusting layout of display racks, rearranging office and providing Braille and raised character signage, widening doors and providing visual alarms and installing ramps.
Step III. Provide access to rest room facilities.
All three steps should be used to create a "path of travel" which would permit persons with physical disabilities a continuous unobstructed way to enter and exit the building. This path should also include access to rest rooms, telephones and drinking fountains.
Reasonable accommodations may include providing curb service or home delivery, retrieving material from inaccessible shelves or racks or relocating activities to accessible locations.
An undue hardship may include the following:
- The nature and cost of the accommodation needed to comply with the ADA.
- The overall financial resources of ISUE, county extension council and owner of the building.
- The number of persons employed, the structure and function of the work force.
- The impact accommodation(s) would have upon the operation of the office.
The same remedies and procedures set forth in the 1964 Civil Rights Act are applicable to the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some of the remedies are:
- Permanent or temporary injunction
- Cease and decease orders
- Attorney's fees
- An order to alter facilities to make them readily accessible
- Require providing auxiliary aid or service
- Monetary damages to aggrieved persons
- Civil fines "to vindicate the public interest"
- $50,000 for a first violation and $100,000 for any subsequent violation(s).