Design for Accessibility
A Cultural Administrator's Handbook
Framing the Discussion
No discussion on accessibility is complete without understanding the history
of accessibility as a civil right. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are significant laws in the United States
long history of enacting legislation to ensure the civil rights of its people. The
concept of civil rights in this country began with the signing of the Declaration
of Independence. Unfortunately, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that
all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of
Happiness, although promising in sentiment, did not provide specifics. Hence,
the disability rights movement, although relatively new, vividly brings the
needs, concerns and rights of people with disabilities to national attention.
1776: The Declaration of Independence states all men are created equal.
1865: The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolishes slavery.
1868: The Fourteenth Amendment holds that no state can deny any U.S.
citizen equal protection under the law.
1920: The Nineteenth Amendment grants women the right to vote.
1935: The League of the Physically Handicapped, New York City, protests
discrimination against people with disabilities by federal relief
programs with sit-ins, picket lines and demonstrations.
1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination
based on race, sex, national origin or religion, and prohibits public
1967: The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits age
discrimination for 40 to 65-year-olds. In 1986, it is amended to
remove the 65-year-old age cap.
1968: The Architectural Barriers Act mandates that federally constructed
buildings and facilities be accessible to people with physical
1970: Disabled in Action organizes, after a successful employment
discrimination suit against New York City s public school system,
and files litigation on behalf of disability rights in several cities.
1971: The U.S. District Court of Alabama, in a crucial victory for
de-institutionalization, rules that people with disabilities cannot be
locked away in custodial institutions without treatment or education.
1971: Disabled activists in Washington, DC demonstrate to protest the
Presidential veto of what will become the Rehabilitation Act.
Continued on inside back cover
Design for Accessibility
A CULTURAL ADMINISTRATOR'S HANDBOOK
FOR THE ARTS
nun iiimii nun
OF STATE ARTS AGENCIES
The Kennedy Center Met Life Foundation
Alex Wilhite, "Illusion of Red & Blue," 1988, acrylic on canvas, 38 x 28 inches. Courtesy of
VSA arts Gallery, ©Alex Wilhite, 1994. Postminimalist Alex Wilhite's large-scale works are
boldly abstract, geometrically precise and typically characterized by bright, strong colors.
He makes his own paint from earth materials and uses acid-free paper, canvas and wood.
Wilhite is a graduate of the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and his work has been
shown throughout the United States and Europe.
Print copies of "Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook" may be
obtained by contacting:
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA)
1029 Vermont Avenue, NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-6352 voice
(202) 347-5948 TTY
(202) 737-0526 fax
Individuals who do not use conventional print may access this publication on the
Arts Endowment Web site at www.arts.gov or contact its AccessAbility Office for help in
acquiring an audio recording of this book:
National Endowment for the Arts
Office for AccessAbility
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20506-0001
(202) 682-5532 voice
(202) 682-5496 TTY
(202) 682-5715 fax
The information presented in this handbook is intended solely as guidance and is
neither a determination of an organization's legal rights and responsibilities under
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended; the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), or any of the laws referenced herein, nor binding on any
agency with enforcement responsibilities under Section 504 or the ADA. It is not
intended to and may not be relied upon to create any right or benefit, substantive
or procedural, enforceable at law by a party against the United States.
© NASAA. All rights reserved.
A Message from Met Life Foundation
Ten years ago MetLife Foundation partnered with the National Endowment
for the Arts and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies in the
development and publication of "Design for Accessibility: An Arts
Administrator's Guide." We are pleased to be part of this latest effort
to sponsor "Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook."
Making cultural facilities and programs more accessible for people of all
abilities is an integral part of MetLife Foundation's commitment to
inclusion. Working together, we can make a difference.
Every person in America, including the 54 million citizens with disabilities
and more than 35 million Americans who are age 65 and older, should be
able to participate in the arts and the humanities. Cultural communities
across the country are focusing on inclusion: integrating older adults and
people with disabilities into all aspects of the organization — from planning
and design to marketing and technical assistance.
The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), the John F.
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the National Endowment for the
Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts are committed to fully
accessible programming. Accessibility, however, must ultimately become
everyone's responsibility to make a lasting difference, and it is organizations
and individuals in the field who are making it happen.
"Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook" represents
an update of the Arts Endowment's "The Arts and 504" (1992) with
additional information from the 700-page "Design for Accessibility: An Arts
Administrator's Guide" produced by the Arts Endowment and NASAA in
1994. This resource is designed to help you not only comply with Section
504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, but to assist you in making
access an integral part of your organization's planning, mission, programs,
outreach, meetings, budget and staffing.
In the new millennium, inclusion must be ever present in our vision. As
new technologies and methods are developed, the possibilities of access
will change. Since the disability rights movement rose to prominence in
the 1970s, federal legislation has been passed, and disabled individuals are
finally becoming part of the cultural mainstream. Great strides have been
made, particularly in architectural and program access. Many Americans
with disabilities now have the opportunity to create and participate fully in
the arts and humanities. Much work, however, remains to be done.
We hope this handbook will assist you with that important work.
Dana Gioia, Chairman Bruce Cole, Chairman
National Endowment for the Arts National Endowment for the Humanities
Jonathan Katz, Chief Derek E. Gordon, Senior
Executive Officer, National Vice President, John F. Kennedy
Assembly of State Arts Agencies Center for the Performing Arts
Goal of This Handbook
The goal of "Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook" is
to provide guidance to cultural administrators on accessibility and inclusion
for creating new or opening up existing programs to include individuals with
disabilities and older adults, whether as staff, volunteers, program
participants or audience members.
"Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook" addresses
several key points:
• Cultural programs must be fully accessible and inclusive to every
individual, including citizens with disabilities and older adults.
• Cultural service organizations need to set an example for their
constituents by making their facilities, meetings, Web sites, print
materials and activities fully accessible and inclusive to everyone.
• The assurance of equal opportunity for all people to participate in
the humanities and the arts should be a fundamental starting point.
This handbook offers introductory guidance on how to accomplish
these goals. More information about accessibility may be found under
"Accessibility" at the National Endowment for the Arts' Web site,
www.arts.gov, the National Endowment for the Humanities Web site,
www.neh.gov, and by contacting organizations listed in the resource
pages at the end of each chapter.
"We are advocates for full access to the arts. All arts organizations
should be physically and programmatically accessible to all people
with disabilities, artists and audiences alike. If these organizations
provide anything less, they are breaking laws that have been in
existence for thirty years."
Margaret Staton, Founder/Chair, and Deborah Lewis, Executive Director,
The Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation
Table of Contents
The Goal of this Handbook 2
Chapter 1 Planning with Inclusion as the Goal 5
Key Planning Points for Cultural Organizations 6
Objectives and Strategies 7
Planning and Partnership Questions 8
Chapter 2 Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 15
The Laws and Guidelines 16
Key Requirements and Best Practices 23
Americans with Disabilities Act Questions and Answers 32
Chapter 3 Architectural Access 55
Universal Design 55
Surveying for Accessibility 59
Preliminary Guide to Architectural Accessibility 62
Chapter 4 Architectural Access to Historic Properties 87
Planning Accessibility Modifications 88
Making Historic Landscapes Accessible 92
Chapter 5 Effective Communication and Program Access 97
For People who are Blind or Have Low Vision 98
For People with Hearing or Speech Disabilities 102
For People with Cognitive Disabilities 108
Chapter 6 Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 115
Museums, Exhibitions and Visual Arts 117
The Performing Arts 121
Multimedia: Film, Video, Radio, Television, Web sites and the Internet 127
Literary Activities 1 30
Chapter 7 Meetings, Panels, Lectures and Conferences .137
Accessible Presentations 139
Chapter 8 Training for Staff, Board Members, Volunteers and Constituents 145
Components of an Effective Training Program 146
Producing an Accessibility Conference or Workshop 149
Chapter 9 Audience Development and Marketing 155
Invite, Welcome and Respect 155
Basic Strategies and Tools for Marketing Accessibility 156
Targeting a Specific Population or Group 157
Useful Tools 158
Chapter 10 Accessibility is a Work in Progress 163
Dance Detour, Chicago, IL: Alana Yvonne Wallace, Maria Lainer and
Planning With Inclusion
as the Goal
In the year 2003, more than 54 million Americans live with disabilities.
Because of advances in medical science, the number of people surviving
disabling accidents and conditions has grown and the proportion of people
with disabilities in American society is increasing. As a result of federal
legislation focusing on education, employment, and access to public and
private services and facilities, people with disabilities are increasingly
becoming an economic force, as well as gaining access to the cultural
Further, 37 million Americans are age 65 or older. By the year 2030, the
Census Bureau estimates that one out of four people will be over the age
of 65. The profile of older adults is changing. People over 65 are healthier,
work longer, are more interested in volunteer opportunities and have more
resources than in previous generations. Increasingly, they will be more
involved in recreational and cultural activities. Cultural organizations must
plan for inclusion by providing fully accessible spaces and programs that
welcome people of all ages and abilities.
As these demographic changes take place, the concept of universal design
in architecture has provided a new way of thinking about inclusion. The goal
of universal design is to make the human environment usable by as many
people as possible.
Cultural organizations and agencies must move beyond old concepts that
define people with disabilities and older adults as a "special" group of
people. The focus of cultural organizations needs to shift to a policy of
"State arts agencies have the opportunity to change the way their
grantees think about the ADA. They can help their constituents
embrace and not fear what the program is about. It is a work in
progress — and not meant to be done tomorrow. Why do it?
Because it is the right thing to do. The arts are for everyone."
Wayne Lawson, Executive Director, Ohio State Arts Council
inclusion, a way of ensuring that people with disabilities and older adults
have the same opportunities as other participants. Accessibility leads to
inclusion and should be viewed as an organizational asset that creates a
larger audience by engaging everyone in the arts and humanities. Older
adults and people with disabilities will patronize organizations where they
feel comfortable and welcomed.
Key Planning Points for
• Accessibility is an organizational asset.
• Access is a civil rights issue. Access to cultural programs is a legal
requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of
the Rehabilitation Act. State humanities councils and state arts agencies
receiving federal funding need to understand these legal requirements.
• Involve people with disabilities and people of all ages throughout the
accessibility planning process by establishing an access advisory
Include people with disabilities in the organization's definition of diversity.
Plan for the inclusion of people with disabilities and people of all ages as
an integral part of long-range or strategic plans.
Articulate inclusiveness in value statements, goals and program
Be a leader. Broker new partnerships; facilitate learning experiences
and reward excellence.
Include individuals with disabilities as staff, board members and
Remember that accessibility is only one means to a larger goal —
inclusion in the cultural community of people of all ages, with and
"To be creative in later life provides an invaluable model of what is
possible as we age, for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren
and society. As a role model in your family or in the lives of others, you
can shape individual thinking and societal policies about aging.
Historically, creativity has distinguished elders as "keepers" of the
culture, those who pass the history and values of family and community
on to the next generation. ..most important, aging and creativity present
an unparalleled opportunity for us as individuals, to grow as we grow
older, in ways that in younger years we could not even have dreamed."
"The Creative Age" by Gene D. Cohen, M.D., PH.D., Avon Books, Inc., 2000
Planning with Inclusion as the Goal
Objectives and Strategies
When developing a plan to achieve accessibility and inclusion, an organization
should define its direct internal and external objectives, including:
• Thorough review of procedures and means of interacting with
• Appointment of an accessibility coordinator.
• Accessibility of buildings and grounds.
• Accessibility of public meetings.
• Design of print materials for legibility and easy comprehension.
• Accessibility of Web site for use by people with hearing, mobility
and visual disabilities.
• Accessibility of other communication systems.
• Programming respectful and reflective of the community.
Indirect objectives for promoting accessibility and inclusion may involve:
• Educating constituents about their legal obligations and effective
ways to achieve accessible programs and activities.
• Providing technical aid to constituents to remove physical barriers.
• Serving as an information resource and model of accessibility.
• Assessing the economic impact of audience expansion on cultural
• Creating partnerships that promote inclusion and access.
"In order for a state agency to have a commitment to ADA, the ground
work must be done by the 504/ADA coordinator. The coordinator must
ensure that staff and board are educated and continuously updated
regarding issues of compliance. The Ohio Arts Council's access work
includes: mandating that at least one person with a disability serve on
every panel; establishing a statewide network of artists with disabilities;
and professional development grants to assist their careers. None of this
would have been possible without our Access Advisory Committee of
artists with disabilities, keeping staff and board aware of access issues,
and, most important, the strong and steadfast support of our Executive
Director and our Board."
Phyllis Hairston, Building Diverse Audiences & 504/ADA Coordinator,
Ohio Arts Council
8 Chapter 1
Planning and Partnership Questions
No single strategy or plan is right for every cultural organization. A plan
should be tailored to meet the needs of an organization's existing and
future constituencies. The best way to do this is by including people with
disabilities and people of all ages in the planning process. The following
questions can help clarify what strategies are appropriate for your
Q. For grant making organizations, such as state humanities councils and
state arts agencies, what is the organization's commitment to ensuring that
people with disabilities and people of all ages have access to the cultural
activities within their area?
A. An organization should work with staff and representatives from the
• Provide technical assistance to applicants and grantees.
• Ask grantees to document their accessibility efforts or assessments.
• Include accessible language in grant making criteria and application
• Fund accessibility projects as part of audience expansion, technology
programs and inclusiveness initiatives.
• Establish a complaint procedure.
Q. How can a cultural organization work together with its constituency
to make cultural resources more inclusive and accessible to everyone?
A. Many tools exist to aid this discussion. The organization can send
a questionnaire to the field to elicit the accessibility achievements and
needs of constituents. It can hold strategic planning forums that include
participants from other cultural organizations and from the disability
community. The most useful tool is the creation of an ongoing advisory
committee that includes people, with and without disabilities, who, along
with staff and board members, help to develop the inclusive aspects of
the organization's strategic plan. It is also important to have people with
disabilities on review panels, on staff and on the board of directors.
Q. What are some strategies a cultural organization can use to help
constituents achieve more inclusive environments?
A. In addition to funding, the organization can provide information and
technical assistance with assessment, development and execution of
accessibility plans. It can offer access workshops and include accessibility
on the agenda at statewide or regional cultural conferences. It can make
Planning With Inclusion as the Goal
accessibility resources available in print material, electronic postings of
access resources on the organization's Web site and find ways for other
groups with good track records to share their success stories.
Remember that many nonprofit organizations, as well as state and federal
agencies dealing with disability and accessibility issues, may also provide
information and services.
Q. How can a cultural organization promote partnerships?
A. A cultural organization, particularly a regional, state or local arts agency
or state humanities council, knows its constituency and is familiar with other
cultural organizations in its area. It can work to promote partnerships
between complementary organizations. Strategies might include sharing the
cost of equipment, promoting joint fundraising projects and producing
cultural access guides. An organization may encourage constituents to form
partnerships with private foundations and corporations to provide services,
products or funding. An organization may also acknowledge its constituents'
successes through awards, in "best practices" publications and feature
articles, or on Web sites.
Q. What are the steps in planning for an accessible environment?
A. The first step in the planning process is making the commitment to
accessibility. Assessing the organization's current accessibility assets and
planning for what it needs should follow. Finally, an organization should
advertise its accessibility assets to its constituents.
Q. How does a cultural organization evaluate its accessibility assets?
A. Chart what accessibility assets the organization has and what assets
it needs to meet or exceed legal standards. Look at the buildings, grounds,
programming, how meetings are conducted and communications systems.
"We at the Arts Endowment believe that it is important to listen to and
celebrate the diverse voices of America, to literally hear and see all
America singing and talking and painting and writing. Through lessons
gleaned from the challenges of everyday life, Americans with disabilities
have an important contribution to make to our democracy. We need to
challenge America's sense of ease and entitlement, and demand that
our nation open the doors of our cultural institutions so that people
with disabilities may contribute their vision and craft to our country's
journey through the rich and complex landscape of the 21st century."
William Ivey, Chairman, National Endowment for the Arts (1998-2001)
10 Chapter 1
Examine procedures for interaction with employees, volunteers, program
participants and audience members. The assessment should involve staff,
the board of directors, outside consultants, the accessibility advisory
committee, audience members and program participants.
Strategies should be developed to obtain needed accessibility assets as
part of the overall strategic plan. An organization must determine:
• Who will be involved in implementing the plan and what their roles
• What outside professional help will be needed.
• What it will cost to implement the plan.
• How the work will be funded.
• Whether the work will be done all at once or in stages.
Q. How does an organization use its accessibility assets to attract new
A. All too often organizations do substantial work to achieve inclusiveness
but neglect to tell anyone about it. An important part of the planning process
is to evaluate the organization's current marketing plan to see that it
promotes the organization's accessibility assets, and to assure that its
marketing tools reach people with various disabilities.
Q. When does the planning process end?
A. Planning is an organizational tool. Although a particular plan ends when
the objectives and goals are reached (or a determination is made that they
cannot be reached), the planning process never ends. Access issues, in
particular, need ongoing attention. A permanent accessibility advisory
committee can help keep the organization on track. A sound organization
uses planning as a way to keep the objectives and goals of the organization
balanced and to evaluate how well its mission is being met.
Planning With Inclusion as the Goal 11
Planning for Accessibility
"A State Arts Agency Strategic Planning Tool Kit"
Published in 2000 by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
(NASAA) with advice and funding from the National Endowment for
the Arts (NEA), the tool kit explores the conceptual basis of planning,
outlines the process to use in creating a good strategic plan and
includes case studies.
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA)
1 029 Vermont Avenue, NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-6352 voice
(202) 347-5948 TTY
(202) 737-0526 fax
"A Universal Environment: Beyond Access to Opportunity"
The New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) created this useful
resource for accessibility planning, which is available on their Web site.
New York State Council on the Arts
1 75 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 627-4455 voice
The Office for AccessAbility of the National Endowment for the
The NEA Office for AccessAbility, established in 1976, is the
Endowment's advocacy/technical assistance arm for people with
disabilities, older adults, veterans and people living in institutions.
• Providing technical assistance to staff and grantees on making the
arts fully accessible and compliant with the Endowment's Section
504 regulations and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
• Initiating cooperative projects and leadership initiatives with other
federal agencies and nonprofit groups to educate professionals
concerning accessibility issues.
• Encouraging support for the needs of older adults, individuals with
disabilities and people living in institutions.
12 Chapter 1
• Assisting applicants and grantees with project development involving
• Organizing and presenting panels, seminars and workshops for
NEA staff, grantees and other federal agencies.
National Endowment for the Arts
Office for AccessAbility
1 100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20506
(202) 682-5532 voice
(202) 682-5496 TTY
(202) 682-5715 fax
U.S. Census Bureau Statistics
The United States Bureau of the Census is the official resource for
social, demographic and economic statistics. They also provide data on
Disability Statistics (1997)
• Nearly 1 in 5 people — 54 million — said they have some level of
disability, while 1 in 8 — 33 million — report they have a severe
• Among the population aged 15 and over, 25 million have difficulty
walking a quarter of a mile or climbing a flight of 10 stairs, or have to
use an ambulatory aid.
• 2.2 million are wheelchair users.
• 6.4 million use canes, crutches or walkers. 16.4 million have other
• 18 million have difficulty lifting and carrying a 10-pound bag of
groceries or grasping small objects.
• 7.7 million people have trouble seeing the words and letters in
ordinary newspaper print (even with glasses).
• 8 million people have difficulty hearing or are deaf.
• 14.3 million have a mental disability, including 3.5 million with a
U.S. Census Bureau
Washington, DC 20233
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC: Visitor Freddie Pecco with tactile and
Legal Overview: the ADA
and the Rehabilitation Act
This chapter provides cultural administrators with an overview of the general
legal principles used to achieve accessibility for persons with disabilities.
Three key federal accessibility laws require all organizations that serve the
public or receive direct or indirect federal funds to enable people with
disabilities to enjoy the benefits of the organization's services.
Cultural organizations must ensure that these laws are upheld both within
their own organization and by any subgrantee or subcontractor receiving
federal funding. For example, a state arts agency or humanities
organization's enforcement responsibility would include: providing
technical assistance; establishing a complaint procedure; investigating
any complaints; and, in the instance of a violation, terminating funds
and, if appropriate, referring the complaint for further enforcement.
"The disability rights movement, over the last couple of decades, has made
the injustices faced by people with disabilities visible to the American
public and to politicians. This required reversing the centuries-long
history of 'out of sight, out of mind' that the segregation of disabled
people served to promote.
The disability movement adopted many of the strategies of the civil
rights movement before it. Like the African-Americans who sat in at
segregated lunch counters and refused to move to the back of the bus,
people with disabilities sat in federal buildings, obstructed the movement
of inaccessible buses and marched through the streets to protest
injustice. And like the civil rights movements before it, the disability rights
movement sought justice in the courts and in the halls of Congress."
"The History of the ADA: A Movement Perspective," by Arlene Mayerson,
1992, legal counsel for Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Three pieces of federal legislation have had a significant impact on cultural
organizations: the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973, as amended, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
This chapter outlines the three federal laws and their implementing
standards, and discusses some of the key legal requirements and best
practices that maximize inclusion and opportunities for compliance with
the laws while minimizing risks.
Law and Guidelines
Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 ("ABA")
(42 U.S.C. §4151 etseq.)
Cultural organizations that use federal funds to design, construct
or alter a building must comply with a minimum level of physical
The Architectural Barriers Act applies to buildings constructed or altered by,
on behalf of, or for the use of the federal government, to federal leases and
• to be financed in whole or in part by a grant or a loan made by the
United States after August 12, 1968, if such building or facility is subject
to standards for design, construction or alteration issued under authority or
the law authorizing such grant or loan; or
• to be constructed under authority of the National Capital Transportation
Act of 1965, or title III of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit
Other buildings or facilities constructed by recipients of federal funds are
subject to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requires all new
construction and alterations to be accessible. Regulations implementing
Section 504 "deem" compliance with the Uniform Federal Accessibility
Standards (UFAS) to be in compliance with Section 504. Both statutes
require accessible construction, so the compliance obligation for new
construction is the same.
ABA requirements do not address the activities or programs conducted
in those buildings and facilities.
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 17
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
(29 U.S.C. § 794 for Section 504)
Cultural organizations, private or public, that receive direct
or indirect federal funds or federal financial support must
make programs, services and activities accessible, including
The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in
programs conducted by federal agencies, in federal employment, in the
employment practices of federal contractors and in programs receiving
federal financial assistance, including state and local governments and
The Rehabilitation Act contains five sections that address different aspects
of equal opportunity for people with disabilities. In summary, the sections
and their requirements are:
Section 501. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the
federal government and requires affirmative action in the hiring of people
with disabilities by government agencies.
Section 502. Establishes the Architectural and Transportation Barriers
Compliance Board and gives the board authority to enforce the
Architectural Barriers Act of 1968.
Section 503. Prohibits employment discrimination by federal contractors
and requires anyone receiving a contract or subcontract from the federal
government in excess of $10,000 to have an affirmative action plan for
hiring qualified people with disabilities.
Section 504. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability and
requires federal agencies and any organization that receives federal
funding to make its programs and activities accessible to people with
Section 508. Revised in 1998, requires that any electronic or information
technology developed, maintained, procured or used by federal agencies
be accessible and usable by federal employees and members of the
public with disabilities seeking information or services from federal
Federal agencies each have their own section 504 regulations and cultural
organizations (private and public) must comply with the Section 504
regulations of all agencies providing them with federal funds, whether
18 Chapter 2
directly or indirectly. For example, a museum that receives funding from
the U.S. Department of Education (direct), and funding from their state
humanities council, which received funding from the National Endowment
for the Humanities (indirect), must comply with both federal agencies'
Section 504 regulations.
Indirect federal financial support includes pass-through money and
subgrants. The funds may come from the state or local government, arts
or humanities council, but that organization is actually passing on federal
funds. For example, when:
• a state arts agency dispenses federal funds from the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA);
• a state humanities council dispenses funds from the National
Endowment for the Humanities (NEH);
• a state department of education dispenses funds from the United States
Department of Education;
• a state arts council dispenses NEA funds to a local arts agency, which in
turn subgrants them to a nonprofit organization; or
• local governments use federal revenue-sharing funds to support arts and
then, in each case, the ultimate fund recipient must comply with the
dispensing agency's Section 504 regulations.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA")
(42 U.S.C. § 12101 etseq.)
Cultural organizations, regardless of whether they receive federal
financial assistance and whether they are public or private entities,
must not discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Any public
or private organization that meets the definition of a covered entity
as contained in the ADA must comply.
In 1990, Congress enacted legislation to expand the civil rights of all
individuals with disabilities. The ADA is more sweeping in its coverage
than Section 504. It goes well beyond federally funded organizations to
encompass private sector entities that serve the public, including cultural
organizations that do not receive federal financial support. The ADA
prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and
local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities,
transportation and telecommunications.
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 19
The ADA contains five titles that extend different aspects of equal
opportunity for people with disabilities. The titles and their requirements are:
Title I — Employment. Requires all employers with 15 or more employees
to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to
benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available
Title II — State and Local Government. Requires that all state and local
governments (their departments and agencies) give people with
disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their public
programs, activities and services (e.g., public education, employment,
transportation, recreation, health care, social services, courts, voting
and town meetings).
Title III — Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private
Organizations. Requires places of public accommodation to meet
architectural accessibility standards for new and altered buildings and
remove barriers in existing buildings where such removal is readily
achievable; make reasonable modifications to policies, practices and
procedures; provide effective communication mechanisms for people with
hearing, vision or speech disabilities; and other access requirements.
Title IV — Telecommunications. Amends the Communications Act
of 1934 to require common carriers (telephone companies) to provide
interstate and intrastate Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS)
24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This title addresses captioning of public
service announcements. (Captioning and video description of television
programming are addressed in later statutes and in regulations issued
by the Federal Communications Commission.)
Title V — Miscellaneous Provisions. States, among other provisions,
that federal laws shall not supersede state laws with more stringent
Federal Accessibility Standards
Federal law requires that organizations adhere to physical accessibility
standards to comply with the three laws described above. The U.S.
Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board)
is responsible for developing accessibility guidelines to assist federal
standard-setting agencies to implement the Architectural Barriers Act
20 Chapter 2
of 1968 (ABA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 (ADA).
The Access Board has published two sets of guidelines:
• The Minimum Guidelines and Requirements for Accessible Design
were used as the basis for the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards
(UFAS) published by the General Services Administration, Department
of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Postal Service and the
Department of Defense under the ABA.
• The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) form the basis of the
accessibility standards published by the Department of Justice and
the Department of Transportation to implement the ADA.
In 1999, the Access Board began updating and revising both standards in
order to make them more consistent with one another. These standards will
contain the minimum requirements necessary for compliance with the ABA,
Section 504 and the ADA, and should be completed by 2003.
In general, private nonprofit and for profit cultural organizations (places of
public accommodation) are subject to the ADA Standards including the
ADAAG. Federal agencies, public cultural organizations (state or local
government agencies) and private organizations receiving direct or indirect
federal funds are subject to UFAS. This includes the National Endowment
for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).
Under Title II of the ADA, as will be discussed, in certain circumstances
public cultural agencies not receiving federal funding may have a choice
between standards. Neither the ADA Standards including the ADAAG nor
UFAS supersede state or local laws that provide greater or equal benefit
to individuals with disabilities.
Cultural organizations that fall under more than one of these mandatory
standards should follow the requirement that provides the greatest level
Administrative Requirements of Section 504 and Title II
of the ADA
Congress passes laws and then directs various federal agencies to develop
regulations that are used as the tools by which the agencies enforce the
laws. For example, Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act and directed
each federal agency to develop its own set of Section 504 regulations to
implement agency programs. Congress passed the Americans with
Disabilities Act and directed the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) to develop the regulations for Title I and the
Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Transportation to
develop the regulations and accessibility standards for Titles II and III.
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 21
Federal agencies each have their own Section 504 regulations. Organizations
receiving federal funding should determine what the Section 504 requirements
are for each agency from which it receives funding. The National Endowment
for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
amended their Section 504 regulations in 1991 to require that their grantees
follow UFAS. If the grantee is also a place of public accommodation, it is
also subject to Title III of the ADA, which requires compliance with the
Title III regulations and ADA Standards.
There are a number of administrative requirements outlined in most Section
504 regulations and/or in Title II of the ADA. Five key requirements are
highlighted below. Many state agencies and cultural organizations that
receive federal funding have already met these requirements. If an
organization has not taken these steps, it should do so immediately.
1. Appoint a staff member as the ADA/504 coordinator (or accessibility
coordinator) to coordinate the organization's ADA/504 obligations.
2. Provide public notice of events and activities that indicate the
organization will comply with the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA.
3. Establish internal grievance procedures for individuals with disabilities.
4. Conduct a self-evaluation of all policies, practices and programs to
determine if they are equally available to people with and without
5. Develop a transition plan to identify what structural or physical
changes should be made to achieve program access, and a time
frame for implementation.
State and local laws may affect cultural organizations and must be checked
individually since they vary from state to state. There are two types of state
and local laws that may have an impact on accessibility issues for cultural
• Nondiscrimination laws may cover smaller cultural organizations not
covered by federal law and may impose stricter standards than federal
"I'm always surprised by discrimination in the creative community.
When a director says, 'I don't know how to use you', an educator says,
'I can't see a way to let you participate with the group', or a facilities
coordinator says, 'We weren't able to make this event accessible'; it
still catches me off-guard. I believe that truly creative people don't
discriminate because they are able to see the possibilities and
potential in all people and in all situations."
Cindy Brown, ARTability: Accessing Arizona's Arts, Phoenix, AZ
22 Chapter 2
law. State and local laws may also permit lawsuits providing the
successful party specific relief such as accommodations (e.g., assistive
listening systems for individuals with hearing-loss or more integrated
seating options for people who use wheelchairs and/or other mobility
aids), as well as damages and the recovery of legal fees.
• Building Codes may contain technical provisions related to construction,
renovations and alterations. Cultural organizations must comply with
building codes when they obtain building permits and certificates of
Enforcement and Complaint Procedures
There are consequences for noncompliance with access laws. Honest good
faith efforts to comply with access laws and the treatment of all people with
equality and dignity can help avoid complaints and lawsuits.
When an organization applies to the NEA, the NEH, or to a local, state
or regional arts agency or humanities council, it is required to sign an
assurance or certification of compliance with federal nondiscrimination
laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA. Various
federal, state, local and regional agencies are responsible for enforcing
If an individual believes that an organization has discriminated on the
basis of disability under:
• Section 504 - they may file an administrative complaint with the federal
or state agency that funded the organization;
• Title I, II, or III of the ADA - they may file a complaint with the designated
federal enforcement agency such as the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission or the Department of Justice, or under Titles II and III, they
may skip the administrative complaint process and file a private lawsuit.
"The major issue is accessibility with dignity. It is not enough to get into a
building just any old way. I like to get into a building at the front with
everybody else, where the rest of the society gets in."
Itzhak Perlman, violinist
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 23
Key Requirements and Best Practices
Frequently cultural administrators ask what their organization should do to be in
compliance with disability rights laws. The three federal laws addressed in this
• equal opportunity (and the provision of any reasonable modifications,
auxiliary aids or services necessary to achieve it);
• basic standards of architectural access; and
• equal access to employment, programs, activities, goods and services.
A cultural organization's responsibilities and obligations under the
Architectural Barriers Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Titles I,
II and III of the ADA focus on several key requirements. These laws and
regulations do not tell organizations how to accomplish these goals. Instead,
the laws and regulations have been written to allow as much flexibility as
possible. Achieving accessibility and compliance with disability laws is an
ongoing process. Good accessibility practices can maximize the opportunity
for compliance while minimizing risks. These practices should complement
any existing accessibility efforts and planning that cultural organizations
have already undertaken.
1. Do not discriminate against individuals with disabilities.
Best Practice: Make nondiscrimination mandatory. Emphasize to
employees, contractors and grantees that compliance with accessibility
requirements and nondiscrimination laws is mandatory. Granting agencies
commonly require grantees to obtain written assurances to this effect
from subgrantees. By emphasizing and highlighting these provisions in
all contracts, the institution makes all entities with which it does business
aware of the importance of these provisions.
Best Practice: Make accessibility and nondiscrimination an integral and
routine part of day-to-day operations. Secure leadership and institutional
commitments from all employees and volunteers — from the board,
executive director and management team, to every administrative,
production, design and maintenance person, to volunteer docents and
ushers. Make this commitment internally and externally visible.
lothing about us without us. We are looking for programs that are
integrated, but in which we have real power. This is not art for us,
this is art by us. "
Victoria Ann Lewis, founder and co-director of Other Voices, Mark Taper
Forum, Los Angeles, CA
Best Practice: Apply accessibility laws to all functions. Understanding
that accessibility laws apply to all functions of the organization whether
on-site or off-site is essential. This includes performances, exhibits,
conferences, panel meetings, grant reviews, fundraisers, special events
and staff gatherings — no matter where conducted. If a cultural organization
sponsors an off-site event, the alternate site must also be accessible. It is
important to visit and evaluate a site before committing to it.
Best Practice: Include indemnification provisions in contracts and
grants. To maximize protection, include a provision requiring all
subgrantees and contractors to fully indemnify the cultural organization
in the event of an administrative complaint to a federal, state or local
agency or lawsuit related to discrimination or lack of accessibility.
Indemnification provisions should include the actual cost of the award,
court costs, legal fees and the cost of professional experts, as well as
the time of the cultural organization's staff and board of directors.
2. Provide individuals with disabilities with effective
communication mechanisms and an equal opportunity
to benefit from programs, activities, goods and services.
Section 504 and the ADA, and their implementing regulations, are minimum
legal requirements. They are intended to provide people with disabilities
an equal opportunity to participate in programs, activities, goods and
services in an integrated setting. Programs include activities that a cultural
organization makes available to the public such as performances, tours,
receptions, special events, lectures, seminars, educational programs,
workshops, residencies, exhibitions and conferences.
With rare exceptions, Section 504, and Titles II and III of the ADA require that
organizations also provide auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective
communication with individuals with hearing or vision loss. These may include
services such as qualified interpreters, readers and note takers; devices such
as assistive listening systems, accessible computers, written materials for
individuals with hearing loss, taped text and braille or large print materials
for individuals with vision loss; and flexibility in procedures, such as work
Cultural organizations should be inclusive in all aspects of their activities.
They should create new or re-introduce existing programs and activities in
which people with disabilities may participate in an integrated and inclusive
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 25
Best Practice: Appoint a staff member to be the accessibility
coordinator for the organization's accessibility efforts. The accessibility
coordinator becomes the "in-house" expert for guiding the organization,
its board, staff, volunteers and grantees (if applicable) toward inclusion
of people with disabilities and compliance with the ADA and Section 504
regulations. However, remember that compliance and accessibility must
be everyone's responsibility.
Best Practice: Establish an access advisory committee. Seek out and
include input and advice from knowledgeable individuals with disabilities
representing different segments of the disability community. They can:
educate the organization about legal and social issues related to
accessibility; evaluate existing programs, policies and facilities; identify
areas for improvement; and recommend solutions. Work in partnership
with local membership organizations for people with disabilities, parents
of disabled children, service agencies, independent living centers,
advocacy groups, schools and local government entities, such as
vocational rehabilitation and community service boards.
3. Remove barriers to existing facilities and assure that
all new construction, renovations and alterations meet
or exceed applicable federal accessibility standards.
• New Construction. The most rigorous physical accessibility
requirements apply to new construction. All new construction of buildings
and facilities must meet or exceed the requirements of applicable federal,
state and local accessibility standards and codes. These standards and
codes set forth minimum standards with which all new construction must
comply. Organizations are encouraged to go beyond the minimum
standards to achieve the greatest degree of accessibility. For example,
an organization might elect to provide more accessible seats than the
minimum standards require.
• Renovations and Alterations. All renovations and alterations must
meet accessibility standards unless to do so is technically infeasible.
In that case, they must comply to the maximum extent feasible. If an
organization renovates or alters an area in such a way that it affects the
"A cultural institution and its constituents benefit when farsighted board
members and administrators look beyond minimum standards to broaden
the potential for usability of space and facilities for all potential staff,
constituents, visitors and audiences."
Jonathan Katz, Chief Executive Officer, National Assembly of State
26 Chapter 2
usability of a primary function area, such as the auditorium of a lecture
hall or the exhibit space of a museum, then the organization must make
the path of travel to that area accessible. For example, if a concert or
lecture hall is renovated, the organization must provide an accessible
path of travel from the exterior to the altered area, and make the
restrooms, telephones and drinking fountains serving the altered area
accessible, unless the cost of these modifications are disproportionate
to the overall cost of the alterations.
• Barrier removal. The federal standards for barrier removal in existing
facilities are somewhat more flexible. Section 504 and Title II require
modifications only if necessary to ensure program access. However, all
organizations (public or private) must complete readily achievable barrier
removal if a program cannot be made accessible by any other means.
Barrier removal might include ramping to an entrance, relocating displays
or exhibits to widen an aisle, installing a levered doorknob or moving a
plant out of the path of travel.
Accessibility requirements provide independent, dignified access to all
aspects of a facility including, but not limited to, parking, entrances,
exhibits, programs, classes, performances, work areas, restrooms,
elevators, shops and food services. Regardless of any law or regulation
with which a cultural organization must comply, the organization facing
new construction, alterations or renovations should insist upon the
diligent application of accessibility concepts in design and execution.
Cultural organizations are encouraged to go beyond the minimum
accessibility standards to provide greater levels of accessibility.
Best Practice: Budget for accessibility. Generally, expenses fall into
two categories: capital costs for new construction, alterations, renovations
and removing architectural barriers, and program or operating costs for
providing effective communication and auxiliary aids. Anticipate ongoing
expenses for capital improvements, and for program costs to continue
effective communication and to replenish auxiliary aids. The NEA and the
NEH encourage applicants to include in their budget costs for access
and accommodations related to the project (i.e. sign interpreters, audio
descriptions and captioning).
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"Accessibility does not have to be expensive. Experience has
repeatedly shown that accommodations designed to serve people with
disabilities generally improve the quality of programs for the broader
public. In short, museums cannot afford not to make their programs
accessible to all visitors."
Janice Majewski, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 27
Best Practice: Hire qualified, knowledgeable professionals. Not
all architects, designers, contractors and lawyers are familiar with
accessibility requirements. Examine the work of these professionals
before making commitments, and ask for references from persons in the
disability rights community. Further, work with your advisory committee
and/or a local independent living center to review plans and work as the
4. Review and modify policies, procedures and practices
to prevent discrimination.
Cultural organizations must make reasonable modifications to policies,
procedures and practices that deny equal access to individuals with
disabilities unless the changes would result in a fundamental alteration
in the program or the nature of the goods and services. An overarching
institutional policy that makes a commitment to universal accessibility is
an excellent start.
Cultural organizations should carefully examine all policies, procedures and
practices with members of the disability community along with staff and
board members to determine if they provide equal access or inadvertently
discriminate against people with disabilities. This is essential to making
programs and facilities accessible. Policies, procedures and practices
include a wide range of activities:
• Policies include eligibility criteria, employment guidelines, admission
and ticketing rules, and fee structures.
• Procedures are the planned actions by which policies are implemented.
• Practices are the routine ways in which policies and procedures are
carried out on a day-to-day basis.
Consider a small museum operating in a historic property. In order to
make the museum accessible and preserve the historic nature of the
building, the advisory committee has recommended installing a ramp
to a side entrance. In the past, the policy has been to keep all doors
except the front door locked.
Their new policy states, "Whenever the front door is unlocked, the side
entrance must also be unlocked." The new procedure requires maintenance
staff to lock and unlock the side entrance at the same time they lock and
unlock the front door. In addition, appropriate signage is placed at the
inaccessible front entrance directing people to the accessible side entrance
and both entrances are open to the general public. In practice, if staff
members fail to unlock the side entrance, the museum is not providing
equal access because everyone should be able to enter without waiting.
28 Chapter 2
Organizations must not charge additional fees or require persons with
disabilities to pay for costs incurred for ADA or Section 504 compliance.
This does not mean that people with disabilities must be admitted free if
others pay an admission charge. It does mean that if someone requires
braille or other accommodations because of a disability, the organization
cannot charge extra to provide it. For example, a theater may not charge
for the use of assistive listening devices nor may a state arts agency charge
to provide a sign language interpreter for a public meeting. These expenses
should be considered as overhead and budgeted in advance.
Best Practice: Plan for accessibility. Working with your access advisory
committee, identify the organization's accessibility assets by carefully
evaluating four areas: nondiscrimination obligations (including policies,
practices and procedures), facility and program accessibility,
communications and employment. Then, develop strategies, plans and
timelines for addressing strengths and weaknesses. Organizations should
be prepared to respond to requests for effective communication such as
captioning, sign language interpretation, braille or large print materials as
well as other requests for accommodations. Implementing access does
not have to be difficult or expensive. It can be a creative, engaging and
instructive process in which the organization's entire staff participates.
Best Practice: Address every issue and policy with the question, "Does
this provide equal access for everyone?" Equal access means making
programs and services as close as possible to being the same for everyone,
and that access is functional, safe, convenient and dignified. Access means
entering through the primary entrance of a facility, being able to work, to
use a facility and to participate fully in programs and activities.
Best Practice: Educate and train board members, staff, volunteers,
panelists and grantees. Conduct regular training concerning access
issues for everyone including board members, staff and constituents
(including subgrantees). Your access advisory committee should be
involved in planning and conducting the training. Ensure that everyone
understands all accessibility accommodations and can properly apply
all policies, practices and procedures. Staff should treat everyone,
"Access is what state arts agencies are all about. We work to develop
new audiences, create ways to capture the attention of our young
people and support programs that enhance the participation of our
state's citizens in the arts. Issues surrounding Section 504, the
Americans with Disabilities Act, and access should be at the top of
all of our lists. It just makes sense."
Robert C. Booker, Executive Director, Minnesota State Arts Board
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 29
colleagues and visitors alike, with the same dignity and respect that they
would wish to be accorded. A thoughtful, courteous attitude indicates
that the organization is acting in good faith to meet the needs of people
Best Practice: Establish an institutional memory on disability issues
and compliance efforts. By tracking what it has done (both good and bad),
the organization can avoid costs by not having to "reinvent the wheel"
every time a situation arises — whether it is access to a new program,
construction/renovation of the facility or employment-related. The
accessibility coordinator, the human resources office, the facilities
office or the executive director's office might serve as the institutional
Best Practice: Emulate the successful practices of others. Network with
other professionals and cultural administrators, find out what
works and does not work, and keep abreast of access innovations
and accessibility practices. It is perfectly acceptable for cultural entities
to incorporate other organizations' successful practices, giving credit
where credit is due.
Best Practice: Review accessibility efforts at regular intervals.
Routinely review, assess and update the organization's accessibility
plans, programs, policies and practices, in cooperation with the access
advisory committee, at regular intervals. Frequent reviews will not only
assist the organization in completing its goals, but also will provide a
mechanism for revising and updating plans to incorporate fresh ideas,
new technologies and other improvements as the organization evolves.
5. Provide individuals with equal employment
The employment requirements of the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA are
similar. These laws mandate that recipients of federal financial assistance,
places of public accommodation, and state and local governments judge
applicants solely on the basis of their qualifications.
The ADA'S Title I employment provisions apply to private employers, state
and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions with 15
or more employees. Title I and Section 504 require employers to provide
qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from
the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others. For
example, the laws prohibit discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions,
training, pay and social activities; restrict questions about an applicant's
disability before a job offer is made; and require that employers make
30 Chapter 2
reasonable accommodations for the known physical or mental limitations of
otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless doing so results in
undue hardship to the employer.
Nondiscriminatory employment procedures include making recruitment
and job applications accessible. For example, a person who is blind or
has low vision may benefit from large print or braille applications, or
accessible online applications, and applicants who are deaf or hard of
hearing should be offered a sign language interpreter for interviews (if
requested in advance). An organization should advertise job openings in
multiple media, such as the Internet, radio and print. Employers with job
hotlines for applicants must make the hotline accessible to people who
are deaf or hard-of-hearing, or provide alternative methods of receiving
information. Employers are also required to post notices to all employees
advising them of their rights under the ADA and Section 504. Such notices
must be accessible to persons with visual or other disabilities that affect
Best Practice: Review all personnel policies for compliance with
nondiscrimination laws. The organization should adopt appropriate
disability-related policies and monitor their application annually as it
would all other employment practices. Policies should include, but not
be limited to, reviewing position descriptions to ensure they are current,
accurate and do not exclude or screen out persons with disabilities;
making sure application forms and interviewers do not ask, directly
or indirectly, about a disability; establishing a policy on reasonable
accommodation; reviewing health insurance and benefit plans to make
sure they do not discriminate; keeping medical information confidential;
and having physical examinations be job related, consistent with
Grievance procedures are internal procedures for the resolution of
differences between an organization and its staff or users with disabilities.
A person with a disability is defined by the ADA and Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act as someone who has a physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a
history or record of such impairment, or a person who is regarded as having
such an impairment. Neither the Rehabilitation Act nor the ADA specifically
names all of the impairments that are covered.
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 31
Private entities that operate public accommodations include restaurants,
hotels, theaters, convention centers, retail stores, museums, performing arts
centers, libraries, parks, zoos, amusement parks and private schools. They
are covered under Title III of the ADA.
Public entities include any state or local government and any of its
departments, agencies or other instrumentalities. They are covered under
Title II of the ADA.
Public notice is the dissemination of sufficient information to applicants,
grantees, participants, beneficiaries, and other interested persons to inform
them of the rights and protections afforded by Section 504 and the ADA.
Methods of providing public notice include announcements in handbooks,
manuals, pamphlets, newsletters, Web sites and application materials.
A qualified person with a disability is someone who meets the
definition of a person with a disability and meets the legitimate skill,
experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position
that they hold or seek and who can perform the essential functions of the
position with or without reasonable accommodation. A qualified person
with a disability in a non-employment context is someone who meets the
definition of a person with a disability and meets the essential eligibility
requirements for a program, activity, service or benefit offered by a public
Readily achievable means easily accomplishable and able to be carried
out without much difficulty or expense. What is readily achievable or
constitutes a difficulty or expense is determined on a case-by-case basis
in light of the resources available. The case-by-case approach takes into
account the diversity of enterprises covered by ADA Titles I, II and III and
Section 504, as well as the wide variation in the economic health of
particular entities at any given moment.
Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to
the work environment that will enable a qualified person with a disability
to participate in the job application process or to perform essential job
functions. In the program setting, a reasonable accommodation may
include a reasonable modification to a policy, practice or procedure,
provision of an auxiliary aid or service to ensure effective communication,
or, under Title III, readily achievable barrier removal.
Self-evaluation is the process of evaluating all policies, practices and
programs of an organization to ensure equal access and availability to
32 Chapter 2
Undue burden is the standard applied in non-employment situations under
Titles II and III of the ADA. The definition of undue burden is the same as
the definition of undue hardship, the standard applied in employment
situations under Title I of the ADA and Section 504.
Undue hardship is defined as an action requiring significant difficulty or
expense when considered in light of a number of factors. These factors include
the nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size, resources,
nature and structure of the employer's operation. Undue hardship is
determined on a case-by-case basis. In general, larger employers with greater
resources would be expected to make accommodations requiring greater
effort or expense than would be required of smaller employers with fewer
resources. This is the standard under Title I of the ADA and Section 504.
Americans with Disabilities Act
Questions and Answers
The following are frequently asked questions and answers about the
Americans with Disabilities Act from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and can
be found at: www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/qandaeng.htm
Q. What employers are covered by title I of the ADA, and when is the
A. The title I employment provisions apply to private employers, State and
local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions. Employers with
25 or more employees were covered as of July 26, 1992. Employers with 15
or more employees were covered two years later, beginning July 26, 1994.
Q. What practices and activities are covered by the employment
A. The ADA prohibits discrimination in all employment practices, including
job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation,
training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. It
applies to recruitment, advertising, tenure, layoff, leave, fringe benefits,
and all other employment-related activities.
Q. Who is protected from employment discrimination?
A. Employment discrimination is prohibited against "qualified individuals
with disabilities." This includes applicants for employment and employees.
An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or
mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,
has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 33
impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known
association or relationship with an individual with a disability also
The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons
who have impairments and that these must substantially limit major life
activities such as seeing, hearing, speaking, walking, breathing, performing
manual tasks, learning, caring for oneself, and working. An individual with
epilepsy, paralysis, HIV infection, AIDS, a substantial hearing or visual
impairment, mental retardation, or a specific learning disability is covered,
but an individual with a minor, nonchronic condition of short duration, such
as a sprain, broken limb, or the flu, generally would not be covered.
The second part of the definition protecting individuals with a record of
a disability would cover, for example, a person who has recovered from
cancer or mental illness.
The third part of the definition protects individuals who are regarded
as having a substantially limiting impairment, even though they may not
have such an impairment. For example, this provision would protect a
qualified individual with a severe facial disfigurement from being denied
employment because an employer feared the "negative reactions" of
customers or co-workers.
Q. Who is a "qualified individual with a disability?"
A. A qualified individual with a disability is a person who meets legitimate
skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment
position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the "essential
functions" of the position with or without reasonable accommodation.
Requiring the ability to perform "essential" functions assures that an
individual with a disability will not be considered unqualified simply because
of inability to perform marginal or incidental job functions. If the individual
is qualified to perform essential job functions except for limitations caused
by a disability, the employer must consider whether the individual could
perform these functions with a reasonable accommodation. If a written job
description has been prepared in advance of advertising or interviewing
applicants for a job, this will be considered as evidence, although not
conclusive evidence, of the essential functions of the job.
Q. Does an employer have to give preference to a qualified applicant with
a disability over other applicants?
A. No. An employer is free to select the most qualified applicant available
and to make decisions based on reasons unrelated to a disability. For
example, suppose two persons apply for a job as a typist and an essential
function of the job is to type 75 words per minute accurately. One applicant,
34 Chapter 2
an individual with a disability, who is provided with a reasonable
accommodation for a typing test, types 50 words per minute; the other
applicant who has no disability accurately types 75 words per minute.
The employer can hire the applicant with the higher typing speed, if typing
speed is needed for successful performance of the job.
Q. What limitations does the ADA impose on medical examinations and
inquiries about disability?
A. An employer may not ask or require a job applicant to take a medical
examination before making a job offer. It cannot make any pre-employment
inquiry about a disability or the nature or severity of a disability. An employer
may, however, ask questions about the ability to perform specific job functions
and may, with certain limitations, ask an individual with a disability to describe
or demonstrate how s/he would perform these functions.
An employer may condition a job offer on the satisfactory result of a post-
offer medical examination or medical inquiry if this is required of all entering
employees in the same job category. A post-offer examination or inquiry
does not have to be job-related and consistent with business necessity.
However, if an individual is not hired because a post-offer medical
examination or inquiry reveals a disability, the reason(s) for not hiring must
be job-related and consistent with business necessity. The employer also
must show that no reasonable accommodation was available that would
enable the individual to perform the essential job functions, or that
accommodation would impose an undue hardship. A post-offer medical
examination may disqualify an individual if the employer can demonstrate
that the individual would pose a "direct threat" in the workplace (i.e., a
significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety of the individual or
others) that cannot be eliminated or reduced below the "direct threat" level
through reasonable accommodation. Such a disqualification is job-related
and consistent with business necessity. A post-offer medical examination
may not disqualify an individual with a disability who is currently able to
perform essential job functions because of speculation that the disability
may cause a risk of future injury.
After a person starts work, a medical examination or inquiry of an employee
must be job-related and consistent with business necessity. Employers may
conduct employee medical examinations where there is evidence of a job
performance or safety problem, examinations required by other Federal
laws, examinations to determine current "fitness" to perform a particular job,
and voluntary examinations that are part of employee health programs.
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 35
Information from all medical examinations and inquiries must be kept apart
from general personnel files as a separate, confidential medical record,
available only under limited conditions.
Tests for illegal use of drugs are not medical examinations under the ADA
and are not subject to the restrictions of such examinations.
Q. When can an employer ask an applicant to "self-identify" as having a
A. Federal contractors and subcontractors who are covered by the
affirmative action requirements of section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of
1973 may invite individuals with disabilities to identify themselves on a job
application form or by other pre-employment inquiry, to satisfy the section
503 affirmative action requirements. Employers who request such
information must observe section 503 requirements regarding the manner
in which such information is requested and used, and the procedures for
maintaining such information as a separate, confidential record, apart
from regular personnel records.
A pre-employment inquiry about a disability is allowed if required by another
Federal law or regulation such as those applicable to disabled veterans and
veterans of the Vietnam era. Pre-employment inquiries about disabilities
may be necessary under such laws to identify applicants or clients with
disabilities in order to provide them with required special services.
Q. Does the ADA require employers to develop written job descriptions?
A. No. The ADA does not require employers to develop or maintain job
descriptions. However, a written job description that is prepared before
advertising or interviewing applicants for a job will be considered as
evidence along with other relevant factors. If an employer uses job
descriptions, they should be reviewed to make sure they accurately reflect
the actual functions of a job. A job description will be most helpful if it
focuses on the results or outcome of a job function, not solely on the way
it customarily is performed. A reasonable accommodation may enable a
person with a disability to accomplish a job function in a manner that is
different from the way an employee who is not disabled may accomplish
the same function.
Q. What is "reasonable accommodation?"
A. Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or
the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with
a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential
job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to
assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges
in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities.
36 Chapter 2
Q. What are some of the accommodations applicants and employees
A. Examples of reasonable accommodation include making existing facilities
used by employees readily accessible to and usable by an individual with
a disability; restructuring a job; modifying work schedules; acquiring or
modifying equipment; providing qualified readers or interpreters; or
appropriately modifying examinations, training, or other programs.
Reasonable accommodation also may include reassigning a current
employee to a vacant position for which the individual is qualified, if the
person is unable to do the original job because of a disability even with an
accommodation. However, there is no obligation to find a position for an
applicant who is not qualified for the position sought. Employers are not
required to lower quality or quantity standards as an accommodation; nor are
they obligated to provide personal use items such as glasses or hearing aids.
The decision as to the appropriate accommodation must be based on the
particular facts of each case. In selecting the particular type of reasonable
accommodation to provide, the principal test is that of effectiveness, i.e.,
whether the accommodation will provide an opportunity for a person with
a disability to achieve the same level of performance and to enjoy benefits
equal to those of an average, similarly situated person without a disability.
However, the accommodation does not have to ensure equal results or
provide exactly the same benefits.
Q. When is an employer required to make a reasonable accommodation?
A. An employer is only required to accommodate a "known" disability of a
qualified applicant or employee. The requirement generally will be triggered
by a request from an individual with a disability, who frequently will be able
to suggest an appropriate accommodation. Accommodations must be
made on an individual basis, because the nature and extent of a disabling
condition and the requirements of a job will vary in each case. If the
individual does not request an accommodation, the employer is not
obligated to provide one except where an individual's known disability
impairs his/her ability to know of, or effectively communicate a need for, an
accommodation that is obvious to the employer. If a person with a disability
requests, but cannot suggest, an appropriate accommodation, the employer
and the individual should work together to identify one. There are also many
public and private resources that can provide assistance without cost.
Q. What are the limitations on the obligation to make a reasonable
A. The individual with a disability requiring the accommodation must be
otherwise qualified, and the disability must be known to the employer. In
addition, an employer is not required to make an accommodation if it would
impose an "undue hardship" on the operation of the employer's business.
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 37
"Undue hardship" is defined as an "action requiring significant difficulty or
expense" when considered in light of a number of factors. These factors
include the nature and cost of the accommodation in relation to the size,
resources, nature, and structure of the employer's operation. Undue
hardship is determined on a case-by-case basis. Where the facility making
the accommodation is part of a larger entity, the structure and overall
resources of the larger organization would be considered, as well as
the financial and administrative relationship of the facility to the larger
organization. In general, a larger employer with greater resources would
be expected to make accommodations requiring greater effort or expense
than would be required of a smaller employer with fewer resources.
If a particular accommodation would be an undue hardship, the employer
must try to identify another accommodation that will not pose such a
hardship. Also, if the cost of an accommodation would impose an undue
hardship on the employer, the individual with a disability should be given
the option of paying that portion of the cost which would constitute an
undue hardship or providing the accommodation.
Q. Must an employer modify existing facilities to make them accessible?
A. The employer's obligation under title I is to provide access for an
individual applicant to participate in the job application process, and for
an individual employee with a disability to perform the essential functions
of his/her job, including access to a building, to the work site, to needed
equipment, and to all facilities used by employees. For example, if an
employee lounge is located in a place inaccessible to an employee using
a wheelchair, the lounge might be modified or relocated, or comparable
facilities might be provided in a location that would enable the individual
to take a break with co-workers. The employer must provide such access
unless it would cause an undue hardship.
Under title I, an employer is not required to make its existing facilities
accessible until a particular applicant or employee with a particular
disability needs an accommodation, and then the modifications should
meet that individual's work needs. However, employers should consider
initiating changes that will provide general accessibility, particularly for
job applicants, since it is likely that people with disabilities will be applying
for jobs. The employer does not have to make changes to provide access
in places or facilities that will not be used by that individual for employment-
related activities or benefits.
Q. Can an employer be required to reallocate an essential function of
a job to another employee as a reasonable accommodation?
A. No. An employer is not required to reallocate essential functions of a
job as a reasonable accommodation.
Q. Can an employer be required to modify, adjust, or make other reasonable
accommodations in the way a test is given to a qualified applicant or
employee with a disability?
A. Yes. Accommodations may be needed to assure that tests or
examinations measure the actual ability of an individual to perform job
functions rather than reflect limitations caused by the disability. Tests should
be given to people who have sensory, speaking, or manual impairments in
a format that does not require the use of the impaired skill, unless it is a
job-related skill that the test is designed to measure.
Q. Can an employer maintain existing production/performance standards for
an employee with a disability?
A. An employer can hold employees with disabilities to the same standards
of production/performance as other similarly situated employees without
disabilities for performing essential job functions, with or without reasonable
accommodation. An employer also can hold employees with disabilities to
the same standards of production/performance as other employees
regarding marginal functions unless the disability affects the person's
ability to perform those marginal functions. If the ability to perform marginal
functions is affected by the disability, the employer must provide some
type of reasonable accommodation such as job restructuring but may not
exclude an individual with a disability who is satisfactorily performing a jobs
Q. Can an employer establish specific attendance and leave policies?
A. An employer can establish attendance and leave policies that are
uniformly applied to all employees, regardless of disability, but may not
refuse leave needed by an employee with a disability if other employees
get such leave. An employer also may be required to make adjustments in
leave policy as a reasonable accommodation. The employer is not obligated
to provide additional paid leave, but accommodations may include leave
flexibility and unpaid leave.
A uniformly applied leave policy does not violate the ADA because it has
a more severe effect on an individual because of his/her disability. However,
if an individual with a disability requests a modification of such a policy as
a reasonable accommodation, an employer may be required to provide it,
unless it would impose an undue hardship.
Q. Can an employer consider health and safety when deciding whether to
hire an applicant or retain an employee with a disability?
A. Yes. The ADA permits employers to establish qualification standards that
will exclude individuals who pose a direct threat — i.e., a significant risk of
substantial harm — to the health or safety of the individual or of others, if that
risk cannot be eliminated or reduced below the level of a "direct threat" by
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 39
reasonable accommodation. However, an employer may not simply assume
that a threat exists; the employer must establish through objective, medically
supportable methods that there is significant risk that substantial harm could
occur in the workplace. By requiring employers to make individualized
judgments based on reliable medical or other objective evidence rather than
on generalizations, ignorance, fear, patronizing attitudes, or stereotypes, the
ADA recognizes the need to balance the interests of people with disabilities
against the legitimate interests of employers in maintaining a safe
Q. Are applicants or employees who are currently illegally using drugs
covered by the ADA?
A. No. Individuals who currently engage in the illegal use of drugs are
specifically excluded from the definition of a "qualified individual with a
disability" protected by the ADA when the employer takes action on the
basis of their drug use.
Q. Is testing for the illegal use of drugs permissible under the ADA?
A. Yes. A test for the illegal use of drugs is not considered a medical
examination under the ADA; therefore, employers may conduct such testing
of applicants or employees and make employment decisions based on the
results. The ADA does not encourage, prohibit, or authorize drug tests.
If the results of a drug test reveal the presence of a lawfully prescribed
drug or other medical information, such information must be treated as
a confidential medical record.
Q. Are alcoholics covered by the ADA?
A. Yes. While a current illegal user of drugs is not protected by the ADA
if an employer acts on the basis of such use, a person who currently uses
alcohol is not automatically denied protection. An alcoholic is a person with
a disability and is protected by the ADA if s/he is qualified to perform the
essential functions of the job. An employer may be required to provide
an accommodation to an alcoholic. However, an employer can discipline,
discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol
adversely affects job performance or conduct. An employer also may
prohibit the use of alcohol in the workplace and can require that employees
not be under the influence of alcohol.
Q. Does the ADA override Federal and State health and safety laws?
A. The ADA does not override health and safety requirements established
under other Federal laws even if a standard adversely affects the
employment of an individual with a disability. If a standard is required by
another Federal law, an employer must comply with it and does not have to
show that the standard is job related and consistent with business necessity.
40 Chapter 2
For example, employers must conform to health and safety requirements
of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. However, an
employer still has the obligation under the ADA to consider whether there
is a reasonable accommodation, consistent with the standards of other
Federal laws, that will prevent exclusion of qualified individuals with
disabilities who can perform jobs without violating the standards of those
laws. If an employer can comply with both the ADA and another Federal
law, then the employer must do so.
The ADA does not override State or local laws designed to protect public
health and safety, except where such laws conflict with the ADA
requirements. If there is a State or local law that would exclude an individual
with a disability from a particular job or profession because of a health or
safety risk, the employer still must assess whether a particular individual
would pose a "direct threat" to health or safety under the ADA standard.
If such a "direct threat" exists, the employer must consider whether it could
be eliminated or reduced below the level of a "direct threat" by reasonable
accommodation. An employer cannot rely on a State or local law that
conflicts with ADA requirements as a defense to a charge of discrimination.
Q. How does the ADA affect workers' compensation programs?
A. Only injured workers who meet the ADA's definition of an "individual
with a disability" will be considered disabled under the ADA, regardless
of whether they satisfy criteria for receiving benefits under workers'
compensation or other disability laws. A worker also must be "qualified"
(with or without reasonable accommodation) to be protected by the ADA.
Work-related injuries do not always cause physical or mental impairments
severe enough to "substantially limit" a major life activity. Also, many on-the-
job injuries cause temporary impairments which heal within a short period
of time with little or no long-term or permanent impact. Therefore, many
injured workers who qualify for benefits under workers' compensation or
other disability benefits laws may not be protected by the ADA. An employer
must consider work-related injuries on a case-by-case basis to know if a
worker is protected by the ADA.
An employer may not inquire into an applicant's workers' compensation
history before making a conditional offer of employment. After making a
conditional job offer, an employer may inquire about a person's workers
compensation history in a medical inquiry or examination that is required
of all applicants in the same job category. However, even after a conditional
offer has been made, an employer cannot require a potential employee to
have a medical examination because a response to a medical inquiry (as
opposed to results from a medical examination) shows a previous on-the-job
injury unless all applicants in the same job category are required to have an
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 41
examination. Also, an employer may not base an employment decision
on the speculation that an applicant may cause increased workers'
compensation costs in the future. However, an employer may refuse to hire,
or may discharge an individual who is not currently able to perform a job
without posing a significant risk of substantial harm to the health or safety
of the individual or others, if the risk cannot be eliminated or reduced by
An employer may refuse to hire or may fire a person who knowingly provides
a false answer to a lawful post-offer inquiry about his/her condition or
worker's compensation history.
An employer also may submit medical information and records concerning
employees and applicants (obtained after a conditional job offer) to state
workers' compensation offices and "second injury" funds without violating
ADA confidentiality requirements.
Q. What is discrimination based on "relationship or association" under
A. The ADA prohibits discrimination based on relationship or association in
order to protect individuals from actions based on unfounded assumptions
that their relationship to a person with a disability would affect their job
performance, and from actions caused by bias or misinformation concerning
certain disabilities. For example, this provision would protect a person
whose spouse has a disability from being denied employment because
of an employer's unfounded assumption that the applicant would use
excessive leave to care for the spouse. It also would protect an individual
who does volunteer work for people with AIDS from a discriminatory
employment action motivated by that relationship or association.
Q. How are the employment provisions enforced?
A. The employment provisions of the ADA are enforced under the same
procedures now applicable to race, color, sex, national origin, and religious
discrimination under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended,
and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. Complaints regarding actions that occurred
on or after July 26, 1992, may be filed with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission or designated State human rights agencies.
Available remedies will include hiring, reinstatement, promotion, back pay,
front pay, restored benefits, reasonable accommodation, attorneys' fees,
expert witness fees, and court costs. Compensatory and punitive damages
also may be available in cases of intentional discrimination or where an
employer fails to make a good faith effort to provide a reasonable
42 Chapter 2
Q. What financial assistance is available to employers to help them make
reasonable accommodations and comply with the ADA?
A. A special tax credit is available to help smaller employers make
accommodations required by the ADA. An eligible small business may take
a tax credit of up to $5,000 per year for accommodations made to comply
with the ADA. The credit is available for one-half the cost of "eligible access
expenditures" that are more than $250 but less than $10,250.
A full tax deduction, up to $15,000 per year, also is available to any
business for expenses of removing qualified architectural or transportation
barriers. Expenses covered include costs of removing barriers created by
steps, narrow doors, inaccessible parking spaces, restroom facilities, and
transportation vehicles. Additional information discussing the tax credits and
deductions is contained in the Department of Justice's ADA Tax Incentive
Packet for Businesses available from the ADA Information Line. Information
about the tax credit and tax deduction can also be obtained from a local
IRS office, or by contacting the Office of Chief Counsel, Internal
Q. What are an employer's record keeping requirements under the
employment provisions of the ADA?
A. An employer must maintain records such as application forms submitted
by applicants and other records related to hiring, requests for reasonable
accommodation, promotion, demotion, transfer, lay-off or termination, rates
of pay or other terms of compensation, and selection for training or
apprenticeship for one year after making the record or taking the action
described (whichever occurs later). If a charge of discrimination is filed or
an action is brought by EEOC, an employer must save all personnel records
related to the charge until final disposition of the charge.
Q. Does the ADA require that an employer post a notice explaining
A. The ADA requires that employers post a notice describing the provisions
of the ADA. It must be made accessible, as needed, to individuals with
disabilities. A poster is available from EEOC summarizing the requirements
of the ADA and other Federal legal requirements for nondiscrimination for
which EEOC has enforcement responsibility. EEOC also provides guidance
on making this information available in accessible formats for people with
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 43
Q. What resources does the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
have available to help employers and people with disabilities understand and
comply with the employment requirements of the ADA?
A. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has developed several
resources to help employers and people with disabilities understand and
comply with the employment provisions of the ADA. Resources include:
a technical assistance manual that provides "how-to" guidance on the
employment provisions of the ADA as well as a resource directory to help
individuals find specific information, and a variety of brochures, booklets,
and fact sheets.
State and Local Governments
Q. Does the ADA apply to State and local governments?
A. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals
with disabilities in all programs, activities, and services of public entities. It
applies to all State and local governments, their departments and agencies,
and any other instrumentalities or special purpose districts of State or local
governments. It clarifies the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973 for public transportation systems that receive Federal financial
assistance, and extends coverage to all public entities that provide public
transportation, whether or not they receive Federal financial assistance. It
establishes detailed standards for the operation of public transit systems,
including commuter and intercity rail (AMTRAK).
Q. When do the requirements for State and local governments
A. In general, they became effective on January 26, 1992.
Q. How does title II affect participation in a State or local government's
programs, activities, and services?
A. A state or local government must eliminate any eligibility criteria for
participation in programs, activities, and services that screen out or tend
to screen out persons with disabilities, unless it can establish that the
requirements are necessary for the provision of the service, program, or
activity. The State or local government may, however, adopt legitimate safety
requirements necessary for safe operation if they are based on real risks,
not on stereotypes or generalizations about individuals with disabilities.
Finally, a public entity must reasonably modify its policies, practices, or
procedures to avoid discrimination. If the public entity can demonstrate that
a particular modification would fundamentally alter the nature of its service,
program, or activity, it is not required to make that modification.
Q. Does title II cover a public entity's employment policies and practices?
A. Yes. Title II prohibits all public entities, regardless of the size of their work
force, from discriminating in employment against qualified individuals with
disabilities. In addition to title II 's employment coverage, title I of the ADA
and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit employment
discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities by certain
Q. What changes must a public entity make to its existing facilities to make
A. A public entity must ensure that individuals with disabilities are not
excluded from services, programs, and activities because existing buildings
are inaccessible. A State or local government's programs, when viewed in
their entirety, must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with
disabilities. This standard, known as "program accessibility," applies to
facilities of a public entity that existed on January 26, 1992. Public entities
do not necessarily have to make each of their existing facilities accessible.
They may provide program accessibility by a number of methods including
alteration of existing facilities, acquisition or construction of additional
facilities, relocation of a service or program to an accessible facility, or
provision of services at alternate accessible sites.
Q. When must structural changes be made to attain program accessibility?
A. Structural changes needed for program accessibility must be made as
expeditiously as possible, and should have been made by January 26, 1995.
This three-year time period is not a grace period; all alterations must be
accomplished as expeditiously as possible. A public entity that employs 50
or more persons must have developed a transition plan by July 26, 1992,
setting forth the steps necessary to complete such changes.
Q. What is a self-evaluation?
A. A self-evaluation is a public entity's assessment of its current policies
and practices. The self-evaluation identifies and corrects those policies and
practices that are inconsistent with title ll's requirements. All public entities
should have completed a self-evaluation by January 26, 1993. A public entity
that employs 50 or more employees must retain its self-evaluation for three
years. Other public entities are not required to retain their self-evaluations,
but are encouraged to do so because these documents evidence a public
entity's good faith efforts to comply with title ll's requirements.
Q. What does title II require for new construction and alterations?
A. The ADA requires that all new buildings constructed by a State or local
government be accessible. In addition, when a State or local government
undertakes alterations to a building, it must make the altered portions
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 45
Q. How will a State or local government know that a new building
A. A State or local government will be in compliance with the ADA for new
construction and alterations if it follows either of two accessibility standards.
It can choose either the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards or the
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and
Facilities, which is the standard that must be used for public
accommodations and commercial facilities under title III of the ADA. If the
State or local government chooses the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, it is
not entitled to the elevator exemption (which permits certain private
buildings under three stories or under 3,000 square feet per floor to be
constructed without an elevator).
Q. What requirements apply to a public entity's emergency telephone
services, such as 911?
A. State and local agencies that provide emergency telephone services
must provide "direct access" to individuals who rely on a TDD or computer
modem for telephone communication. Telephone access through a third
party or through a relay service does not satisfy the requirement for direct
access. Where a public entity provides 91 1 telephone service, it may not
substitute a separate seven-digit telephone line as the sole means for
access to 91 1 services by nonvoice users. A public entity may, however,
provide a separate seven-digit line for the exclusive use of nonvoice callers
in addition to providing direct access for such calls to its 91 1 line.
Q. Does title II require that telephone emergency service systems be
compatible with all formats used for nonvoice communications?
A. No. At present, telephone emergency services must only be
compatible with the Baudot format. Until it can be technically proven
that communications in another format can operate in a reliable and
compatible manner in a given telephone emergency environment, a
public entity would not be required to provide direct access to computer
modems using formats other than Baudot.
Q. How will the ADA's requirements for State and local governments
A. Private individuals may bring lawsuits to enforce their rights under title II
and may receive the same remedies as those provided under section 504
of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, including reasonable attorney's fees.
Individuals may also file complaints with eight designated Federal agencies,
including the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation.
46 Chapter 2
Q. What are public accommodations?
A. A public accommodation is a private entity that owns, operates, leases,
or leases to, a place of public accommodation. Places of public
accommodation include a wide range of entities, such as restaurants,
hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums,
libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers. Private clubs and
religious organizations are exempt from the ADA'S title III requirements for
Q. Will the ADA have any effect on the eligibility criteria used by public
accommodations to determine who may receive services?
A. Yes. If a criterion screens out or tends to screen out individuals with
disabilities, it may only be used if necessary for the provision of the services.
For instance, it would be a violation for a retail store to have a rule excluding
all deaf persons from entering the premises, or for a movie theater to exclude
all individuals with cerebral palsy. More subtle forms of discrimination are
also prohibited. For example, requiring presentation of a driver's license as
the sole acceptable means of identification for purposes of paying by check
could constitute discrimination against individuals with vision impairments.
This would be true if such individuals are ineligible to receive licenses and
the use of an alternative means of identification is feasible.
Q. Does the ADA allow public accommodations to take safety factors
into consideration in providing services to individuals with disabilities?
A. The ADA expressly provides that a public accommodation may exclude
an individual, if that individual poses a direct threat to the health or safety
of others that cannot be mitigated by appropriate modifications in the public
accommodation's policies or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary
aids. A public accommodation will be permitted to establish objective safety
criteria for the operation of its business; however, any safety standard
must be based on objective requirements rather than stereotypes or
generalizations about the ability of persons with disabilities to participate
in an activity.
Q. Are there any limits on the kinds of modifications in policies, practices,
and procedures required by the ADA?
A. Yes. The ADA does not require modifications that would fundamentally
alter the nature of the services provided by the public accommodation. For
example, it would not be discriminatory for a physician specialist who treats
only burn patients to refer a deaf individual to another physician for
treatment of a broken limb or respiratory ailment. To require a physician to
accept patients outside of his or her specialty would fundamentally alter the
nature of the medical practice.
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 47
Q. What kinds of auxiliary aids and services are required by the ADA to
ensure effective communication with individuals with hearing or vision
A. Appropriate auxiliary aids and services may include services and devices
such as qualified interpreters, assistive listening devices, notetakers, and
written materials for individuals with hearing impairments; and qualified
readers, taped texts, and Brailled or large print materials for individuals with
Q. Are there any limitations on the ADA's auxiliary aids requirements?
A. Yes. The ADA does not require the provision of any auxiliary aid that
would result in an undue burden or in a fundamental alteration in the nature
of the goods or services provided by a public accommodation. However, the
public accommodation is not relieved from the duty to furnish an alternative
auxiliary aid, if available, that would not result in a fundamental alteration or
undue burden. Both of these limitations are derived from existing regulations
and case law under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and are to be
determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q. Will restaurants be required to have brailled menus?
A. No, not if waiters or other employees are made available to read the
menu to a blind customer.
Q. Will a clothing store be required to have brailled price tags?
A. No, not if sales personnel could provide price information orally
Q. Will a bookstore be required to maintain a sign language interpreter on
its staff in order to communicate with deaf customers?
A. No, not if employees communicate by pen and notepad when necessary.
Q. Are there any limitations on the ADA's barrier removal requirements
for existing facilities?
A. Yes. Barrier removal need be accomplished only when it is "readily
achievable" to do so.
Q. What does the term "readily achievable" mean?
A. It means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without
much difficulty or expense."
Q. What are examples of the types of modifications that would be readily
achievable in most cases?
A. Examples include the simple ramping of a few steps, the installation of
grab bars where only routine reinforcement of the wall is required, the
lowering of telephones, and similar modest adjustments.
48 Chapter 2
Q. Will businesses need to rearrange furniture and display racks?
A. Possibly. For example, restaurants may need to rearrange tables and
department stores may need to adjust their layout of racks and shelves in
order to permit access to wheelchair users.
Q. Will businesses need to install elevators?
A. Businesses are not required to retrofit their facilities to install
elevators unless such installation is readily achievable, which is unlikely in
Q. When barrier removal is not readily achievable, what kinds of alternative
steps are required by the ADA?
A. Alternatives may include such measures as in-store assistance for
removing articles from inaccessible shelves, home delivery of groceries,
or coming to the door to receive or return dry cleaning.
Q. Must alternative steps be taken without regard to cost?
A. No, only readily achievable alternative steps must be undertaken.
Q. How is "readily achievable" determined in a multisite business?
A. In determining whether an action to make a public accommodation
accessible would be "readily achievable," the overall size of the parent
corporation or entity is only one factor to be considered. The ADA also
permits consideration of the financial resources of the particular facility or
facilities involved and the administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility
or facilities to the parent entity.
Q. Who has responsibility for ADA compliance in leased places of public
accommodation, the landlord or the tenant?
A. The ADA places the legal obligation to remove barriers or provide
auxiliary aids and services on both the landlord and the tenant. The landlord
and the tenant may decide by lease who will actually make the changes and
provide the aids and services, but both remain legally responsible.
Q. What does the ADA require in new construction?
A. The ADA requires that all new construction of places of public
accommodation, as well as of "commercial facilities" such as office
buildings, be accessible. Elevators are generally not required in facilities
under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless
the building is a shopping center or mall; the professional office of a health
care provider; a terminal, depot, or other public transit station; or an airport
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 49
Q. Is it expensive to make all newly constructed places of public
accommodation and commercial facilities accessible?
A. The cost of incorporating accessibility features in new construction is
less than one percent of construction costs. This is a small price in relation
to the economic benefits to be derived from full accessibility in the future,
such as increased employment and consumer spending and decreased
Q. Must every feature of a new facility be accessible?
A. No, only a specified number of elements such as parking spaces and
drinking fountains must be made accessible in order for a facility to be
"readily accessible." Certain nonoccupiable spaces such as elevator pits,
elevator penthouses, and piping or equipment catwalks need not be
Q. What are the ADA requirements for altering facilities?
A. All alterations that could affect the usability of a facility must be made in
an accessible manner to the maximum extent feasible. For example, if during
renovations a doorway is being relocated, the new doorway must be wide
enough to meet the new construction standard for accessibility. When
alterations are made to a primary function area, such as the lobby of a bank
or the dining area of a cafeteria, an accessible path of travel to the altered
area must also be provided. The bathrooms, telephones, and drinking
fountains serving that area must also be made accessible. These additional
accessibility alterations are only required to the extent that the added
accessibility costs do not exceed 20% of the cost of the original alteration.
Elevators are generally not required in facilities under three stories or with
fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping
center or mall; the professional office of a health care provider; a terminal,
depot, or other public transit station; or an airport passenger terminal.
Q. Does the ADA permit an individual with a disability to sue a business
when that individual believes that discrimination is about to occur, or must
the individual wait for the discrimination to occur?
A. The ADA public accommodations provisions permit an individual to allege
discrimination based on a reasonable belief that discrimination is about to
occur. This provision, for example, allows a person who uses a wheelchair to
challenge the planned construction of a new place of public accommodation,
such as a shopping mall, that would not be accessible to individuals who
use wheelchairs. The resolution of such challenges prior to the construction
of an inaccessible facility would enable any necessary remedial measures to
be incorporated in the building at the planning stage, when such changes
would be relatively inexpensive.
50 Chapter 2
Q. How does the ADA affect existing State and local building codes?
A. Existing codes remain in effect. The ADA allows the Attorney General
to certify that a State law, local building code, or similar ordinance that
establishes accessibility requirements meets or exceeds the minimum
accessibility requirements for public accommodations and commercial
facilities. Any State or local government may apply for certification of its
code or ordinance. The Attorney General can certify a code or ordinance
only after prior notice and a public hearing at which interested people,
including individuals with disabilities, are provided an opportunity to testify
against the certification.
Q. What is the effect of certification of a State or local code or ordinance?
A. Certification can be advantageous if an entity has constructed or altered
a facility according to a certified code or ordinance. If someone later brings
an enforcement proceeding against the entity, the certification is considered
"rebuttable evidence" that the State law or local ordinance meets or exceeds
the minimum requirements of the ADA. In other words, the entity can argue
that the construction or alteration met the requirements of the ADA because
it was done in compliance with the State or local code that had been
Q. When are the public accommodations provisions effective?
A. In general, they became effective on January 26, 1992.
Q. How will the public accommodations provisions be enforced?
A. Private individuals may bring lawsuits in which they can obtain court
orders to stop discrimination. Individuals may also file complaints with the
Attorney General, who is authorized to bring lawsuits in cases of general
public importance or where a "pattern of practice" of discrimination is
alleged. In these cases, the Attorney General may seek monetary damages
and civil penalties. Civil penalties may not exceed $55,000 for a first
violation or $1 10,000 for any subsequent violation.
Q. Is the Federal government covered by the ADA?
A. The ADA does not cover the executive branch of the Federal government.
The executive branch continues to be covered by title V of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination in services and employment on
the basis of handicap and which is a model for the requirements of the ADA.
The ADA, however, does cover Congress and other entities in the legislative
branch of the Federal government.
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 51
Q. Does the ADA cover private apartments and private homes?
A. The ADA does not cover strictly residential private apartments and
homes. If, however, a place of public accommodation, such as a doctor's
office or day care center, is located in a private residence, those portions of
the residence used for that purpose are subject to the ADA'S requirements.
Q. Does the ADA cover air transportation?
A. Discrimination by air carriers in areas other than employment is
not covered by the ADA but rather by the Air Carrier Access Act
(49 U.S.C. 1374(c)).
Q. What are the ADA's requirements for public transit buses?
A. The Department of Transportation has issued regulations mandating
accessible public transit vehicles and facilities. The regulations include
requirements that all new fixed-route, public transit buses be accessible
and that supplementary paratransit services be provided for those
individuals with disabilities who cannot use fixed-route bus service.
Q. How will the ADA make telecommunications accessible?
A. The ADA requires the establishment of telephone relay services for
individuals who use telecommunications devices for deaf persons (TDD's)
or similar devices. The Federal Communications Commission has issued
regulations specifying standards for the operation of these services.
Q. Are businesses entitled to any tax benefit to help pay for the cost of
A. As amended in 1990, the Internal Revenue Code allows a deduction of
up to $15,000 per year for expenses associated with the removal of qualified
architectural and transportation barriers. The 1990 amendment also permits
eligible small businesses to receive a tax credit for certain costs of
compliance with the ADA. An eligible small business is one whose gross
receipts do not exceed $1,000,000 or whose workforce does not consist of
more than 30 full-time workers. Qualifying businesses may claim a credit
of up to 50 percent of eligible access expenditures that exceed $250 but
do not exceed $10,250. Examples of eligible access expenditures include
the necessary and reasonable costs of removing architectural, physical,
communications, and transportation barriers; providing readers, interpreters,
and other auxiliary aids; and acquiring or modifying equipment or devices.
52 Chapter 2
Access as a Civil Right
Approaching disability rights as civil rights moved the fight for equality
and access into the awareness of mainstream America, and led to
several notable legislative actions by the U.S. Congress.
"A Chronology of the Disability Rights Movement"
Office of Human Relations' Disability Programs Unit
San Francisco State University
"The Disability Rights Movement: A Brief History"
Access and Opportunities: A Guide to Disability Awareness
U.S. Society & Values-USIA Electronic Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1 ,
ADA Regulations, Accessibility Standards, Requirements
and Technical Assistance Publications
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20035-6738
(800) 514-0301 voice
(800) 514-0383 TTY
The U.S. Architectural and Transportation
Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board)
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1 111
(202) 272-5434 voice
(202) 272-5449 TTY
(202) 272-5447 fax
(800) 872-2253 voice
(800) 993-2822 TTY
Legal Overview: the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act 53
Employment and Accessibility for Employees
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
1801 L Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20507
(800) 663-4000 voice
(800) 663-4494 TTY
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
An international toll-free consulting service, JAN provides information
about job accommodations and the employability of people with
Job Accommodation Network (JAN)
West Virginia University
PO Box 6080
Morgantown, WV 26506-6080
(800) 526-7234 voice/TTY
Disability and Business Technical Assistance
The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
(NIDRR) has ten regional centers to provide checklists, information
and technical assistance to employers, persons with disabilities,
and others with rights or responsibilities under the ADA. The
centers act as a "one-stop" central, comprehensive resource on
ADA issues in employment, public services, public accommodations
(800) 949-4232 voice/TTY
Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, CA: Backstage dressing room with actress
Universal design goes beyond minimum access standards to the
design of products and environments usable by the broadest public
to the greatest extent possible. The intent of universal design is to
simplify life for everyone by making products, communications and
the built environment usable by as many people as possible. In the
best of all possible worlds, the concept of universal design would
guide the creation of all facilities and programs.
Universal design benefits people of all ages and abilities because
what is an accommodation for one person may be a convenience
for many. The seven principles of universal design can be applied in
many ways, not just to architecture and buildings, but also to programs
and policies. For example: Does an organization's ticket sales system
allow for flexibility in use? Can everyone purchase tickets on the
phone, via the Internet or at the door? Is the system simple and
intuitive? Are the purchasing policies simple and straightforward?
The following seven principles inform the creation of more inclusive
and universally accessible environments.
These principles were compiled by advocates of universal design,
listed in alphabetical order: Bettye Rose Connell, Mike Jones, Ron
Mace, Jim Mueller, Abir Mullick, Elaine Ostroff, Jon Sanford, Ed
Steinfeld, Molly Story and Gregg Vanderheiden, with major funding
provided by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation
Research and the U.S. Department of Education, Copyright 1997, NC
State University, The Center for Universal Design.
Display is visual and tactile
in print and braille
Universal Design Example
Principle One: Equitable Use
The designs are useful and marketable
to people with diverse abilities.
• Provide the same means of use
for all users, identical whenever
possible, equivalent when not.
• Avoid segregating or stigmatizing
• Make provisions for privacy, security
and safety equally available to
• Make the design appealing to
• Power doors with sensors at entrances that are convenient for all users.
• Integrated, dispersed and adaptable seating in assembly areas such
Principle Two: Flexibility in Use
Designs accommodate a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
Provide choice in methods of use.
Accommodate right- or left-handed access and use.
Facilitate the user's accuracy and precision.
Provide adaptability to the user's pace.
• Scissors designed for right- or left-handed users.
• An automated teller machine (ATM) that has visual, tactile, and audio
feedback, a tapered card opening and a palm rest.
Principle Three: Simple and Intuitive Use
Uses of the designs are easy to understand, regardless of the user's
experience, knowledge, language skills or current concentration level.
• Eliminate unnecessary complexity.
• Be consistent with user expectations and intuition.
• Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills.
• Arrange information consistent with its importance.
• Provide effective prompting and feedback during and after task completion.
• A moving sidewalk or escalator in a public space.
• An instruction manual with drawings and no text.
Architectural Access 57
Principle Four: Perceptible Information
The designs communicate necessary information effectively to the user
regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for redundant presentation
of essential information.
Provide adequate contrast between essential information and its
Maximize "legibility" of essential information.
Differentiate elements in ways that can be described (make it easy to
give instructions or directions).
Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by
people with sensory limitations.
• Tactile, visual, and audible cues and instructions on a display with
video or on a thermostat.
• Redundant cueing (e.g. voice communications and signage) in
airports, train stations and subway cars.
Principle Five: Tolerance for Error
The designs minimize hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental
or unintended actions.
• Arrange elements to minimize hazards and errors: most used elements,
most accessible; hazardous elements eliminated, isolated or shielded.
• Provide warnings of hazards and errors.
• Provide fail-safe features.
• Discourage unconscious action in tasks that require vigilance.
• A double-cut key easily inserted into a recessed keyhole in either of
• An "undo" feature in computer software that allows the user to correct
mistakes without penalty.
"You must understand that no matter what your occupation, we are
all designers. Everything conceived or made by humans is designed.
Universal design suggests that products, architecture, museum
programs — all human-made things — must be functional and aesthetically
enhancing, democratic, humane, adaptable, cost effective and inclusive.
From huge systems such as urban planning, to a museum exhibition,
down to a seemingly insignificant object like a can opener, designers
must include the largest possible audience. I don't think most people
realize how design has an impact on every aspect of their daily lives."
Dianne H. Pilgrim, Director Emeritus and Senior Advisor for Special
Projects, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution
Shower head on long
hose can be hand
held or fixed at different
heights for people
showering alone or
Sturdy shower head
holder when securely
fastened can be used
as a grabbar.
Principle Six: Low Physical Effort
The design can be used efficiently and
comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
• Allow user to maintain a neutral body position.
• Use reasonable operating forces.
• Minimize repetitive actions.
• Minimize sustained physical effort.
• Lever or loop handles on doors and faucets.
• Touch lamps operated without a switch.
Principle Seven: Size and Space for
Approach and Use
The design provides appropriate size and space
for approaching, reaching, manipulating and using
regardless of user's body size, posture or mobility.
Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or
Make reaching to all components comfortable for any seated or
Accommodate variations in hand and grip size.
Provide adequate space for using assistive devices or personal
• Controls on the front and clear floor space around an interactive
exhibition, mailboxes and other elements.
• Wide gates at subway station that accommodate all users.
'Universal design is a new approach that assumes most places and
programs can be designed to accommodate a much wider audience —
if we plan from the beginning. It is becoming the approach used by
cultural administrators who want their places, media and programs to
reach the widest possible audience. Universal design helps develop
audiences and careers and community."
Elaine Ostroff, Founding Director, Adaptive Environments
Architectural Access 59
Surveying for Physical Accessibility
Many arts and humanities programs are housed in facilities built before the
Rehabilitation Act, the ADA, the conception of universal design, and before
all of the architectural guidelines developed to increase accessibility.
Nonetheless, cultural programs still require accessible buildings and spaces.
Whether the organization owns or leases a facility, whether the facility is
old or new, there are five steps to ensuring physical accessibility.
1. Conduct a survey to identify accessibility barriers.
A thorough survey should be conducted of every facility where cultural
events occur. Use a reputable survey or checklist to identify barriers to
accessibility. Involve knowledgeable individuals with disabilities in the
process of evaluating what does and doesn't meet the Americans with
Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), Uniform Federal
Accessibility Standards (UFAS), state or local accessibility standards
and codes. Keep in mind that looking beyond the minimum level of
accessibility laid out by codes and standards will broaden the potential
for usability of facilities and programs.
2. Brainstorm ways in which barriers may be eliminated
and ways in which environments may be made more
Once the survey is completed, keep the principles of universal design
in mind, examine the barriers identified and start creating solutions.
For example, the front door leading into the organization's office has
a round doorknob, which is difficult to turn. Solutions might include:
removing the door knob, propping the door open, replacing the door
knob with a levered handle or installing an electronic door opener.
3. Estimates of cost, time and resources involved
in removing barriers and enhancing access.
Take each proposed solution and cost it out. Figure out the time and
resources necessary to accomplish each solution. Look at the practicality
of each solution. For example, removing the doorknob or propping the
door open isn't practical from a safety or security point of view. Installing
an electronic door opener might be the optimal and most universal
solution, but it may not be within the organization's financial reach.
Replacing the round knob with a levered handle is the least expensive
solution and will make the door more accessible.
60 Chapter 3
4. Prioritize projects and apply universal design
principles to barrier removal efforts.
After identifying solutions to barriers, determine in what order barrier
removal will be accomplished. A good plan, both long-term and short-
term, can maximize the effectiveness of barrier removal measures as
well as the use of resources. Use the following priorities recommended
by the U.S. Department of Justice while striving to create a universally
accessible cultural environment.
First priority: Get people in the door.
Second priority: Provide access to goods and services.
Third priority: Provide access to restrooms.
Fourth priority: Remove any remaining barriers.
5. Develop time frame, implement the plan and review
The final step is to develop the time frame and implement the plan. As
in the examples above, fixing the barrier caused by the round doorknob
would be a first priority because it involves getting people in the door.
Initially, the plan would be to replace the round knob with a levered knob,
but within two years identify or budget funds to install an electronic door
opener. Reviewing and reassessing plans is very important. In two years,
the organization may move to a different office space, the levered handle
may provide suitable access or the electronic door may be- a lot less
Even if an organization's permanent programs are in an accessible building,
it may occasionally use other facilities temporarily or for a specific event.
The organization should survey for accessibility. If the facilities are not
accessible, the organization has two choices: either not use that facility or
instigate barrier removal. For example, functions like festivals, circulating
exhibitions or special performances may need temporary solutions to
bypass a curb or a set of stairs, or to provide usable restrooms or improve
signage. For conferences and meetings, the organization might negotiate
with the site management to require accessibility improvements before
signing an agreement to use the site.
Architectural Access 61
Organizations that are building new or renovating old facilities should
carefully select an architect and contractor who are willing to apply universal
design concepts to their work and are committed to creating fully accessible
environments. Architects and contractors should work with recognized
specialists in the field of accessibility along with members of the local
disability community who are fully aware of all applicable accessibility
standards and sensitive to the environmental needs of people with disabilities.
The following is a preliminary guide to help identify areas that need
particular attention, but it is not a comprehensive review of architectural
accessibility standards. For a complete review of accessibility requirements,
refer to either the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines
(ADAAG) or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), both of
which can be obtained from:
The Access Board
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1 1 1 1
(800) 872-2253 voice
(800) 993-2822 TTY
"Every individual, no matter what age, needs accessible venues.
We all benefit from a door that opens easily or a water fountain of
an acceptable height. ... In the new millennium our mandate is
determined: accessibility for all. "
Denise Chavez, Artistic Director, The Border Book Festival
A Hazard at Small Changes in Level
Exterior Accessible Route
Preliminary Guide to Architectural
1. Exterior Accessible Route
An accessible route is a continuous pathway with a stable, firm and slip-
resistant surface at least 36 inches wide, which has no curbs, steps, stairs
or abrupt changes in level greater than 1/4 inch. It should be free from sand,
gravel, gratings, debris or anything that could trip people or result in an
unstable or uneven surface.
An accessible route provides a safe and usable path for people who walk
with difficulty, use wheelchairs, crutches, braces, canes or walkers, or who
have respiratory or heart problems or other conditions that limit stamina or
mobility. Accessible routes are also safer and easier for everyone to follow.
In surveying walks, paths, corridors and floor surfaces, look for small
changes in level, steps and protruding objects (tree branches, shrubbery,
signs, light fixtures). Holes and cracks should be filled in, bumps should be
smoothed out, small changes in level should be ramped and thresholds
should be level with the path or beveled. Curbs encountered on the
accessible route must have curb ramps (commonly known as curb cuts).
If a flight of stairs is the only available route, install a ramp or an elevator.
Drivers who use wheelchairs need
parking spaces on level surfaces
that are 8 feet wide with a 5-foot
access aisle next to them. The first
accessible parking space and 1/8th
of all parking spaces need to be able
to accommodate vans with side lifts
by having an 8-foot-wide access
aisle. Each accessible space must
be as close as possible to the
accessible building entrance and
adjoin an accessible route.
& min 5' min 8> min
Accessible Parking Spaces with Accessible Aisles
The spaces must be marked by an above-ground sign that cannot
be obscured by a vehicle parked in the space and that shows the
international symbol of accessibility. The Americans with Disabilities Act
Guidelines, Standard 4.30.7 (1) specify that facilities and elements,
such as signs, required to be identified as accessible use the
international symbol of accessibility. A sign painted on the pavement
is required in some states but is not sufficient to
satisfy federal requirements. Most large hardware
stores carry ready-made signs. If the route is not
apparent, provide signs directing people to an
Both the UFAS and ADAAG (section 4.1.1)
calculate the number of required accessible
spaces as follows:
Total Parking Spaces Spaces Required
1 to 25
26 to 50
51 to 75
76 to 100
101 to 150
151 to 200
201 to 300
301 to 400
401 to 500
501 to 1000
1001 and over
2 percent of total
20 plus 1 for each 100 over 1000
If off-site parking is available, ensure that there is an accessible route of
travel from the off-site parking to the facility's entrance. Mark the accessible
route clearly with appropriate signage.
off site parking
Accessible Route from Off-Site Parking
A passenger-loading zone should have at least 5 feet of clear space beside
the vehicle for passenger loading. The passenger-loading zone must
connect to an accessible route to the building entry. Curbs at passenger
drop-off zones must have curb cuts that are kept unobstructed.
Passenger Loading Zone
3. Entrances and Doors
Entrances to buildings should be approached
by a flat or gradually sloping and smooth
surface. An accessible route must connect
parking areas, drop-off zones, public
transportation stops or other buildings
with the building entrance.
Most building standards specify ramps with
a maximum slope of 8.3 percent, which is
one foot of rise for every 12 feet of horizontal
run. For every 30 feet of run an intermediate
5-foot long landing or rest platform is
required. In addition, 5-foot level platforms
must be at both the top and bottom of the
ramp. Consequently, a ramp for a 4-foot rise
must be at least 48 feet long plus have
5-foot long landings at the top and bottom
and at least one level intermediate 5-foot
long landing. Ramps are usually required
to have hand railings on both sides.
Long ramps can be handled in a variety of
ways: straight run, switch back or L-shape.
Level approaches however, are always
preferable to ramps. In some instances,
particularly in historic buildings, re-
landscaping the approach to change the
entrance level may be the best solution.
Also, interior ramps are always preferable
to exterior ramps so that no one is required
to roll or walk on an inclined surface during
Doorways and Thresholds
Doorways must provide a minimum of 32
inches of clearance when the door is standing
open at 90 degrees. Most exterior doorways
are 36 inches wide, but interior doors are often
narrower. All doorways need a 5-foot by 5-foot
level and clear area on the pull side. The door
should have a kickplate and lever-type or
push-pull or U-shaped hardware.
Straight Run Ramp
32" Minimum Clear Width Door
Clear Space to Side of Door
Weather stripping on the bottom edge of the door is preferable to a
threshold as a means of stopping infiltration. Thresholds must not be
more than 1/2 inch high and must be beveled if more than 1/4 inch high.
Interior doors should take no more than 5 pounds of pull (force) to open.
Door closers should be adjusted or removed so that someone with limited
upper body strength or limited mobility can easily open the door.
on Main Street
Many people with disabilities cannot use revolving doors or turnstiles.
If either exists in a cultural facility, there must be a readily accessible
alternate route around them. A swinging door placed immediately adjacent
to a revolving door or a gate next to a turnstile are most convenient.
Auxilary door operable from outside
must not be locked.
If a swinging door is not located near
a revolving door, provide an alternate
entrance. Post a sign at the revolving
door directing people to the usable
door. Proper signage, with the
universal symbol for access, must be
placed at any inaccessible entrance
to notify the public where the closest
accessible entrance is located.
Auxiliary Entrance for Revolving Door
Power-Operated Door at Entrance
If swinging power-operated doors are
used for two-way traffic, the activating
and safety mats, as well as guard rails,
must extend well in front of the door
swing to prevent the opening door from
hitting anyone. If the power door is
operated with a button, be sure to place
the button in an accessible location and
out of the way of the swing of the door.
Power Operated Door at Entrance
Double Door Vestibule
Double door vestibules with limited maneuvering space can trap people who
use wheelchairs. At least 4 feet must be between the face of the first door
and the second door in its open position. The best entrance for older adults
and people with disabilities is one with power-operated doors.
Vestibule at Entrance
4. Interior Accessible Route
Inside a building, people must be able to move about using a continuous
pathway that is well lit, stable, firm, slip-resistant, unobstructed and at least
36 inches wide. The accessible route should be the shortest route. Signage
should clearly mark the accessible route, if not all routes are accessible. If
possible, seating should be provided at periodic intervals for people who
need to rest.
Interior Accessible Route
Clearance for Passage
People who use mobility aids such as wheelchairs, walkers or crutches and
braces require more space in which to maneuver. The average adult-sized
wheelchair is about 26 to 28 inches wide and uses about 30" inches by 48
inches of floor space. Because at least four feet is required for a person
in a wheelchair to pass a walking person — five feet for two people using
wheelchairs to pass — it is recommended that all aisles and hallways have
a minimum width of 5 feet.
Clearance for Aisles
Clear Floor space
Carpet must adhere directly to the flooring, with a firm cushion, pad or
backing that must be attached to the carpet. The carpet should be level
loop, textured loop, level cut pile or level cut/uncut pile texture with a
maximum pile thickness of 1/2 inch. Soft carpet or padding, especially in
thicknesses greater than 1/2 inch, make using wheelchairs, crutches, canes
and walkers very difficult. Any carpet that shifts, or has an unattached pad
underneath, is very difficult for wheelchair users to negotiate.
Wall-mounted elements such as
telephone enclosures, light fixtures,
fire extinguishers, water fountains,
exhibit cases or signs that stick out
more than four inches from the wall
can be hazardous to people who are
blind or have low vision and who
depend on a long cane for mobility.
If the cane passes below the object,
the object is not detected, and people
could walk into it.
There are several solutions: secure
or extend a cane-detectable object
under the protruding object; recess
the object so it no longer protrudes;
if possible, raise the object above 80
inches; or lower the protruding object
to less than 27 inches so a person
using a cane can detect it.
Problems can also result from
handrails, cueing line barriers or
objects with widely spaced supports.
The latter can be imperceptible to
those using a long cane because the
cane can pass between or beneath
them without making contact.
Cane will not detect wall
mounted objects above 27"
Protruding Object Hazard Protruding Object Warning
Stairwell with Cane Warning
Interior Changes in Levels
Abrupt changes in floor levels in buildings are one of the most common
problems for people with disabilities. If one or more steps elevate an
entire area, it is inaccessible and will need to be made accessible.
Using wedges or small ramps can eliminate small changes in levels
up to 6 inches in height.
60" \oy\q, level area
at top of ramp
handrails on both sides
slope max. 1:12,
the less steep, the better
60" long, level area
at bottom of ramp
The best and safest solution to an
interior change in level is a permanent
ramp. Finish material can match
surrounding materials, but the ramp
surface should be firm and have
a non-slip surface. Such ramps must
not be steeper than 1:12 and must
have hand railings on both sides.
Remember, every foot of rise requires
at least 12 feet of run. An intermediate
5-foot long landing or rest platform that
is at least as wide as the ramp is
required for every 30 feet of run. In addition, 5-foot level platforms must be
provided at both the top and bottom of the ramp. Extended lengthy ramps
are a poor solution for the wheelchair user, because many people cannot
push themselves up such a long slope.
For intermittent or temporary situations such as an outdoor art or music
festival or a lecture/panel platform, use ramps with substantial handrails
on each side and a non-slip surface. Portable metal ramps are another
temporary solution. However, these folding lightweight ramps have small
curbs, no handrails and should not be left in place unattended.
Handrail at Stairs
Handrails should be provided on both sides
of stairs and around landings. Handrails must
extend at least 1 foot horizontally beyond the
top step and the bottom step. Hand railings
should be 1 1/4 inches to 1 1/2 inches in
diameter and be 1 1/2 inches from the wall.
If handrails exist, but do not have horizontal
extensions, modify or replace them. If
horizontal extensions cannot be installed
on both handrails, install them on at least
one. If children will use stairs, consider
installing a second, lower handrail.
If the building is equipped with elevators, the
elevator may be completely accessible or
may need some improvements to be usable
Call buttons must be no more than 48 inches
above the floor. Car arrival indicators should
light up and ring to announce a car's arrival so
people with either visual or hearing loss can
Raised numeral and braille floor indicators
must be placed on both doorjambs and located
at a height of 60 inches above the floor. The
raised numeral should be at least 2 inches tall
and raised at least 1/16 of an inch above the
surface. These can be easily added to elevator
Remove obstacles that
are under call buttons
Elevator size is critical for people who use wheelchairs.
Elevators should have enough space to allow a person
using a wheelchair to turn around inside. If an elevator
has at least a 30 inch by 48 inch clear floor space inside,
it should accommodate a person using a wheelchair. By
pulling straight in and backing out or vice versa, most
people using wheelchairs can fit in an elevator that is
as small as 48 inches from the door to the back wall.
In these very small elevators, however, a person who
uses a wheelchair will probably not be able to reach the
controls unless the controls are placed on a side wall.
Elevator Control Panel
The highest operable part of the control panel (top
elevator control button and/or the emergency controls)
must be no more than 48 inches above the floor. In
some cases, it may be acceptable to install a stick or
wand hung from a chain in the corner of the cab that
can be used to push controls that are out of reach.
must be able to
reach control buttons
Minimum Cab Size
numerals ^A-* min
5 /&" high
raised, but not
Elevator control buttons must have raised numerals and braille to the left
of each button. Inexpensive, adhesive-backed, raised numerals with braille
can be added to existing elevator panels. However, these labels are easily
removed and must be continually monitored to ensure that they remain in
place. For people who are blind or have low vision, lighting is also particularly
important, as are the size and contrast of color on the call buttons.
Mechanical wheelchair lifts are a solution of last-resort. Lifts require power,
are subject to mechanical failure and operator error, need routine and
regular maintenance, require the use of a key and have several built-in
safety features that make them difficult to use independently in public
spaces. Wheelchair lifts should only be installed if there is not adequate
room for a ramp or another solution is not available. Post instructions for
operation on or near the lift and have the key readily available.
Mechanical lifts can be placed over or next to existing stairs. Two types
of lifts exist, vertical and inclined. Vertical lifts are placed at or beside the
stairs and rise or lower vertically. Inclined lifts travel on a track mounted
on the wall beside the stair. Most inclined lifts can be folded out of the
way when not in use. Many jurisdictions restrict them from use on narrow
flights of stairs where they may block fire egress.
5. Amenities, Services and Conveniences
People with disabilities must be able to take advantage of food services,
shops, and other amenities and conveniences. Accessibility goes beyond
the ability to just enter and exit an area, space or room. It also means the
ability to use the facilities or take advantage of the services provided.
Controls and Hardware
Controls and hardware include operating mechanisms such as door
handles, thermostats, toilet flush controls, faucet handles, locks, dial pads,
window cranks, computer keyboards and touch screens, fire alarms, light
switches and coin slots. They must be mounted where short or seated
people or those who cannot raise their arms can reach them. There has
to be enough clear floor space for people using wheelchairs to get close to
the controls. In addition, controls must be easy to operate. Controls should
be operable with one hand in a closed fist and not require gripping, twisting
nor more than five pounds of pressure.
People with disabilities who are of short stature or who use wheelchairs
cannot easily reach objects or controls placed higher than 48 inches
above the floor. The most usable range is between 36 and 48 inches
above the floor.
If x Is Ices than 20"-> 46" max
If x Ie20" -25" ->44"max
Forward Reach Range at Work
Side Reach Range
Public telephones should be mounted along an accessible route
(not protruding) with the highest operable part (coin slot or keypad)
no more than 48 inches above the floor. Clear floor space of at least
30 by 48 inches must be in front of the phone so that a person
using a wheelchair can comfortably pull up to it.
At least one phone in each phone bank should have volume control
for people who are hard-of-hearing. If public pay phones are made
available, then a TTY for public use should also be available. Place
signage at public phones to indicate the availability of volume
controls and the location of the nearest TTY.
Accessible Pay Telephone
Water fountains should be located along an accessible route and can
be used by most people with disabilities, if the spout is no more than
36 inches above the floor.
The best type of water fountain for people who use wheelchairs is one that
has at least 27 inches of clear space between the bottom of the apron and
the floor. A high-low arrangement of water fountains is accessible to
standing, seated or short individuals. Water fountains with automatic or
lever-type handles are best because wheelchair users cannot use foot-
operated controls. Installing a new lower water fountain may be more
economical than relocating or modifying an existing installation.
Minimum Apron Clearance
Maximum Spout Height
Signs that designate permanent rooms and spaces such as restrooms,
conference or meeting rooms and offices must be accessible. In general,
accessible signs have raised letters and numerals, use sans serif type and
braille. Typeface must be clear, with maximum contrasting colors. The surface
of the sign should be well lit and have a matte or other non-glossy finish.
Signage is a much overlooked accessibility asset. It
should be used to give people information and direct
them to accessible routes and entrances, telephones,
restrooms and emergency exits (especially when not
all are accessible). Most people, including those who
cannot read or do not know English, can understand
pictographs and international symbols.
Emergency warning systems should produce signals
that can be perceived by people who are blind or have
low vision and those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
Signals that are exclusively bells, buzzers, flashing
lights or visual warning signs are useless to people
who cannot hear or see them.
Many new electronic devices provide warning signals
that are both audible and visible. If ringing bells are
used, for example, to signal patrons and visitors of the
start of a movie or performance, the arrival of
transportation or the start of a demonstration, make
sure to have some visual alert such as flashing lights.
To Display Captions
Push the Button
Readable Sign Pictograph
Audible and Visible Signals
Ticket Offices and Information Booths
Ticket offices and information booths should be located on accessible
routes and have a minimum clear space of 30 by 48 inches in front of
the transaction window or counter. A 60 by 60 inch clear floor area is
preferable so that someone using a wheelchair, scooter or walker can
approach and turn around to leave rather than having to back away.
At least one counter and/or window should be a maximum of 36 inches above
the floor with knee space that is at least 27 inches high and at least 36 inches
wide so that a person who is seated or short can approach the transaction
space. At this level a short or seated user can see and communicate easily
with the person behind the counter. It will also allow the person to use the
counter space to write checks or make transactions. If stanchions or other
crowd-control devices are used to organize lines, be sure these are placed
so that the path is at least 36 inches wide at all points.
Ticket Office Window
Locate ticket offices and information booths in areas that are acoustically
protected so that patrons are able to hear the person selling tickets or
providing information. These areas also should be well lit to allow patrons
who have low vision to see seating charts, tickets, maps, brochures and
receipts. Signage should be clear and legible with large simple fonts in
high contrast colors.
The counter at the coatroom should be no higher than 36 inches so that
a short or seated person can easily pass heavy coats and bags' to the
attendant. If the coatroom is self-service, at least one rack or section
of hangers and coat hooks should be no higher than 48 inches.
Concessions and Food Service
Seating for individuals who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids should be
integrated and dispersed throughout restaurants, dining rooms, canteens
and cafeterias. At least five percent of the tables must be accessible. Aisles
and space between tables should be at least 36 inches wide to allow people
to easily maneuver between the tables and chairs — even when people are
seated at the tables.
People using wheelchairs must be able to get their knees under the table.
This requires clearance that is at least 27 inches high, 30 inches wide
and 17 inches deep under accessible tables and counters. The tops of
accessible tables and counters should be no higher than 34 inches
above the floor.
Provide menus in accessible formats such as large print and braille, or
prepare waiters to read the menu to diners who are blind, have low vision
or difficulty reading text materials. People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing
appreciate well lit and quiet dining areas.
'36 T ' m\n<& -1
-42" preferred — ►
Food Service Area
Make gift shops accessible with good
lighting, wide aisles and easy to reach
Keep aisles at least 36 inches wide.
Placing displays and allowing
merchandise to protrude into the
aisles makes it difficult, uncomfortable
and potentially unsafe for people with
different mobility aids, as well as for
those who are blind or have low vision,
to maneuver around the shop. Train
staff to assist customers in retrieving
objects that are displayed out of reach and to read prices to those who
cannot read text.
Make at least one cash register and counter accessible to people who are
short or use a wheelchair. The counter top should be no more than 36
inches above the floor, at least 36 inches in length and placed along an
Accessible restroom facilities may have many different configurations. Single
user restrooms are convenient for individuals who use power wheelchairs
or scooters or who need assistance with personal care. These single-
user (unisex) restrooms are also very useful for parents who need to
clear floor space may be part of the clear knee space
required under objects, such as lavatories
T-shaped Clear Floor Space
k-ro"-*!*— 3'0" — ►U-i , o ,, -w
Restroom Signage, Doors and
Signage at restrooms must have raised
characters, braille and pictograms. Signs
must be located on the wall at the latch
side of the door whenever possible and
be hung 60 inches from the center point
of the sign to the floor. Signs should
indicate whether the restroom is for
men, women or unisex and whether the
restroom is accessible. If the restroom is
not accessible, signage must be provided
that directs people to the nearest
Doors to be used by people with disabilities must provide a 32-inch clear
opening width when the door is in the open position. Some restrooms have
a vestibule or an entrance that requires people to turn a sharp corner. These
and double-door vestibules with limited maneuvering space can trap people
who use mobility aids.
There must be at least 4 feet between the vestibule's second door in its
open position and the face of the first door. Entrances that wrap or turn
corners should be wide enough to allow a person using a scooter or larger
power wheelchair to comfortably turn and maneuver into the restroom.
Every restroom should have at least
one accessible stall that has a 60-inch
diameter or T-turn clear floor space
free of the door swing. The toilet
should be located in the corner
diagonally opposite from the door.
This space configuration allows a
wheelchair user to do a side transfer
onto the toilet, and turn around inside
the stall. Accessible toilet stalls must
have doors that, when open, have a
clear opening width of 32 inches. This
usually means that the door itself will
be at least 33 inches wide. Inside the
stall there should be two 1 1/2 inch
diameter grab bars mounted
<— 42" min
Accessible Toilet Stall
with wall-mounted toilet
► with floor-mounted toilet
Alternate Toilet Stall
56" min x 60" min
clear floor space
at toilet ~—
30" min x 4©" min
door does not
clear floor space
5 Foot wide Toilet Stall
horizontally, with a 42-inch bar on the near wall and another 36-inch bar
on the rear wall, both at a height of 33 inches above the floor. The space
between the grab bars and the wall should be exactly 1 1/2 inches wide.
The top of the toilet seat in the down position should be between 17 and
19 inches from the floor.
Toilet paper dispensers should allow for a continuous flow of paper and be
located in a position below the grab bars that is easy to reach while seated
at the toilet. Recessed dispensers are preferred but not required. Stall
doors should have locks and handles that can be operated easily with a
closed fist. Coat hooks, dispensers and trash receptacles should be located
within reach range no lower than 15 inches and no higher than 48 inches
from the floor.
Lavatories, Mirrors, Soap and Towel Dispensers
Lavatories used by people with disabilities must have at least 29 inches of
clearance between the bottom edge of the apron front and the floor. The
faucets should be automatic or have handles that can be operated without
grasping and twisting. Levers and push buttons (the kind that require light
pressure and leave the water running for a while) are generally preferred.
Pipes under the lavatory must be insulated to protect people who have no
sensation in their legs from burning.
Mirrors must have bottom-reflecting
edges no more than 40 inches above the
floor. Dispensers and trash receptacles
should have the highest operable part no
more than 48 inches above the floor. Do
not locate them so the wheelchair
approach is obstructed. Following are
some suggestions for modifications:
• Cut lavatory aprons to provide
necessary knee clearances.
• If dispensers and mirrors are too
high, it is often easier to mount a
new dispenser nearby and install
a full-length mirror on another wall
than to relocate the existing ones.
• If towel and soap dispensers are
too high, place towels and soap on
the lavatory counter or on a shelf
or table within reach of seated or
short people. Remember, however
that doing this requires daily
• Replace round faucet knobs with
automatic controls or with lever
handles that can be operated
with a closed fist.
towel dispenser too high
and located over counter top
soap dispensers wh
not too high, are
awkward for some to
reach over the counter
Problem at Lavatories
• lower mirror or install full length mirror
• install second, lower towel dispenser
• alternate-place stack of towels on counter
• change faucet knobs to levers
• bar soap can substitute for dispensers
• cut apron
• insulate exposed drain and
hot water pipes
Full length mirror
Work Areas - Pressing Room
X should be 25" max
If X is 20-25" then Y should be AA" may.
If X is less than 20" then Y should be 4&" max
clear knee space
Work Areas - Control Booth
7. Work Areas
Be prepared to provide reasonable accommodations to make work areas
accessible to staff, board members, panelists, volunteers, performers,
technicians and others with disabilities. Work areas should be clear of
protruding objects. Aisles and passageways should be kept unobstructed,
well lit and safe for individuals who are blind or have low vision. A person
who uses a wheelchair or other mobility aid should be able to get
comfortably into and out of work areas and be able to use and reach
workstations, operate equipment, use the restrooms and take advantage
of break rooms, lounges and cafeterias.
Architectural Access 83
The Center for Universal Design
The center is a national research, information and technical
assistance center that evaluates, develops and promotes
Center for Universal Design
North Carolina State University
School of Design
Raleigh, NC 27695-8613
(919) 515-3023 fax
(800) 647-6777 voice
"Global Universal Design Educators Monthly On-Line News"
A monthly on-line newsletter that highlights projects related to
universal design around the world, and the efforts of designers
and educators who are involved in the practice of universal design.
Adaptive Environments Center, Inc.
374 Congress Street, Suite 301
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 695-1225 voice/TTY
(617) 482-8099 fax
Center for Inclusive Design & Environmental Access
IDEA provides resources and technical expertise in architecture,
product design, facilities management and the social and behavioral
sciences. They offer "Universal Design Education On-Line" and
"Unlimited by Design" a traveling exhibit originally developed by the
Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum/ Smithsonian Institution in 1999.
School of Architecture and Planning - University at Buffalo
Center for Inclusive Design & Environmental Access
Buffalo, NY 14214-3087^
(716) 829-3485 ext 329 voice
(877) 237-4219 ext 336 TTY
84 Chapter 3
Surveys and Checklists for Accessibility
"Readily Achievable Checklist: A Survey for Accessibility"
An easy-to-use survey tool, based on the ADAAG, to help owners and
managers of public accommodations identify barriers in facilities.
Adaptive Environments Center, Inc.
374 Congress Street, Suite 301
Boston, MA 02210
(617) 695-1225 voice/TTY
(617) 482-8099 fax
"ADA Compliance Guidebook: A Checklist for Your Building"
This guide is a reference document and workbook for surveying
buildings and facilities for accessibility.
Building Owners and Managers Association International
1201 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 408-2662 voice
"Checklist For Buildings And Facilities"
This checklist was prepared by the Access Board to assist individuals
and entities with Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities
Act (ADA) in applying the requirements of the Americans with
Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) to buildings and
facilities subject to the law.
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1 111
(202) 272-5434 voice
(202) 272-5449 TTY
(202) 272-5447 fax
(800) 872-2253 voice
(800) 993-2822 TTY
North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC: Visitor Maralo Guimaraes
Architectural Access to
This chapter is excerpted with permission from "Making Historic Properties
Accessible," Preservation Brief 32 by Thomas C. Jester, architectural
historian, and Sharon C. Park, AIA, senior historical architect, Preservation
Assistance Division of the National Park Service. Download the complete
brief at www2.cr.nps.gov/TPS/briefs/brief32.htm
Historic properties are irreplaceable and require special care to ensure their
preservation for future generations. With the passage of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, access to historic properties open to the public is now a civil
right and owners of historic properties must evaluate existing buildings to
determine how they can be made more accessible. It is a challenge to
evaluate properties thoroughly, to identify the applicable accessibility
requirements, to explore alternatives and to implement solutions that both
provide independent access and are consistent with accepted historic
This chapter introduces historic property owners, design professionals and
administrators to the issues of evaluating historic properties to provide the
highest level of accessibility while minimizing changes to historic materials
and features. Because many projects encompassing accessibility work are
complex, consultation with experts in the fields of historic preservation and
accessibility is advisable before proceeding with permanent physical
changes to historic properties.
"Preservation of our historic structures; presentation of an early 19th
century community complete with earthen paths and roadways and
narrow entries with stone steps provided a challenge of the greatest
magnitude. With the assistance of our Accessibility Advisory Council,
however, we found our successes in adopting the broadest perspective
while developing solutions. Operationally, it had to become a way of
thinking for all of us, if we were to achieve our goals for an accessible
Alberta Sebolt-George, President and CEO, Old Sturbridge Village
88 Chapter 4
Solutions for accessibility should not destroy a property's significant materials,
features and spaces, but should increase accessibility as much as possible.
Remember, most historic buildings are not exempt from providing accessibility.
With careful planning, owners can make historic properties more accessible,
so that all people can enjoy their significance.
Historic properties are not exempt from the ADA Accessibility Guidelines
(ADAAG). The ADA requires barrier removal in historic buildings, if the
removal is readily achievable. The ADA, however, takes into account the
national interest in preserving significant historic structures. Barrier removal
would not be considered "readily achievable," if it would threaten or destroy
the historic significance of a building or facility that is eligible for listing in
the National Register of Historic Places under the National Historic
Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470, et seq.), or is designated as historic
under state or local law.
Planning Accessibility Modifications
Features, materials, spaces and spatial relationships that contribute to
historic character, distinguish historic properties. Often these elements,
such as steep terrain, monumental steps, narrow or heavy doors, decorative
ornamental hardware, narrow pathways and corridors, pose barriers to
people with disabilities or who are older, particularly to people who use
wheelchairs or have limited mobility.
Three Steps to Accessibility
Use a three-step approach to identify and implement accessibility
modifications that protect the integrity and historic character of historic
First: Review the historical significance of the property and identify
Second: Assess the property's existing and required level of accessibility.
Third: Evaluate accessibility options within a preservation context.
1. Review the Historical Significance of the Property
If the property has been designated as historic (properties in or eligible
for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or designated as
such under state or local law), review its nomination file to learn about
its significance. Supplement the documentation review with physical
investigation to identify which character-defining features and spaces
must be modified.
Architectural Access to Historic Properties 89
Also, identify secondary spaces, finishes and features of less importance
to the historic character; these generally may be altered without
jeopardizing the property's historical significance. It is often possible
to modify non-significant spaces, secondary pathways, later additions,
previously altered areas, utilitarian spaces and service areas without
threatening or destroying a property's historical significance.
2. Assess the Property's Existing and Required Level of
A building survey or assessment provides a thorough evaluation of a property's
accessibility. People with disabilities should be included in building
assessments. Such surveys or assessments should identify accessibility
barriers including, but not limited to: building and site entrances, ramp and
walkway surface textures, widths and slopes of ramps and walkways,
parking, grade changes, size and weight of doors, configuration of doorways,
interior corridors and path of travel restrictions, elevators, public restrooms
Review all applicable accessibility requirements — state codes, local codes and
federal laws — before undertaking any accessibility modification. Many states
and localities have their own accessibility regulations and codes (each with
its own requirements for dimensions and technical requirements). Use the
most stringent accessibility requirements when implementing modifications.
3. Identify and Evaluate Accessibility Options within a
Once owners have identified a property's significant materials and features
and established both existing and required levels of accessibility, solutions
can be developed. Solutions should provide the greatest accessibility without
threatening or destroying the materials and features that make a property
significant. All proposed changes should conform to the Department of the
Interior's "Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties," which was
created to guide property owners' preservation work.
Owners may phase in modifications over time and can consider interim
solutions. A team comprising older adults and people with disabilities,
"Accessibility and respect for the integrity of historic sites are
important priorities. We had always dealt with these as separate issues
until our recent renovation of Charleston's 1836 MacFarland-Hubbard
House, when suddenly, both were at the top of the agenda. Working
with a dedicated team we found surprisingly simple solutions to
creating accessibility by raising a back porch floor and re-grading
the surrounding yard to create an effectively invisible wheelchair ramp."
Ken Sullivan, Executive Director, West Virginia Humanities Council
90 Chapter 4
accessibility and historic preservation professionals and building inspectors
should consult on the development of accessibility solutions.
Priorities for Modifications to Improve Accessibility
First: Make accessible the main or a prominent public entrance
and primary public spaces, including a path to the entrance.
Second: Provide access to goods, services and programs.
Third: Provide accessible restroom facilities.
Fourth: Create access to amenities, secondary spaces and
The goal in selecting appropriate solutions for specific historic properties
is to provide a high level of accessibility without compromising significant
features or the overall character of the property. Consider all of the historic
Primary Public Entrance
Access to historic buildings should be
through a primary public entrance. If this
cannot be achieved without permanent
damage to character-defining features, the
owner should make at least one entrance
used by the public accessible. Directional
signs at all inaccessible entrances should
direct visitors to the accessible entrance.
Possible modifications to create an
accessible entrance include re-grading an
entrance, incorporating ramps, retrofitting
doors, altering door thresholds, adapting
door hardware, converting an existing
window to a new entrance or, as a last
resort, installing wheelchair lifts.
Entrance with Re-graded Landscape
Architectural Access to Historic Properties
Primary spaces are often more difficult to modify without changing
their character. Generally, secondary spaces may be changed without
compromising a building's historic character. Signs should clearly
mark the route to accessible restrooms, telephones and other accessible
areas. Some modifications that may help create access to interior spaces
without changing their character include installing ramps, upgrading
elevators, modifying interior stairs and retrofitting doorknobs.
Some amenities, such as restrooms, seating, telephones, water fountains
and counters may contribute to a building's historic character. They often
will require modification to improve their use by people with disabilities.
In many cases, supplementing existing amenities, rather than changing
or removing them, will increase access and minimize changes to historic
features and materials.
New additions create opportunities
to provide access for older people
and individuals with disabilities by
incorporating modern amenities such
as accessible entrances, elevators,
ramps, restrooms, food service areas
and gift shops. Consider the location
carefully so that it is near parking and
connected to an accessible route. New
additions can increase accessibility
and reduce the level of change to
historic features, materials and spaces.
"Programmatic access" for historic properties refers to alternative methods
of providing services, information and experiences when physical access
cannot be provided. It may mean offering an audio-visual program or
computerized virtual tour showing an inaccessible upper floor of an historic
house museum, providing interpretive panels from a vista or overlook at a
terraced garden or creating a tactile model of a historic monument for
people who are blind or have low vision.
92 Chapter 4
Making Historic Landscapes Accessible
The planning process for incorporating access into historic landscapes is
similar to that of other historic properties. Undertake careful research and
inventory to determine which materials and features convey the landscape's
historic significance. Identify features that are character defining, such as
topographical variation, vegetation, circulation, structures, furnishings and
Document and evaluate historic finishes, details and materials that
contribute to a landscape's significance before determining an approach
to landscape accessibility. For example, understand all aspects of the
pedestrian circulation system including walk width, aggregate size,
pavement pattern, texture, relief and joint details. Note the context of
the walk, including its edges and surrounding area.
Additionally, identify areas of secondary importance, such as altered
paths — especially those where the accessibility modifications will not
destroy a landscape's significance. Identifying those features that do or
do not contribute to accessibility is essential in developing a sympathetic
After assessing a landscape's integrity, consider accessibility solutions.
When a landscape is uniformly steep it may be possible to make discrete
portions of the historic landscape accessible. For example, viewers may
experience the landscape from selected vantage points along a prescribed
pedestrian or vehicular access route. Define this route by considering the
interpretive value of the user's experience: does the route provide physical
or visual access to areas that are critical to understanding the meaning of
Architectural Access to Historic Properties 93
Accessibility and Historic Properties
"ADA: A Self-Guided Training Course for Historic
National Alliance of Preservation Commissions
Post Office Box 1605
Athens, GA 30603
(706) 542-0156 voice
(706) 583-0320 fax
"Preserving the Past and Making it Accessible for People
"Accessibility Checklist for Historic Properties"
"Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of
National Center for Cultural Resources Stewardship &
Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service
1849 C Street, NW, NC330
Washington, DC 20240
(202) 343-9583 voice
"Accessibility and Historic Preservation: Entrances to
This is a VHS video that can be obtained with closed or
Historic Windsor, Inc.
PO Box 1777
Windsor, VT 05089-0021.
(802) 674-6752 voice/TTY
94 Chapter 4
Parks, Recreational and Outdoor Facilities
National Center on Accessibility
The National Center on Accessibility (NCA) is a program of Indiana
University in cooperation with the U.S. National Park Service. NCA
provides technical assistance to organizations of all sizes who are
designing and retrofitting leisure areas, park facilities and programs
for accessibility. The NCA conducts, promotes and facilitates research
on issues essential to accessibility and conducts educational
programs through out the United States.
National Center on Accessibility
2805 East 10th Street, Suite 190
Bloomington, IN 47408-2698
"Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility
USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C. 20090-6090
(202) 205-8333 voice
Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ: Sign language interpreter Jolinda Greenfield
and Program Access
Five Steps to Effective Communication
This chapter looks at auxiliary aids and services that provide
effective communication and make programs inclusive, enjoyable
and accessible to everyone.
In addition to physical access to programs, arts and humanities
organizations must provide access to the content of their programs
for audiences, instructors, artists, interns, participants, staff, docents,
visitors, patrons and volunteers. Everything the organization produces
or presents must be accessible, including exhibitions, lectures, films,
videos, interactive computer displays, plays and concerts, as well as
the materials about the programs — catalogues, labeling, scripts,
libretti, brochures, maps and publicity.
Effective communication allows people with disabilities that affect
their hearing, vision, speech and cognition to participate in services,
goods and programs. Auxiliary aids and services include a wide
range of communication techniques and devices.
Keep in mind the five steps to achieve effective communication:
First: Understand that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution.
Second: Explore ways to accommodate the diverse needs of each
Third: Be prepared with well thought-out policies and procedures for
accommodating the diverse needs of each population.
Fourth: Train all staff and volunteers who come in contact with the
public to be knowledgeable about auxiliary aids and services.
Fifth: Inform the public about auxiliary aids and services through
signage, advertising, Web sites and other means available.
For People Who Are Blind or Have
Information regularly provided in visual formats must also be available in
alternate formats. The "blind community" is not one large homogeneous
group. People who are blind, legally blind or have low vision have a range
of sight and loss of sight. Some people are blind from birth while others
become blind later. People may have reduced or limited vision because
of loss of visual acuity as they age. This diversity is reflected in the variety
of possible ways to make visual information accessible.
Audio and Video Description
Audio description and descriptive
video provide concise, objective
descriptions of the settings, costumes,
action, physical appearance and body
language of the characters in a play,
film, video or television program or
the size, shape, colors, textures,
composition, subject and content of
visual art or other exhibited materials.
Describers undergo extensive training
to attain proficiency. Not everyone has
the skills or qualities to be a good
describer. For example, describers
are trained to slip descriptions in-between lines of dialogue. They also
avoid qualitative judgments. A well-trained describer would not say,
"He is angry," or "She is sad." Rather, they would say, "He's clenching
his fist," or "She is crying."
Audio description for performances and tours is usually delivered live
and transmitted to listeners via infrared or FM assistive listening devices.
Audio description for museums and exhibits is usually pre-recorded
and available to visitors on audiocassette or via random access digital
Video description is pre-recorded and, in the case of recorded television
programs, videotapes and DVDs (Digital Video Discs), is available on
television with a SAP (second audio program). Broadcasts of live events,
such as parades, are described live. Description for films can be
recorded or delivered live.
Effective Communication and Program Access
Audio Alternatives for Print
Some people who are blind or have low vision cannot read braille or large
print and find recorded information more useful. Also instances exist where
some people with motor impairments or learning disabilities cannot use
traditional print and prefer hearing information rather than reading it. A
braille or large print version of label text might be too cumbersome to carry
around a historical exhibit.
Text information can be provided via audiocassette tapes and other
technologies such as random access digital playback systems or
FM/infrared systems. In museums and exhibitions, locate listening
stations with speakers, handsets or earphones adjacent to printed
information (explanatory information, legends, labels, etc.) to provide
prerecorded playback of the printed materials.
Braille is a system of touch reading that employs embossed dots
evenly arranged in cells. In each cell, it is possible to place six dots,
three high and two wide. Not all people who are blind or have low
vision read braille, but those who
do will benefit from receiving print
materials in this format. Studies over
the past three decades agree that
80,000 to 85,000, or eight percent,
of people who are blind in the
United States use braille for reading.
The six dots of
the braille cell
An experienced person using a
braille writer, a mechanical device
similar to a typewriter, can produce
single copies of braille. A more
p q r
Capital Number Period Comma
2 Sign Sign
The capital sign place before a letter or word capitalizes it.
The number sign place before letters a through j makes numbers 1 through 0.
efficient method is to use a computer ## ; # •• ## # ; # j m .• ••
with specialized braille software and
a printer called an embosser. With
training, someone who has minimal
knowledge of braille can format and
translate simple text documents into
braille using this system. If purchasing the software and printer are beyond
an organization's financial resources, contact state or local organizations
for people who are blind or have low vision for recommendations on local
resources to produce braille materials. Always have braille material and
signs checked by an experienced braille reader.
100 Chapter 5
Computers, Web Sites and E-mail
Computer technologies are essential tools of communication in our daily
lives. The Internet, e-mail and Web sites are used for information, points
of sales, educational tools, and are an integral part of the workplace. The
arts and humanities must be committed to making sure that these tools
are accessible. If an organization uses the Internet or its Web site, for
example, to provide information or sell tickets, it cannot exclude people
There are many ways in which technology has been adapted for people
who are blind or have low vision as well as people with limited mobility.
Most commonly, screen reading software "reads aloud" the text information
displayed on the screen — a word processing document, a Web page, an
e-mail message. A touch screen on a computer-enhanced display with a
lot of text might have an option for "sound off" or "sound on" so that an
individual could opt to hear what others see and read on the screen.
Web sites can be designed with built-in accessible features.
Many people who are legally blind or have low vision can read large
print. Large print documents are easy to produce using a scaleable,
non-italic, sans serif font (such as Helvetica or Arial) in 14 to 18 point
size with a space and a half between lines. For effective exhibit labels
and displays, print should be a minimum of 24 points or larger, depending
upon the distance from which people must read the print.
This is 12 point Helvetica type.
This is 14 point Helvetica type.
This is 16 point Helvetica type.
This is 18 point Helvetica type.
This is 24 point Helvetica type.
Helvetica Type Font Sizes
"It is not, in my view just straight-forward access to objects that is
important but the whole experience. There is no substitute for exploring
the size, shape and smell say of a steam locomotive, the layout of a
castle or the shape, the size and intricacy of a carved wooden panel,
the sounds of a creaking wooden floor or handling a nautilus shell."
Ken Howarth, Heritage Recording, United Kingdom
Effective Communication and Program Access 101
A 70 percent minimum contrast (black on white is 100 percent), between the
print and the paper is critical for best results. Avoid using bright or glossy
white paper because it produces glare, or the enlargement option on a
photocopier, which usually yields inconsistent and distorted font sizes
and blurry copies.
If braille or recorded materials are not available, designate someone to
read information aloud to people who are blind or have low vision. This is
usually effective for short meetings, such as a panel meeting or review
session, if the material to be read is not lengthy.
Tactile materials, raised line drawings and diagrams, models and maps,
such as scale models of buildings, exhibit layouts or stage settings
provide orienting information to someone who is blind or has low vision.
Organizations can use models to reproduce objects, artifacts and exhibit
pieces that are too large, too delicate, too old or too valuable to handle.
Consider the following when creating tactile maps, models and
• Size • Original textures
• Shape • Detail
• Scale • Orientation
Another matter to consider when producing touchable materials is to
select items that convey the complex theme of the exhibit or environment.
For instance, if the exhibit is about quilts, but a doll happens to be in the
exhibit, providing touchable quilts, rather than replicating the doll, might
be more appropriate. The key is to avoid random object availability. Involve
the curator in selecting tactile items that are significant.
"If touching weren't such a good thing, they wouldn't have to put
up all the signs that say 'Don't touch.'"
Ray Bloomer, Director of Education & Technical Assistance,
National Center on Accessibility
102 Chapter 5
Try to incorporate tactile experiences as a part of the general environment
or exhibition. Signage and placement of items indicate what may or may not
be touched. Many visitors will benefit from tactile experiences — those who
are blind or have low vision, have different learning styles and learn from
touching and handling things.
Touch tours may be developed to enhance the experience of visitors
and patrons who are blind or have low vision. Plan the tour so that
the visitor has the opportunity to experience things that represent the
central themes of the exhibit or environment. Train docents and tour
guides to give clear and concise descriptions along with providing tactile
and other sensory experiences.
For People with Hearing or Speech
People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have a range of hearing loss. Some
people are congenitally deaf while others lose their hearing later in life. The
diversity of this community is reflected in the variety of ways available to
make audible information accessible.
Many communication access improvements are inexpensive and easy to
implement. Useful communication tools may be as simple as providing
paper and pencil for writing brief messages. Include a specific person for
whom the organization will be providing communication aids, such as an
employee or a conference attendee, in determining the type of auxiliary aid
that will provide the most effective communication.
Assistive Listening Systems
Assistive listening systems (ALS), in most cases, must be provided for
assembly areas where audible communication is integral to the use
of the space (concert and lecture halls, live theaters, movie theaters,
"Advances in technology have ... contributed to the arts by making
communications, documentation and production tasks easier to perform.
Computer software including computer-aided design, three-dimensional
modeling, graphic design, authoring software (in all disciplines), programmed
learning, distance learning, the Internet, voice-recognition and voice synthesis
systems, as well as other forms of computer and telecommunications
technology have provided incredible new opportunities for people with all
types of disabilities to be creative and to communicate more effectively."
Ron Mace, architect, FAIA
Effective Communication and Program Access
meeting rooms). Accessibility standards require permanently
installed systems if (1) an assembly area accommodates at
least 50 persons or has an audio-amplification system, and
(2) has fixed seating. Other assembly areas may permanently
install an ALS or provide a portable system. The minimum
number of receivers available must be equal to four percent
of the total number of seats, but not less than two receivers.
Signage must tell patrons that a listening system is available.
An assistive listening system (ALS)
minimizes background noise, reduces
the effect of distance and overrides
poor acoustics. There are three basic
types of ALS technologies: audio loop,
FM systems and infrared systems.
Please Ask at
Sign for ALS
fc\ \ Headset
Looped Area (Antenna)
• Audio loop systems work by
transmitting an electromagnetic
field to a receiver or directly to
an individual's hearing aid. These
are often used in small classrooms,
lecture halls or conference rooms.
The audio loop is usually a
permanently installed system.
• FM systems work by transmitting
radio waves to receivers. They
are commonly used in classrooms,
movie and live theaters, large
arenas and convention halls.
FM systems can be portable
or permanently installed.
• Infrared systems work by
transmitting sound via light waves
to receivers worn by users. They
are commonly used in courtrooms, movie and live theaters, convention
halls and lecture halls. Infrared systems can be portable but tend to be
The receivers worn by the user must have an output jack to accommodate
attachments such as monaural or binaural earpieces, induction neck loops and
cochlear implant adapters. The type of attachment required by individuals
depends on the severity of their hearing loss and whether they want to use
Transmitter with Antenna
Assistive Listening Systems
the receiver with or without their hearing aid. Provide an assortment of
attachments so that patrons may choose the options that best suit them.
The same equipment used for an assistive listening system may be used
to provide audio description for people who are blind or have low vision.
Multi-channel versions of these systems can also be used to deliver
simultaneous translations from one language into multiple languages,
or one channel could be used for an ALS and another channel used for
Captioning is the visual display of spoken material. Captioning should
also identify who is speaking and indicate non-verbal cues such as sound
effects, laughter and music. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing,
who do not know sign language and cannot use assistive listening systems
will benefit from captioning.
Open Captioning is always visible, preferred by most people and
much more user-friendly. With open captioning there are no buttons
to push and it is less likely to be subject to technical difficulties and
mechanical breakdown. Open captioning also benefits children
learning to read, people learning English as a second language,
as well as the general public in a noisy environment.
Closed Captioning allows the display of captions to be either on
or off. Closed captioning is frequently used for television broadcasts,
videotapes and DVDs. Cultural organizations often use closed
captioning for video presentations with a sign next to the video
display stating, "Press the button to view this video with captioning."
to the panel
Effective Communication and Program Access 105
Computer-Aided Realtime Reporting (CART)
Captioning for live performances, lectures, presentations and meetings
is sometimes called CART or Computer-Aided Realtime Reporting.
Technology changes rapidly, but current CART uses technology developed
for the courtroom. Realtime reporters type in a shorthand that specialized
computer software instantly translates into full English words and sentences.
Then a video monitor, projection screen or LED sign displays the text almost
simultaneously. In a small meeting where the system is used by only one
individual all that is needed is a laptop computer or two laptops linked
together so that what is being typed on one shows up on the screen of
People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing use a variety of communication
methods. Many people who are deaf or who lose their hearing use
American Sign Language (ASL) and are very proud of the deaf culture
that accompanies the use of ASL. American Sign Language is a
complete language, with its own grammatical structure and syntax.
Other communication methods include Cued Speech, Manually Coded
English, Pidgin Sign English (PSE) and Signed Exact English (SEE).
Someone who knows and understands ASL may not understand SEE or
Cued Speech and vice versa. Other deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals may
use speechreading (commonly known as lipreading). To ensure effective
communication, consult the person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing on their
People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may request interpreting
services to ensure full participation in events, meetings and
conversations. Interpreters will interpret between spoken English
and American Sign Language (ASL), Manually Coded English, or
Several interpreters may be needed for long programs. The average time
a person can comfortably interpret is about 45 minutes. Most interpreters
in lecture, workshop and meeting situations work in teams of two and trade
places every 20 minutes. In a theatrical or performance setting, two or more
interpreters typically work at the same time to convey a sense of dialogue
/l Good, direct, nonglare
light on interpreter
Provide a neutral backdrop
approximately 12 feet wide
Good, direct, nonglare
light on interpreter
Provide a neutral backdrop
approximately 12 feet wide
A common location for an interpreter
in a classroom, meeting or lecture is
at the end of the speakers' table or
beside the speaker. In a theatrical
setting the best placement of
interpreters will vary depending on the
performance and the size and shape
of the theater. Illuminate the interpreter
with light focused on the interpreter's
face and upper body and angled to
reduce the amount of shadowing on
the interpreter's face.
To assure the availability of a qualified
interpreter, request the service as soon
as the meeting or event is scheduled.
Interpreter fees vary from region to
region. Interpreters usually charge by
the hour with a two-hour minimum;
sometimes they will negotiate a flat
fee, especially for theatrical or
A word of caution: someone who
knows sign language, but is not a
certified or qualified interpreter may
not adequately translate, the message
or provide effective communication.
Speechreading and Oral Interpreters
Speechreading (often called lipreading) is the ability to perceive speech by
watching the movements of a speaker's mouth; observing all other visible
clues including facial expressions and gestures; and using the context of the
message and the situation. According to the National Association of the
Deaf, on the average, even the best speechreaders only understand 25
percent of what is said. Do not assume that someone can speechread.
To effectively speechread, however, individuals must have an unobstructed,
well lit view of the speaker's face. Speechreading is most effective one-on-
one. It is not effective in group situations, at large meetings or where the
speechreader is seated or standing far away from the person speaking.
People who speechread may ask to be seated close to the speaker or the
stage to improve their ability to understand what is being presented. Some
speechreaders use oral interpreters who use clear articulation, facial
Effective Communication and Program Access
expressions and natural gestures to silently mouth the speaker's words,
conveying both the message and the emotion.
TTYs are text-based telephones used by people with hearing or
speech disabilities to communicate with other TTY users. The first
text telephones were teletypewriters, hence the nickname "TTY."
Today's TTYs are small, lightweight
electronic devices with a keyboard,
a visual display and/or a printer
connected to a telephone line.
TTY and TTY Hooked Up
Equip ticket offices with a TTY so
that patrons who are deaf or hard-
of-hearing may call to order tickets
or get information. Advertise the
TTY number along with other
ticket office numbers.
If there are public phones available,
these should not only be wheelchair
accessible, but there should also be
provisions made for the public to
have access to a TTY. There are
specific requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility
Guidelines (ADAAG) for the number of public TTYs required and phones
requiring amplifiers or individualized volume controls when there are
public pay phones available (ADAAG 4.1.3).
Telecommunication Relay Services
Telecommunication Relay Services allow a person using a TTY to
communicate with someone who uses a voice telephone by calling
through a relay operator. A trained operator speaks the words typed by
a TTY user and types the words spoken by a voice telephone user.
Because of the low cost of a TTY and the efficiency and desirability of
one-to-one communication, cultural organizations that conduct a high
volume of business by phone or who have staff or volunteers who are
deaf, should consider making themselves directly accessible through
TTYs rather than relying on relay services. After October 1, 2001, dialing
71 1 anywhere in the United States will connect the caller to a relay
operator who will place a voice or TTY call for the caller.
108 Chapter 5
Many telephones come equipped with a volume control switch or
amplifier. When requested, local telephone companies can install
amplification devices on pay phones. Portable amplifiers for individual
use are also available.
For People with Cognitive Disabilities
The most important service is to provide clear information. People with
cognitive disabilities especially appreciate the use of graphic symbols, color
and other supplements to clarify the meaning of verbal information. For
example, illustrations next to written instructions are easier to comprehend
by someone who does not read well and also can be useful to foreign
language speakers. Train all staff and volunteers to provide information
clearly and to have patience with people who might not understand the
first way it is presented.
Some people who have developmental or cognitive disabilities may be
extremely sensitive to the environment around them. Environments that are
too noisy or have too much activity may cause the individual to lose focus or
become distracted. Creating areas or zones that are quieter and have fewer
visual distractions may enhance some visitors' ability to appreciate an
exhibit, presentation or activity.
Flexibility and Language
Adapting to the needs of the individual visitor or patron is important. If
someone has difficulty understanding or appears distracted, try a different
way of presenting the information. These tips may help:
Focus on one topic.
Keep remarks short.
Show or demonstrate instead of giving detailed verbal or written
descriptions, directions and information.
Rephrase, simplify or break down concepts into smaller components
Make associations with already familiar ideas and objects.
Provide objects that people can touch and that appeal to as many
senses as possible.
Use pictures and other visual aids.
Inform people before transitions to a new location or program.
Respond to interest or lack of it.
Effective Communication and Program Access
Pictures can often supplement or substitute for written material. Many ideas
can be explained more clearly if accompanied by illustrations. Signs for
restrooms, telephones and first aid should use standardized pictographs or
110 Chapter 5
Braille and Large Print
National Library Service for the Blind and Physically
Library of Congress
1291 Taylor Street, NW
Washington, DC 20542
(202) 707-5100 voice I
(202) 707-0744 TTY j
(800) 424-8567 voice
"Making Text Legible: Designing for People with Partial Sight"
"Effective Color Contrast: Designing for People with Partial Sight and
Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute
1 1 1 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022-1202
(212) 821-9200 voice
(212) 821 -971 3 TTY
(212) 821-9707 fax
(800) 829-0500 voice
Preparing Tactile Materials
Tactile Access to Education for Visually Impaired Students
1149 South Campus Courts, Building E
West Lafayette, IN 47907-1149
(765) 496-2856 voice
(765) 496-3423 fax
National Centre for Tactile Diagrams
University of Hertfordshire
Hatfield, Herts, AL10 9AB, UK
44 1707 286 348 voice
44 1707 285 059 fax
Effective Communication and Program Access 111
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Web Accessibility
W3C has established guidelines for accessible Web sites.
World Wide Web Consortium
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Laboratory for Computer Science
200 Technology Square
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 253-2613 voice
(617) 258-5999 fax
Assistive Listening Devices
Self Help for Hard of Hearing People, Inc. (SHHH)
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200
Bethesda, MD 20814
(301) 657-2249 TTY
(301) 913-9413 fax
Technical Assistance Bulletins
The Access Board has three technical bulletins on assistive listening
systems — one for consumers, one for installers and one for providers.
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1 111
(202) 272-5434 voice
(202) 272-5449 TTY
(202) 272-5447 fax
(800) 872-2253 voice
(800) 993-2822 TTY
112 Chapter 5
"Assistive Listening Devices for People With Hearing Loss:
A Guide for Performing Arts Settings"
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20566-0001
(202) 416-8727 voice
(202) 416-8728 TTY
Computer-Aided Realtime Reporting (CART)
National Court Reporters Association
Contact local court reporting agencies, interpreting agencies or other
organizations serving people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.
National Court Reporters Association
8224 Old Courthouse Road
Vienna, VA 22182-3808
(703) 556-6272 voice
(703) 556-6289 TTY
(703) 556-6291 fax
(800) 272-6272 voice
Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA)
1 145 Westgate Street, Suite 206
Oak Park, IL 60301
(877) 348-7537 voice/fax
(708) 358-01 35 TTY
Sign Language Interpreters
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Certification means that an interpreter was evaluated according to
the National Evaluation System for Interpreters. This certification
guarantees an interpreter's signing skills. The Registry of Interpreters
for the Deaf issues an annual "Regional Directory of Services for
Deaf Persons" that lists all services available to people who are
deaf including a roster of certified interpreters.
Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
8630 Fenton Street, Suite 324
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 608-0508 fax
Heard Museum. Phoenix, AZ: Sculpture by Michael Naranjo. visitor
Accessibility in Arts and
Humanities and arts organizations face new challenges and opportunities
in accessibility as we use the Internet, move outside traditional spaces and
experiment with representing our culture. In surveying a cultural program,
concern focuses on its location and content. This chapter addresses many
situations and issues that are common to the arts and humanities.
Administrators of arts and humanities programs must address three
1. Ensure that all programs, activities and events are
accessible to everyone, not just the audience and visitors.
Traditionally, the focus of accessibility has been on the audience, patron
or visitor when, in fact, people with disabilities are also involved with the
organization as staff, board and panel members, designers, volunteers,
applicants, performers, writers, teachers, technicians, docents, artists
and administrators. Do not limit accessibility issues and efforts to the
front-of-house or to public areas.
2. Carefully evaluate each facility and activity
for accessibility in cooperation with knowledgeable
individuals with disabilities.
Routinely survey and evaluate all facilities and activities to ensure
accessibility. Consult access advisory committee members: people who use
wheelchairs (manual and electric), scooters, crutches or walkers; someone
who is blind or has low vision; someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing; and
someone who has a developmental disability, a learning disability or other
cognitive disability. Each individual has a unique perspective and helps to
ensure a comprehensive view of the facilities and programs.
116 Chapter 6
3. Make certain that knowledgeable individuals with
disabilities help with designing and reviewing all policies,
procedures and practices.
Clearly thought-out policies and procedures go hand-in-hand with well
constructed accessible programs, effective communication and physical
access. Plainly stated policies and procedures help staff members and
volunteers carry out an organization's plan.
For example: an organization has installed an assistive listening system
in the auditorium, a space normally used to show a video documentary
and occasionally used for a small lecture series. The new policy will state,
"Whenever there is programming of any kind in the auditorium, the assistive
listening system will be turned on and be available for use."
The new procedures will include activating the system whenever the video
is shown, making sure the system is set up and running during lectures or
other events, having the assistive listening receivers properly maintained
(clean earpieces, fresh batteries) and handing out the receivers from the
information booth just outside the auditorium, starting a half hour before
Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities
Museums, Exhibitions and Visual Arts
People of short stature or who use
various mobility aids (scooters,
wheelchairs, canes and walkers)
as well as people who have low
vision must be able to approach and
comfortably view the contents and
labels of display cases whether they
are wall-mounted or free-standing.
An accessible route should allow
visitors to get close to the display
and provide clear floor space
(minimum of 30 inches wide by
48 inches long) beside each display.
Display Case Short
Display Case Tall
Display Case Wall Mount
The top of free-standing display cases with pedestal bases or legs should
be 33 to 40 inches above the floor. If, however, one must look into the case
to see an object such as an open book or the inside of a bowl, the top of
the display case must be no more than 36 inches above the floor. A display
case on legs must have a cane-detectable barrier no higher than 27 inches
above the floor.
Pay careful attention to making labels legible. Take into consideration
placement (distance from the reader), type size, fonts and contrast. Type
size varies depending on the distance from which the label will be read.
Fonts should be sans serif, such as Arial or Helvetica, with easily
recognizable characters. Contrast between the typeface and its background
should be strong. Although black on white provides the highest possible
contrast, avoid "bright whites" that produce glare.
Consider alternative methods to deliver label information to people who
do not read traditional print. Guides and docents may read label information
as they give tours, or random-access digital playback devices can provide
audio access to label text or other printed information that accompanies
Comfortable Viewing Zone
Both standing and seated people are comfortable viewing large print from
19 inches away when it is between 48 and 67 inches above the floor.
Centering signs and labels at 54 inches above the floor works well.
Sighted people can generally read 5/8 inch letters with good contrast at a
distance of more than six feet. Sighted people can read smaller type sizes
customarily used in exhibition displays at a distance of four feet if the material
is printed in maximum contrast.
Comfortable Viewing Zone
Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 119
For many individuals, poor lighting can make an exhibit completely
inaccessible. Be sure that lighting is adequate and avoid abrupt changes
in lighting levels and colors. Place lighting instruments carefully so that
reflections and glare do not obscure objects whether the visitor is standing,
seated or of short stature. Keep shadows off artwork, labels, display cases,
objects and pathways. Provide photographs, illustrations or copies of items
that are too fragile to be exposed to strong lighting.
Alternate Formats and Exhibit Content
Make catalogues, brochures, programs and other print materials available
to people who do not use traditional print. A variety of alternate formats
exist, such as audiocassette tapes, the Internet, computer disks, large
print or braille.
Make any visual content audible and vice versa. Videos should have both
captioning and audio description. Written versions of audio tours should be
available. Make content and educational programming accessible to people
with different kinds of learning styles.
Include tactile components in exhibits. Contemporary but real artifacts (for
example, pieces of hand-woven cloth) or reproductions and models add
immensely to all visitors' comprehension and understanding. Build small
scale models of large objects such as dinosaurs, ships' hulls or tombs.
Make these tactile items available to everyone by building them into an
exhibit, or include them in a kit that museum staff members or docents
use for general visitor education.
Work with curators to make reasonable decisions about which objects may
be touched and how. Think about participatory exhibitions as a regular
feature of a museum or exhibit. Appeal to people's senses — through touch,
hearing, sight and smell. These multi-sensory experiences can enhance the
experience for everyone.
Equipment and Controls
Controls and switches should not require pinching, grasping or fine motor
control to operate. Follow the closed-fist standard — a person with a closed
fist should be able to use the object or control. To test the standard, try
turning a round doorknob, pushing a lever, typing on a keyboard, switching
on a light, grasping a handle or operating a touch-screen with fists closed.
rocker touch panel
Controls and Switches
Examine interactive exhibits and activities to ensure that
individuals with a range of abilities can operate all controls.
The controls must be within reach of a person who is short or
seated. Operable parts should be placed between 15 inches
and 48 inches from the floor. Controls or switches should be
easy to reach and easy to find. If necessary, relocate the control
or add a second switch.
Controls and interactive exhibits that give feedback should be
both audible and visual. For example, if identifying the right
answer on a quiz causes a bell to ring, also include a visual
cue such as a blinking light.
In general, the areas, items and information included in tours
should be available to everyone. Docents and tour guides should
receive ongoing training on how to interact appropriately and how
to offer assistance to people with disabilities or older visitors.
Invite people with disabilities from the community and/or advisory
committee to talk to docents and tour guides about basic disability
etiquette, how to communicate, and "what to do" and "what not to
do" in order to make everyone feel more comfortable.
The tour route should meet all the requirements for an accessible route or
pathway. A person who uses a wheelchair should be able to get in and out
of buildings, rooms, and sections, and move along the tour route without
encountering steps, curbs, turnstiles, narrow doors, rough or uneven
surfaces or other barriers. Include seating with armrests for people who walk
with difficulty or tire easily. Design a flexible route so those who cannot
complete the whole tour can easily return to the start or rest while others
complete a segment of the route.
The tour route must be well lit and free from hazards such as objects that
protrude into the path of travel (display cases hung from walls), things that
hang low overhead (tree branches or wall sconces), items that might trip
people (wires or uneven changes in surface level) or other barriers that
might be particularly dangerous.
Train docents and tour guides to orient people who are blind or have low
vision to the spaces they will encounter along the tour by describing the size
or dimensions of rooms, spaces and hallways. Clear concise descriptions
Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 121
of objects that highlight shape, size, texture and colors are also useful.
A docent or guide can deliver a more formal audio description tour by
memorizing or reading from a script. Visitors who are blind or have low
vision may take self-guided tours by using an audio description tour on
audiocassette or a random access digital playback system.
Teach docents and tour guides to feel comfortable working with sign
language interpreters. Remember to walk, stop and then talk. Face the
individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing to facilitate speechreading.
Give participants time to look at objects after the interpreter has finished
interpreting the oral presentation. Portable assistive listening systems can
also help people who are hard-of-hearing enjoy a tour. As a last resort,
providing a printed copy of the tour script may help.
Flexibility is an essential skill for a docent or tour guide. Applying the
concepts mentioned above, not overloading people with more information
than they can handle, and adapting content to the learning level of the
participants makes a tour better for everyone. Guides should be flexible
and patient, and avoid talking down to or patronizing visitors. Remember
that showing and experiencing is frequently better than lecturing.
Performing Arts and Lectures
The ticket office is a place where communication is particularly important
and where patrons frequently get their first impression of the organization.
The ability to purchase tickets and obtain information must be available to
everyone, whether face-to-face with ticket office staff at the window, over
the phone, using a TTY or through the organization's Web site.
Ticket Prices and Policies
Free or reduced admission fees for people with disabilities are not required.
There are several good reasons, however, to consider a discounted
admission policy. One reason is to bring a new audience into the facility
by giving people the opportunity to try a new experience with minimum
financial risk. Further, people on fixed incomes, including retirees,
appreciate discounted tickets.
Another reason is to compensate for lack of equal access or limited choice.
For example, if the organization is located in a historic structure and cannot
create integrated and dispersed seating and the only accessible seating is
located in the most expensive area, or if choice is limited (accessible seating
is clustered in the first or last row), the organization should have a policy of
selling the accessible seating at the least expensive ticket price.
Aisle Space for One
Back-Row Space for One
Front Row Space for One
front row wheelchair position
omit two chairs, 33" x 46" dear floor space
position, 33" x 60"
clear floor space
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66" x 46" clear floorspace
Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 123
Wheelchair-accessible seating spaces must be integrated and dispersed —
available near the front, the back, the middle, sides and center, in the
orchestra, in balconies and in boxes. Design seating to allow people using
wheelchairs, scooters or other mobility aids to sit with their friends and
family. If wheelchair users choose to transfer to theater seats, their
wheelchairs should remain next to them so that they may move about, as
needed, like everyone else.
Listed below are general guidelines from ADAAG on wheelchair accessible
seating. Remember, these are minimum requirements; organizations can
always provide more and better accessible seating:
• Size: Each wheelchair location must be a minimum of 33 inches wide
and 48 inches deep for forward or rear access and 33 inches wide by
60 inches deep for side access. The space must be level (not sloped),
provide maneuvering clearances (room to pull in and out) and allow the
individual to face the stage without sitting sideways or twisting. Sightlines
must be unobstructed.
• Placement: Wheelchair locations must be integrated and dispersed
throughout the auditorium seating area with a seat for a companion
next to each wheelchair accessible location.
• Removable armrests: One percent of the seats must have removable or
• Number: The minimum number of wheelchair locations required is based
on overall seating capacity of the venue.
The following are the two sets of minimum guidelines for accessible seating.
It is recommended that organizations aim to use the highest possible
standard or, better yet, exceed the standard.
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)
for Seating Requirements
Seating Capacity Minimum Number of Required
in Assembly Area Wheelchair Locations
4 to 25 1
26 to 50 2
51 to 300 4
301 to 500 6
over 500 six plus one additional
space for each total seating
capacity increase of 100
Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) for
Capacity of Seating Minimum Number of Required
& Assembly Areas Wheelchair Locations
50 to 75
76 to 100
101 to 150
151 to 200
201 to 300
301 to 400
401 to 500
501 to 1,000
2 percent of total.
20 plus 1 for each 100 over 1,000.
Some people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may request seats near the
front so they can easily see interpreters, captioning or use speechreading.
However, with infrared and FM assistive listening systems, individuals who
are hard-of-hearing can usually sit anywhere in the theater.
People who are blind or have low vision also may want seats near the front
where visibility is best or seats near the center where the sound is best.
Listen carefully to requests made by patrons to determine what will best
suit their needs. Guide dogs and other service animals stay with their
owners at all times.
Guide Dog in Theater
Guide Dogs and Other Service Animals
The ADA and laws in every state permit guide dogs and
service animals anywhere the general public is allowed,
including taxis and buses, restaurants, theaters, stores,
hotels, apartment and office buildings. These animals
enhance independence for people with disabilities by
reducing reliance on other people. Service animals are
trained to perform tasks such as guiding someone around
obstacles, pulling a wheelchair, alerting when the phone or
doorbell rings, retrieving dropped objects and opening doors.
Print materials, such as playbills or program books, must be
available in alternate formats such as large print, braille or
audiocassette recording. Staff members and volunteers need
Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 125
to know what is available, where these items are kept and how to provide
them. Signage should inform patrons about the availability of print materials
in alternate formats.
Assistive Listening Systems and Audio Description
Audio description: Audio description is usually delivered live, with the possible
exception of pre-show, prerecorded "program notes," for people who are
blind or have low vision.
Assistive listening systems: Most theaters, concert halls and lecture halls
must have equipment to enhance sound for people who are hard-of-hearing.
The most common systems used for these two accommodations are FM
and infrared. Be sure to carefully maintain the equipment. Keep it clean
(receivers, earphones) and batteries charged or replaced regularly.
Staff or volunteers who distribute the equipment must be trained to
understand how it works and be able to explain it to patrons. Be sure that
staff understands the different functions of the equipment since the same
or almost identical equipment is used for both assistive listening and audio
description. The equipment should be easy to find and convenient to obtain.
Post signs using the appropriate icons to announce the availability of these
During performances, captioning or CART (computer aided realtime
reporting), which benefits older adults and those who do not know sign
language, can be displayed on a video monitor, projection screen or LED
sign displays. Live performance venues usually use the LED sign because it
releases the least amount of light into the theater. Hire a qualified captioner,
provide proper placement of the captioning equipment and the display
device and supply appropriate seating for those using the captions.
Some theaters have experimented with a system that uses a standard laptop
computer, an ordinary word processing program and specialized software
that displays the pre-entered text of a script on an LED. During the
performance a person uses the laptop to move the script forward in time
with the actors' delivery of the lines. Opera surtitle systems can also be used
to deliver captioning. WGBH in Boston has developed a system called the
Rear Window® Captioning System used by some movie and IMAX theaters.
Sign Language Interpretation
Determine where to place interpreters for performances and lectures as far in
advance as possible. In determining the best position, include the interpreters
and a patron or knowledgeable person who is deaf. The style of interpreting
for Deaf Patrons
Interpreter Position in Theaters
selected must provide effective
communication for the audience and mesh
with the artistic concept of the production.
Place the interpreters to the side or front
of the action in the field of vision of
audience members. Depending upon
the configuration of the theater and the
scenery, the interpreters may be standing
or sitting together on stage, at the side of
the stage or just below the stage in the
audience portion of the theater. Carefully
consider these issues:
• Audience members must be able to
clearly and comfortably see the
interpreter and the stage simultaneously.
• Light on the interpreters should be
neither too dim nor too bright and
not cast shadows on the interpreters'
faces or torsos.
• Select qualified, and preferably certified,
interpreters who are familiar with
theatrical material. Not all interpreters
may be qualified or comfortable with
musicals or Shakespeare.
• Carefully prepare contracts for interpreters
that outline how much they will be paid,
what they will be expected to do (prepare
for the performance, arrive on time, dress
professionally) and what the organization
will provide (copies of scripts, tickets to
preview the performance, complimentary
"Because the motion picture and television industry has a powerful
impact on the shaping of public opinion, many feel it also has a
responsibility to portray persons with disabilities accurately and
sensitively. The media has an unchallenged ability to break down
invisible barriers, altering those attitudes that can be the most
formidable obstacles to a person with a disability's profitable
interactions with and contributions to society."
Karen G. Littman, President, Morphonix, San Rafael, CA
Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 127
Touch tours before a performance are another option for providing visual
information about stage sets, costumes, performance areas and props.
Signage should announce the availability of touch tours.
Contractual Language for Accessibility
Contracts should clearly outline who will be responsible for accessibility. For
example, a performing arts company on tour should be just as accessible
to audience, performers and staff as when at the home facility. Because the
responsibility for compliance falls equally on the performing arts troupe and
on the facilities in which it performs, clearly spell out who will be responsible
for ensuring physical and programmatic access and who will be responsible
for providing effective communication.
i: Film, Video, Radio, Television,
Web sites and the Internet
Media arts programs involve many different activities in the production,
distribution, exhibition or broadcast of films, videos, television, radio, Internet
media and other mixed media or multimedia. In addition, media arts may
involve workshops, conferences, seminars, distance education programs,
lectures, residencies or working space for independent artists, as well as
the production of research and newsletters.
The media arts are a particularly powerful tool for influencing how society
sees itself. Through exhibition and broadcast, a media producer conveys
ideas and values that would not otherwise reach a wide circulation.
Including people with disabilities in productions can change attitudes.
Persistent casting, writing and presentation of people with disabilities and
older adults in everyday roles focusing not on disability or age, but on the
person, can expand their public image. In addition, seeing professionals with
"Why do you always have to use our condition as reason for inspiration?
I don't always want to be inspiring. I just want to be me and accepted like
everyone else. Whether I am liked or disliked should be based on who I
am as a person, not who I am as a physical entity. I want people to loathe
my character sometimes. I want to play murderers, kidnappers or
whatever. If you are going to show us as equals, then you'll have to make
room for all those situations. I would like to play roles that are written
regardless of disability. That's my ultimate goal, to eliminate the necessity
to even mention disability."
Alan Toy, actor
128 Chapter 6
disabilities working in all aspects of the arts and humanities increases public
awareness of people with disabilities in realistic terms, as capable members
of society who pursue interesting and creative employment.
When going on location, filmmakers and producers of television, radio and
video programs must consider what accommodations will need to be made
so that people with disabilities or who are older can participate. Include the
actors, production crew and others in determining what accommodations
they may need.
Television, film, video and the Internet are pervasive elements in our culture.
Building accessibility into media products allows everyone to enjoy them. Be
sure to incorporate captioning and audio or video description during the
production of such products.
Captioning for film, video and television is most effective when technical
concerns are taken into account at the earliest planning stage. During
production, attention must be given to contrast, letter size, presentation rate
and line length. When producing audio-visual materials, be sure to budget
for captioning, and hire professionals or acquire the newest captioning
The National Endowment for the Arts requires of its grant applicants that
"broadcast projects and educational/interpretive videos must be closed or
open captioned." The National Endowment for the Humanities requires that
"television and film projects produced under an NEH grant must have closed
captioning. Costs for this should be included in the production budget."
Computer Technology and the Internet
New technologies enable people with disabilities to be more independent
and productive in the workplace. People who are blind or have low vision
can benefit from screen reading software and computerized speech
synthesizers. A person with limited motor movement can benefit from
modified keyboards, trackballs and ultrasonic pointers or voice recognition.
People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can use visual icons in place of
sounds and captioning for audio content.
"The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone
regardless of disability is an essential aspect."
Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web
Accessibility in- Arts and Humanities Activities 129
Taking advantage of the newest technologies and adaptive technologies
allows cultural organizations to make Web sites as well as programs and
events more accessible.
Section 508 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act applies to all federal agencies
when they develop, procure, maintain or use electronic or information
technology. Federal agencies must ensure that this technology is accessible
to employees and members of the public with disabilities to the extent that
it does not pose an "undue burden." Under standards published by the
Access Board on December 21, 2000, the federal government will be in the
forefront in ensuring access to electronic and information technology. These
standards, the first of their kind in the federal sector, cover various means of
disseminating information, including computers software and electronic office
equipment. They provide criteria that spell out what makes these products
accessible to people with disabilities, including those with vision, hearing
and mobility loss.
Guidelines to Help Ensure Web Accessibility For Everyone
• Start with understandably written, clearly presented information.
• Make meaning independent of color and employ color, fonts and
• Employ a consistent layout and include a site map.
• Label forms and frames clearly.
Use these evaluation tools and others like them to analyze Web page
• Bobby at www.cast.org/bobby
• LIFT at www.usablenet.com
• InSight and InFocus at www.ssbtechnologies.com
Assuring that Web sites are available to:
People who are Blind or have Low Vision
• Supply descriptive text attributes (i.e., HTML tags "alt" and "longdesc")
for images, links, graphs, charts, tables and maps.
• Convert PDF files to text (some screen readers can't read PDF files).
• Provide audio to describe videos.
People who are Deaf or Hard-of-hearing
• Offer text or visual cues for all auditory information (voice, sounds, etc.).
• Caption videos.
People who have Motor Impairments
• Design easy site navigation (menu bar on each page, limit the number
of clicks needed to navigate through the site, etc.).
• Allow keyboard commands for those who cannot use a mouse.
Artist with Disability
Literary activities include creating, publishing, promoting,
distributing and presenting literature. In addition, activities
may involve graphic arts productions, printing, readings,
workshops, exhibits and book fairs, as well as writing,
translation and editing. These activities may take place in
a variety of locations, ranging from printing shops to
classrooms to shopping malls.
Considering accessibility becomes necessary when the work
of literary art becomes public, is produced in a place of public
accommodation, or is part of an educational program or
conference. A poetry reading in a cafe, a book fair in a church
social hall, a workshop at a community college, a presentation by an author
at a bookstore or an exhibition in a local library must be accessible because
these are all places of public accommodation.
Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 131
"Arts Accessibility Checklist"
National Endowment for the Arts
Office for AccessAbility
1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20506
(202) 682-5532 voice
(202) 682-5496 TTY
(202) 682-5715 fax
"Museum Accessibility Checklist for Visitors who are
Deaf or Hard of Hearing"
Advocates for Better Communication
71 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10010-4162
(917) 305-7999 TTY
Labeling and Exhibit Design
"Everyone's Welcome: The Americans with
Disabilities Act and Museums"
and "Standards Manual for Signs and Labels"
American Association of Museums
1575 Eye Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 289-1818 voice
(202) 289-6578 fax
(202) 289-9127 bookstore
"Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Exhibition Design"
Smithsonian Accessibility Program
Arts and Industries Building
Room 1239 MRC 426
Washington, DC 20560
(202) 786-2942 voice
(202) 786-2414 TTY
(202) 786-2210 fax
132 Chapter 6
Tours for Visitors who are Blind or have Low Vision
"What Museum Guides Need to Know: Access for Blind and
Visually Impaired Visitors"
by Gerda Groff, with Laura Gardner
American Association of Museums
1575 Eye Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 289-1818 voice
(202) 289-6578 fax
"Reaching Out: A Creative Guide for Designing Cultural
Programs and Exhibits for Persons who are Blind or
by Elga Joffee and Mary Ann Siller
American Foundation for the Blind
1 1 Penn Plaza, Suite 300
New York, NY 10001
(212) 502-7600 voice
(800) 232-3044 voice
Captioning and Audio Description for Theater, Television,
Film and Video
Audio Description International
Audio Description International promotes Audio Description (AD)
through shared information, referrals, education, advocacy and the
implementation and development of the field. Members of ADI are
both professionals and amateur describers and AD consumers.
This Web site lists AD providers nationally and internationally.
Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 133
Media Access Group at WGBH
The Caption Center
Descriptive Video Service®
The Media Access Group at WGBH has been pioneering and
delivering accessible media for over 30 years through the Caption
Center and Descriptive Video Service®. Founded in 1972, The
Caption Center was the world's first captioning agency — pioneering
access to television for viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Founded in 1990, Descriptive Video Service® pioneered access to
television for viewers who are blind or visually impaired.
Media Access Group WGBH
125 Western Avenue
Boston, MA 02134
(617) 300-3600 voice/TTY
(617) 300-1020 fax
National Captioning Institute
For over 20 years the nonprofit National Captioning Institute has
provided a wide variety of services including captioning live and
prerecorded programming for broadcast and cable television
programs and commercials; home videos and DVD; and recently
started providing described video for people who are blind or
National Captioning Institute
1900 Gallows Road, Suite 3000
Vienna, VA 22182
(703) 917-7600 voice/TTY
(703) 917-9853 fax
"Technical Bulletin #8: Theatrical Movie Captioning
1331 F Street, NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004-1 1 1 1
(202) 272-5434 voice
(202) 272-5449 TTY
(202) 272-5447 fax
(800) 872-2253 voice
(800) 993-2822 TTY
134 Chapter 6
National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM)
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting/WGBH National Center for
Accessible Media (NCAM) is a research and development facility that
works to make media accessible.
The CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media
WGBH Educational Foundation
125 Western Avenue
Boston, MA 02134
(617) 300-3400 voice/TTY
(617) 300-1035 fax
Open Studio: The Arts Online
Provides Internet access and training to artists and nonprofit arts
organizations to ensure that the communications environment of the
21st century thrives as a source of creative excellence and diversity.
1800 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 638-5770 voice
(202) 638-5771 fax
Electronic and Information Technology
The Federal Information Technology Accessibility Initiative
Coordinated by U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), this
interagency effort offers technical assistance to individuals and
federal agencies on implementation of Section 508.
The Access Board
An independent federal agency that has numerous technical
assistance bulletins that address the Telecommunications Act and
Section 508 including:
"Bulletin#7: Access to Telecommunications"
"Section 504 Facts - Brochure"
To down load these documents and many more go to:
Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 135
Working with Actors with Disabilities
"Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Working
With Performers With Disabilities But Were Afraid To Ask"
Screen Actors Guild (SAG)
(212) 827-1433 (New York)
(323) 549-6643 (Los Angeles)
American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (AFTRA)
(212) 532-0800 (New York)
(323) 634-8100 (Los Angeles)
Actors Equity Association (AEA)
(212) 869-8530 (New York)
(323) 634-1750 (Los Angeles)
Cleveland Dancing Wheels, Cleveland, OH: "The Sorcerer's Apprentices" with
dancers Jennifer Sikora and Sabatino Verlessa
Meetings, Panels, Lectures
Many arts and humanities organizations conduct meetings, lectures,
conferences and panels. Making these accessible to people with disabilities
must be a priority. Any meetings that are open to the public must comply
with the provisions of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans
with Disabilities Act. Public meetings must be held in physically accessible
spaces and provide effective communication for people with disabilities and
who are older.
The following information is adapted with permission from the ERIC/OSEP
Special Project, the ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education,
the Council for Exceptional Children. Download the complete information brief
Choosing an Accessible Site
Always make a site visit before committing the organization to a facility. The
goal of the site visit is to select a conference setting that allows persons with a
disability or older patrons to move about the conference site freely and
independently and to participate in the program. Working with a local
independent living center or other access group to assist in evaluating the
accessibility of the site is highly recommended. The site visit should include
inspecting the space and amenities to be used during the conference, meeting
or lecture. Consider whether the distance and route between buildings, meeting
rooms and amenities will be easy to traverse. Verify the accessibility of any
outside entertainment or transportation services that will be used. Make certain
the staff of the hotel or conference center are trained to handle issues of
accessibility. Consider the following points in selecting a site:
• Is accessible parking and public transportation available?
• Are exterior pathways and main entrances accessible? This means a
participant will not encounter stairs, any sudden change of floor height
over 1/4 inch, slippery or unstable ground, doorways less than 32 inches
wide and objects obstructing walkways.
138 Chapter 7
Are directions to meeting rooms and amenities clearly posted at
entrances? Assigning staff to entrances to provide directions and
assistance to meeting participants is also useful.
Are interior pathways accessible? Take a look at the width of halls,
corridors and aisles. Check for level, stable surfaces.
Are restrooms, public telephones (including a TTY), water fountains and
sleeping rooms (if needed) accessible?
Is there adequate space for wheelchairs in meeting rooms, as well as at
conference and banquet tables?
Are tables and chairs set up to allow integrated and dispersed spaces for
people using wheelchairs?
Is the lighting adjustable and are all areas well lit?
Is the environment obstacle-free? This means free of protruding objects,
objects in the middle of pathways and trip hazards?
Are there large print, tactile directions for equipment, elevators and
restrooms? Check to see that elevator control panels have braille with
Are the emergency egress routes accessible and are there
Are registration and display tables no higher than 36 inches? Clipboards
can be made available as an alternate writing surface for persons of
short stature or with limited mobility.
Is there a tactile/visual map of conference area?
Don't forget about transportation for participants with disabilities. If the
organization is providing transportation for participants, it must be prepared
also to provide wheelchair accessible transportation. Likewise, if an
organization is sponsoring a festival and is operating courtesy shuttle buses
from remote parking locations, it must provide accessible shuttles or make
other arrangements to accommodate people who have limited mobility,
including those who use wheelchairs.
Promotion and Registration
Conference planners should arrange for all promotional
material to be available in alternative formats, such as
braille, large print, computer disk, e-mail or through
the Internet. Designate someone on staff to handle all
issues concerning accommodations for participants
during the meeting.
Meetings, Panels, Lectures and Conferences
In all conference material, including the
registration form and press release,
indicate that accommodations can be
made for a variety of needs. Here are
• "If you have a disability and may
require accommodation to fully
participate in this activity, please
check here. Someone from our
staff will contact you to discuss
your specific needs."
• "Accommodations for individuals
with disabilities will be provided
with at least three weeks advance
notice. Please check here or notify
(conference planner) to request
an accommodation at (phone)
• "Check here if you require: (insert a
checklist of accommodations such as
sign language interpreters,
wheelchair accessible seating.)"
Social Functions and Meals
When planning social functions and
meals, meeting planners should:
• Include personal assistants and interpreters in the estimated number
• Make adequate provisions for seating, allowing all participants to sit in
the same area. Do not place people using wheelchairs, or those who
use walkers or guide dogs, on the fringes of the dining area.
• Avoid buffet lines. They can be particularly difficult for persons with
mobility or vision loss. If buffet lines can't be avoided then, request the
catering service provide additional staff to assist attendees.
• Ensure that buffet/refreshment tables are no higher than 36 inches
or have staff available to assist upon request.
Registration Planning Information
If you need any of the following accommodations, please
indicate below and submit this form no later than (date
i.e., 3 weeks before event) so that staff will have
sufficient time to fulfill your request. Include your phone
number and/or e-mail so that we may contact you if more
details are needed.
□ Wheelchair Accessible Hotel Room
□ Assistive Listening System
□ Wheelchair Accessible Transportation
□ Oral Interpretation
□ Sign Interpretation
□ Print Material Recorded on Cassette
□ Large Print Materials
□ Dietary Restrictions (specify)
Example of access section of registration form
The meeting planner should work with invited speakers and presenters to
ensure that presentations are accessible to all people. Attention to the following
points will enhance the accessibility of conference presentations.
Select well lit and easily accessible meeting rooms.
Control background noise.
Choose a meeting room with good acoustics and an auxiliary
Arrange for multiple types of microphones: table, lapel and floor
microphones with horizontal booms or an assistant with a hand-held
microphone. Remember that presenters, interpreters and audience
members use microphones.
Establish unobstructed pathways to microphones for audience members'
questions and statements.
Discuss with each presenter, prior to the meeting, the importance of
developing a presentation that will be accessible to all participants.
Find out if a presenter requires an accommodation such as a ramp,
accessible podium, chair, interpreter or sighted guide. It is more
desirable to seat presenters at a table, but if a podium is being used, it
must have a detachable microphone for those who cannot or choose not
to use the podium.
Instruct presenters to speak in well-paced and well-modulated tones. It is
particularly important for presenters to monitor their rate of speech and
not speak too rapidly.
Table or lavalier
Floor Mike with 3oom
Drapery should not extend
behind table as it can tangle
wheelchairs, walkers, canes
sides of ramp
.... ^\ y^ Ramp slope max 1:12 ^^(K \
smooth, feathered edge
For People Who Are Blind or Have Some Vision Loss
Note that the items listed here may also increase accessibility for sighted
individuals with reading or learning disabilities.
• Orient participants to the site and layout of the spaces, identify the
location of amenities and exits. Provide transparent, raised-line maps of
conference area including braille or raised letters with corresponding
print layouts underneath. The raised-line, tactile maps should identify
meeting rooms, food services, restrooms, exits and other amenities.
Meetings, Panels, Lectures and Conferences 141
• Allow access to front row seats during meeting sessions.
• Have a staff member or volunteer available to sit with participants and
describe the presentations, if desired.
• Offer papers, agendas or other print materials in alternative formats such
as large print or braille.
• Make available for close examination large print copies of
transparencies, PowerPoint presentations or slides.
• Check for adjustable lighting in the meeting room. Dimming the
ceiling lights can increase the contrast — and thus the visibility — of
• Use sharply contrasting colors and large print for materials, maps, books,
signs, menus, forms and displays.
• Have each person state their name before speaking so that participants
who are blind or have low vision can track the course of the conversation
during question and answer periods and facilitated group discussions.
For People who are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing
• Allow preferred seating for those who wish it, usually in front of the
speaker and interpreter. Preferred seating should be away from heating
and air conditioning units, hallways and other noisy areas.
• Keep lights bright in the area where the presenter and interpreter stand.
Keep lights on the interpreters during PowerPoint, video or other
• Check that window coverings are adjustable to reduce or remove glare.
• Arrange seats in a circle for small discussion groups.
• Provide captioning, CART (Computer Aided Realtime Translation) or
qualified, professional interpreters.
• Set up an assistive listening system and check that it functions properly
before the presentation starts.
Several site visits may be necessary prior to an event. Keep in mind that with
continued communication and education, organizations will achieve the goal of
accessible, barrier-free conferences and meetings for all individuals.
142 Chapter 7
Independent Living Centers
To find the Independent living center closest to you, contact:
Planning Accessible Meetings
"Planning Accessible Conferences and Meetings: An
ERIC/OSEP Information Brief for Conference Planners"
The Council for Exceptional Children
ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education
1110 North Glebe Road
Arlington, VA 22201-5704
(800) 328-0272 voice/TTY
"A Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings"
by June Isaacson Kailes and Darrell Jones
ILRU (Independent Living Research Utilization) Program
2323 South Shepherd, Suite 1000
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 520-0232 voice
(713) 520-51 36 TTY
"Holding Accessible Meetings"
National Organization on Disabilities
910 Sixteenth Street, NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 293-5960 voice
(202) 293-5968 TTY
(202) 293-7999 fax
"Accommodating All Guests"
by John P.S. Salmen, AIA
The American Hotel & Lodging Association Information Center
P.O. Box 753
Waldorf, MD 20604
(301) 705-7455 voice
(301) 843-0159 fax
Meetings, Panels, Lectures and Conferences 143
"Common ADA Problems at Newly Constructed
"Five Steps to Make New Lodging Faciilities Comply with the ADA"
"Americans with Disabilities Act Checklist for New Lodging Facilities"
These publications are from the Disability Rights Section at the U.S.
Department of Justice (DOJ) and can be downloaded at the DOJ
Web site. They have many more publications on a variety of different
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 66738
. Washington, DC 20035-6738
(800) 514-0301 voice
(800) 514-0383 TTY
Producing Braille Materials and Tactile Maps
Braille Institute of America
741 North Vermont Street
Los Angeles, CA 90029
(800) 272-4553 voice
American Printing House for the Blind
P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, KY 40206-0085
(502) 895-2405 voice
(502) 899-2274 fax
(800) 223-1839 voice
American Council of the Blind
The American Council of the Blind is the nation's leading membership
organization of blind and visually impaired people. They can identify
local and national resources.
American Council of the Blind
1155 15th Street, NW, Suite 1004
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 467-5081 voice
(202) 467-5085 fax
(800) 424-8666 voice
Arts for All Gallery, Altanta, GA: Visual artist Marquetta Johnson with her work
Training for Staff, Board
A cultural organization's most important accessibility asset is its people —
staff, board members, volunteers and constituents (including applicants and
grantees). The time and energy invested in training people to understand
and accommodate those with disabilities can make the difference between
simply fulfilling legal obligations and providing a truly welcoming experience
The goal of any training program is to better educate participants on how
to be more inclusive — to be comfortable involving individuals with disabilities
in their activities.
Always include people with disabilities when developing and delivering
training programs (i.e., members of the accessibility advisory committee)
because such first-hand learning increases awareness and encourages
cooperation. Individuals with disabilities add a valuable perspective, can
recount experiences they have had as staff, participants or visitors, and
demonstrate effective techniques to increase accessibility. Be sure to
leave enough time for questions and discussion.
Trainings should model accessibility. Hold trainings in accessible spaces,
provide handouts in large print, have a sample in braille, be sure videos are
captioned and/or audio described, and provide sign language interpreters
so that people can experience accessibility.
"I like to begin awareness talks with my ABCs of Art and Accessibility.
Full inclusion means providing access for Artists, Administrators and
Audience members; this happens by building Bridges, not Barriers,
with Co-operation, Communication, and Creativity."
Pamela Walker, artist, administrator and audience member
146 Chapter 8
Provide anyone unable to attend training with training materials and keep
them abreast of the organization's accessibility efforts. Offer training on a
regular basis to accommodate newcomers and to provide a refresher on the
basics and information about new services.
Components of an Effective
The following are eight key components that should be included in every
effective training program or workshop.
1) The Organization's Commitment to Accessibility
Discuss the organization's commitment to providing superb service by
treating all people with courtesy and attentiveness while complying with the
Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and
applicable state and local laws.
Offer general tips on courteous behavior and good customer service.
People with disabilities themselves are the most effective in covering such
• See the person, not the disability. Don't "talk down."
• Speak directly to the individual, not to a companion or an interpreter.
• Treat adults as adults. Be considerate. A person with a disability may
take extra time to say or do things.
• Relax. Do not worry about using common expressions such as "See you
later" or "I've got to run."
"Maybe it's high time that people with disabilities, the artists of the
world, tell it like it is, about how our lives impact all of humanity, how
we improve the fabric of society, how we contribute to our economy,
how we are a part of our families and our communities."
John D. Kemp, lawyer and former CEO and President of VSA arts
Training for Staff, Board Members, Volunteers and Constituents
2) Define "People with Disabilities"
Discuss what the word "disability" means and how people don't always
conform to stereotypes. Many disabilities are hidden, invisible and not easily
detected. People with disabilities range from the person who has difficulty
walking great distances to the person who uses a wheelchair; one who is
blind and uses a guide dog to the person who cannot adjust quickly to
changes in lighting conditions; someone who has age-related mild hearing
loss to the person who is congenitally deaf.
Docent with Visitors
3) Needs of Older Adults
While older individuals may not need
specific assistance, they can benefit
by others understanding their needs.
Aspects of the organization and its
facility may be frustrating for older
people, such as:
• The distance one has to walk
from the car or front door to
• Finding one's way around a
large and confusing building.
• Lack of a place to sit with armrests while waiting.
• Poorly lit areas or floor levels that change unexpectedly.
Talk about the importance of language and its power to include or exclude.
People with disabilities want to be viewed with respect and dignity like
anyone else. Insist upon language that promotes inclusion. Equip staff
and volunteers with appropriate "people first" language information.
Keep in mind that there are regional differences regarding acceptable
use of language. Members of the cultural organization's accessibility
advisory committee can advise and talk about politically correct language
in the community.
Recommend good communication practices such as the following:
• Give the individual your complete attention.
• Always introduce yourself by name and say that you work for the
organization and in what capacity (e.g., staff, docent, volunteer, usher
or tour guide).
148 Chapter 8
• Always face the individual. Never carry on a conversation while standing
behind someone or turn away from someone while speaking.
• Speak clearly and distinctly but do not exaggerate or shout.
• Give clear and concise directions.
• Be flexible with language. If the person does not understand, rephrase
the statement using simpler words.
Usher Escorting Patron
6) Offering Assistance
Talk about the important responsibility of offering assistance.
Never be afraid to ask someone, "May I assist you?" If the offer
for assistance is accepted, ask the person, "How may I assist
you?" or "What can I do to assist you?" Most people will
appreciate the offer, while others may neither need nor want
assistance. Nevertheless, the offer to assist is never wrong.
Do not insist if help is refused.
If a person states a need, trust their explanation and respond
respectfully. An individual's safety and comfort are always
Discuss with staff and volunteers what is appropriate in
assisting people with disabilities. The law prescribes some of
this and the organization's policies should dictate the remainder.
For example, a theater might direct its front-of-house staff and volunteer
ushers to follow specific guidelines in assisting patrons with disabilities,
DO Hold or stabilize wheelchairs
while patrons transfer to a
DO Push peoples' wheelchairs to
the restroom if requested.
DO Assist a patron in purchasing
beverages or getting to a water
fountain if requested.
DO Help people to be comfortable.
DON'T Lift or carry people.
DON'T Accompany them into the
DON'T Feed or administer
DON'T Do anything to jeopardize
your own or patrons' safety.
Training for Staff, Board Members, Volunteers and Constituents 149
7) Describe and Demonstrate Services and Auxiliary Aids
Describe and demonstrate all available accommodations, including
services and auxiliary aids. Never assume that staff, volunteers, ushers
and docents know what services and accommodations are available or
how they work. If the organization uses multiple facilities, be specific as to
which accommodations are available (and where) in which facilities. Discuss
not only what is provided, but what a patron or visitor with a disability may
bring with them, such as different types of equipment and service animals.
8) How to Respond to Emergencies
Staff and volunteers should know the organization's procedures for
evacuating the building and handling medical emergencies.
For example, a museum might direct its security staff and docents to follow
specific guidelines during emergencies, such as:
• Do not make physical contact with any visitors, even if the intention is to
calm them. They may find even solicitous physical contact frightening or
• Be considerate of all individuals but do not allow inappropriate behavior.
• In the event of a medical emergency, injury or visible illness, call for
trained medical personnel. Unless the situation is life threatening, do
not attempt to render first aid and do not move the ill or injured
person unless the environment is life threatening.
• Take necessary steps to accommodate medical personnel (i.e., clear
theater aisle and turn on house lights so they may safely evacuate
• Know where all accessible emergency exits are located and be prepared
to evacuate people from the building calmly and safely.
Producing an Accessibility Conference
With regard to arts and humanities service organizations, access issues
should become an integral agenda item of your conferences, workshops,
seminars and orientations. For example, include someone with a disability to
discuss: access issues on an audience development panel, universal design
on a facilities panel or audio description in a media presentation. Having
cultural administrators who conduct accessible programs present their
success stories is highly effective. Presenters should include the planning
process, funding, marketing as well as any problems and successes they
150 Chapter 8
Think about what an accessibility workshop at a conference should include:
• The focus of all access education should be inclusion: integrating older
adults and people with disabilities into the cultural mainstream for full
and equal participation.
• The workshop/conference itself should be a model of an accessible
• Although the meeting may be condensed into a one-day workshop, these
activities should be presented over a two-day period for best results.
The agenda for a conference or workshop on accessibility should be
comprehensive. The following is a sample agenda:
1) Opening Remarks (10 minutes) by a key member of your organization
(director, chairman, board member).
2) Opening Panel (45 minutes) chaired by board member:
"Access from the Artists' or Humanities Scholars' and/or
Cultural Administrators' Perspective"
At least three panelists with disabilities and older adults who are artists,
scholars or administrators of a cultural organization:
• What the arts or the humanities mean to them.
• Examples of their personal experiences in gaining access to the
humanities or arts (both positive and negative experiences).
• Their advice to cultural administrators on how to better serve people
with their particular needs.
3) Panel (45 minutes)
"The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504"
• A speaker (i.e., lawyer) presents an overview of the laws translated
into how they apply to cultural groups, including rented/donated
space, touring and other relevant subjects. (15-20 minutes)
• A cultural administrator discusses his/her organization's access
policies and grievance procedures and (if applicable) experience in
resolving a grievance or formal complaint. (10 minutes)
• Questions and answers. (15 minutes)
4) Speakers at Luncheon and Dinner (20 to 30 minutes for each
One speaker per meal who may be an artist, humanities scholar, head of
a cultural organization or a board member who is actively engaged in
access issues; or a performance by professional artist(s) with disabilities.
Training for Staff, Board Members, Volunteers and Constituents 151
5) Concurrent panel sessions (1-1/2 hours for each concurrent segment;
2 to 4 panels for each time-slot)
The number, topics covered and frequency of panels will depend on the
length of your conference. Each panel should include no more than three
speakers and at least one panelist with a disability. Question and
discussion time must also be included in each session. Suggested
• "Making Access a Reality": discussion of policy, access advisory
committee, public affairs and marketing issues.
• "Education and Outreach": model programs that reach and include
people with various disabilities.
• "Access: It's More than a Ramp": designing for increased access
through the self-evaluation process.
• "Universal Design": the concept of going beyond minimum standards
and making access features an integral part of all design, including
programs and facilities.
• "Adapting Existing Facilities and Historic Preservation Issues."
• "How to Hold an Access Training Workshop."
• "Technologies that Advance Accessibility" (i.e., audio description,
captioning, assistive listening systems).
• "Resources for Change": funding opportunities (i.e., Community
Development Block Grants) and organizations that provide technical
assistance on accessibility (i.e., Independent Living Centers,
6) Closing Session "Planning for the Future" (one hour)
In the closing session, participants discuss "where do we go from here,"
and "what is needed to do it?" This valuable session will help your
organization identify next steps, and ways that you may work together
to advance access in your community.
152 Chapter 8
Examples of Training Tools
"Be Yourself. Say Hello!"
by Eleanor Rubin and Maureen Albano
Division of Education and Public Programs
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115-5523
(617) 369-3302 voice
(617) 267-9703) TTY
"Train Your Staff"
This is a component of a Web-based accessibility guide called
"A Step By Step Guide To Accessible Arts In California".
National Arts and Disability Center
Tarjan Center for Developmental Disabilities
300 UCLA Medical Plaza Suite #3310
Los Angeles, CA 90095-6967
(310) 794-1143 fax
"Disability Etiquette Handbook"
The City of San Antonio, Texas Planning Department and the Disability
Advisory Committee have prepared this Disability Etiquette Handbook to
enhance opportunities for persons with disabilities to pursue their
careers and independent lifestyles. It can be downloaded at:
"Ten Commandments of Etiquette for Communicating
with People with Disabilities"
UCP has numerous useful fact sheets on a variety of different
topics that could be used for training.
UCP National (aka United Cerebral Palsy)
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 776-0406 voice
(202) 973-71 97 TTY
(202) 776-0414 fax
(800) 872-5827 voice
Training for Staff, Board Members, Volunteers and Constituents 153
"Disability Etiquette Tips"
National Organization on Disability
910 Sixteenth Street, N.W., Suite 600
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 293-5960 Voice
(202) 293-7999 Fax
(202) 293-5968 TTY
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Tygress Heart Shakespeare Company, Portland, OR: "Twelfth Night" with
Michael Fisher, Julie Gebron interpreting
For most people, the decision to participate in cultural events is effortless;
decide to go, then go. Potential patrons and visitors with disabilities must
have that same choice or freedom to choose. This handbook's goal is to
guide cultural administrators toward planning for inclusion so that people
with disabilities can be full participants wherever they go for arts and
Another barrier to inclusion is attitude. If an organization does not communicate
a welcoming environment to its community, the community's perception of the
organization will not be positive.
Invite, Welcome and Respect
To develop any new audience, cultural organizations should take four essential
4. Repeat the process.
"We consider inclusive environments an opportunity for audience
building and better constituency service. The New York State Council
on the Arts formed an access advisory committee of staff, council
members and people from the field (including artists with disabilities)
to help us develop a three-year plan that would enhance the usability
of the arts for all New Yorkers. We asked our arts organizations to tell
us what they had already done and what they thought they needed to do.
We also asked them how we could help. The most frequent request from
the field was for information and resources. As a result we added a
section on universal planning and accessibility to our Web site; we
instituted an e-mail address you can use to receive information on
accessibility; we began a regular column on accessibility in FYI; and
we convened 17 workshops on accessibility around the state."
Nicolette B. Clarke, Executive Director, New York State Council on the Arts
156 Chapter 9
Build relationships outside the office and at the potential patron's or visitor's
own premises. From there, develop a network of interested individuals and
groups, then bring them into the organization's space and involve them in its
activities. Go beyond legal obligations and think about the benefits and
advantages of exemplary accessibility.
Ignoring potential audiences does not make good sense. Accessibility allows
organizations to tap new audiences and to keep established audiences longer.
Develop trust and win the confidence of potential patrons and visitors who have
disabilities so that they will become and continue to be part of the organization's
audience. Invest time and energy building the organization's credibility. Commit
to becoming a cultural organization that is welcoming and inclusive. Remember
that audience development requires persistence, consistency, patience and
Basic Strategies and Tools for Marketing
• Use the cultural organization's regular advertising and marketing
materials to promote accessibility.
• Target specific groups. Identify organizations that provide services or
work with people with disabilities and educate these groups about the
cultural organization's programs.
• Be sure that communication instruments are fully accessible, including
Web site and print materials.
• Include accessibility information in all marketing materials from
brochures and posters to television and radio ads to Web sites and
e-mail and listservs (e-mail-based mailing lists). Include as much
detailed information as possible or at a minimum, always include
a basic accessibility statement. For example:
"The Kentucky Center for the
Performing Arts welcomes
patrons with disabilities."
Promote accessible features and programs with detailed, welcoming
information. For example:
"Krannert Center is nationally known as a leader in accessibility
because of our wide range of services. Krannert Center offers
wheelchair and easy access seating in all theatres, plus usher
assistance in getting from the parking lot to your seats. Infrared
hearing amplification systems also are available in all four theatres.
We will gladly arrange for a sign-language interpreter for any
performance, and the ticket office can be reached by TTY for patrons
Audience Development and Marketing 157
who are deaf, hard-of-hearing or speech impaired. For patrons who
are visually impaired, we provide large print or braille programs plus
audiotaped versions of our calendars and brochures. Three weeks
advance notification for accommodations is requested. For more
information call our patron services manager at (217) 333-9716 or
(217) 333-9714 (TTY)."
• Do not overlook the powerful tool of "word of mouth" advertising.
Promote accessibility through the staff and volunteers who have contact
with the public — receptionists, docents, tour guides, speakers,
information center workers, ticket sellers, house managers, ushers,
board members and even other audience members.
• Launch a full-scale effort to inform existing and potential audiences,
visitors, patrons and participants. Let them know that the program
and facility are accessible and that the organization welcomes the
patronage and involvement of people with disabilities.
Targeting a Specific Population or Group
Begin by involving people from the target group in the cultural organization's
efforts. They will provide the accessibility coordinator with advice,
recommendations and introductions to members of the local community. Target
agencies and organizations that are by and for people with disabilities with
information they can share with their constituents. For example, when
captioning is provided for a lecture, notify the local Self Help for Hard of Hearing
People (SHHH) organization or a similar organization.
• Compile mailing and e-mail lists of local service agencies, organizations
by and for people with disabilities, schools, membership groups and
• Search the Internet and the phone book for organizations and programs
for people with disabilities. Obtain recommendations and referrals from
accessibility advisory committee members.
• Use access symbols or pictograms that have meaning to people the
organization wishes to attract as shorthand to indicate that accessible
accommodations and services are available. Be advised that using these
symbols promises accessibility to an organization's facilities and programs.
• Create an information fact sheet, brochure, booklet or an accessibility
map of the entire facility and all programs, accessibility features,
services, accommodations, policies, procedures and how to take
advantage of the accessibility features.
• Circulate accessibility information to everyone in the organization —
include it in new employee packages and distribute to all staff,
volunteers, docents, interns, directors, designers, performers and
to patrons and visitors.
• Show up, support and be a visible presence in the community. Have the
organization's staff invited to speak at meetings, conferences and events;
158 Chapter 9
set up booths and displays; and distribute literature. Be proactive. Do not
just wait for people with disabilities to seek out the organization.
• Learn from the concerns and issues that people bring to the organization's
attention. Do not make promises the organization cannot keep. Do not be
afraid to say you do not know, but always be ready to find out.
And, finally, do it all again, and again and again. Audience development
requires persistence, consistency, patience and time.
Writing and Speaking about People with Disabilities and
Always refer to a person first, rather than a disability; this emphasizes a
person's worth and abilities. Vocabularies change constantly, but the following
five "Never Uses" are here to stay.
• Never use the word "handicapped"; the word is "disability."
• Never use a disability as an adjective. It is not a blind writer, but a writer
who is blind. Focus on the person, not the disability.
• Never use "special"; this separates the individual from the group. For
example, information is not required regarding the "special needs of the
group," but "needs of the group."
• Never use euphemisms, such as "physically challenged" or
"handicapable." These are condescending.
• Never use labels: "the disabled," "the blind," "the deaf," "A.B.s" (able-
bodied), "T.A.B.s" (temporarily able-bodied) or "normal." Labeling people
is never acceptable.
People with disabilities The handicapped
A disability The impaired
Person without disabilities Able bodied
Non-disabled person Normal person
(This implies a person with a disability is
Person who is blind The blind
Person who is partially sighted
or has low vision
Person who is deaf The deaf or deaf mute
Person who is hard-of-hearing Suffers a hearing loss
("Suffers" dramatizes a disability.)
Audience Development and Marketing
Person who uses a wheelchair
Person with limited mobility
Confined or restricted to a wheelchair
(People use wheelchairs for mobility
Person who has
Person who has
Person who had polio
Stricken by MD
Afflicted by MS
("Stricken," "afflicted," and "victim," all imply
helplessness, and emotionalize and
sensationalize a person's disability.)
Person with mental retardation The retarded
Person with learning disabilities The learning disabled
Person of short stature
Dwarf or Midget
Disability Access Symbols
The 12 symbols at right may be used to promote and
publicize accessibility of places, programs and other
activities for people with various disabilities. These
symbols help advertise access services to customers,
audiences, staff and other targeted populations.
Language accompanying the symbols should focus
on the accommodation or service, not on who uses
it. For example, "Ramped Entrance" may accompany
the wheelchair symbol. This is important because
individuals with wheelchairs use ramps, but so do
people with baby strollers and luggage. Language
that fosters dignity is important, too. For example,
"Reserved Parking" or "Accessible Parking" may be
used with the wheelchair symbol to indicate parking
spaces designated for people with disabilities.
Assistive Listening Systems Closed Captioning
Accessible Print (18 pt. or Larger) Sign Language Interpreted
Are Blind or Have Low
ne Control Telep
160 Chapter 9
How to Communicate a Disability-Friendly Message
The following questionnaire should be easy to pass after reading this chapter. The
following is adapted and used with permission from The Solutions Marketing Group
SMG, 2334 South Rolfe Street, Arlington, VA 22202, www.disability-marketing.com.
While people with disabilities may require the use of an auxiliary aid or
accommodation for independence, they also purchase the same products and
want the same experiences as non-disabled consumers. Statistics indicate that
organizations that include people with disabilities in their ads attract more people
with disabilities and sell more products. They also get positive feedback from both
people with and without disabilities.
Q. If an organization includes people with disabilities in general market ads,
there's no need to advertise in disability specific publications or Web sites.
True U False
A. False: Including people with disabilities in general market advertising is a
first step in creating a disability-friendly message. However, an organization
solidifies its credibility by making an investment in the disability community.
This is accomplished by advertising in publications, Web sites and by sponsoring
and attending conferences that are targeted at people with disabilities. Targeted
ads must demonstrate that an organization understands the needs of people
Q. What must an organization do to effectively serve people with disabilities?
□ A. Conduct disability awareness and customer service training sessions
□ B. Wait until a lawsuit has been filed by a person or disability organization.
□ C. None of the above.
A. Organizations must perfect their internal as well as external operations. Equip
employees to serve people with disabilities effectively. Provide training so
employees develop familiarity when interacting with people with disabilities.
Q. An organization should test market approaches and events, programs and
services to people with disabilities.
□ True □ False
A. True: When creating new marketing approaches and programs, always include
people with different disabilities within the development team. They are most
familiar with their needs, uses for a program or service and the possibility for
multiple applications by people with different disabilities. An organization that is
serious about pursuing people with disabilities should never make marketing or
program development decisions without testing the marketing approach and
obtaining input to shape the strategy.
Audience Development and Marketing 161
Tools for Marketing
The Disability Access Symbols Project
The Graphic Artists Guild Foundation with support from the National
Endowment for the Arts produced a collection of access symbols which
can be ordered by mail, or downloaded.
Graphic Artists Guild Foundation
90 John Street, Suite 403
New York, NY 10038-3202
(800) 500-2672 voice
"Guidelines for Writing and Reporting About People
These guidelines represent the current consensus among disability
organizations regarding preferred terminology and suggestions
for appropriate ways to describe people with disabilities. For a
complimentary brochure send a stamped self-addressed envelope to:
University of Kansas
4089 Dole Building
Lawrence, KS 66045
(913) 864-4095 voice/TTY
(913) 864-5063 fax
National Council on the Aging (NCOA)
Although older people usually do not think of themselves as "disabled,"
20 percent of those over the age of 6.5 have some degree of disability.
Older adults can benefit if people involved with cultural organizations
understand their changing needs. Don't overlook this large, lively and
talented group of people as participants, volunteers and staff.
National Council on the Aging
409 Third Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 479-6674 TTY
Arena Stage, Washington, DC: "The Miracle Worker" with Shira Grabelsky and
Kelly C. McAndrew
Accessibility is a Work
Accessibility is and should be a work in progress. Routinely review and
evaluate services, accommodations and physical access. With rapid changes
in technology as well as the changes within the disability community, what
was acceptable and worked fine yesterday may not be the best an
organization can do today.
If something isn't working, for example, no one is using the braille self-guided
tour scripts to the art gallery, then evaluate and determine why. Does the
content have broad appeal to the audience that the organization is trying to
reach? In this example, there may not be a large audience of people who
read braille and who are interested in abstract two-dimensional visual art.
The organization may want to shift resources to touch tours of outdoor
sculptures or provide the self-guided script in large print. Work with
advocacy groups or an accessibility advisory committee to establish and
How large or small is the community in the organization's region? For
example, the area may have a very small population of individuals who
are deaf and use sign language, but a large population of people who are
hard-of-hearing. Is the organization offering an accommodation that doesn't
suit or meet the needs of people with disabilities in its area? Don't be afraid to
customize services or provide various options to suit the audience, community
and region. What works in Cleveland doesn't always work in St. Louis.
There may be some simple explanation for why an accommodation isn't
successful. For example, an organization decides to offer a discount ticket
program on Thursday evenings to draw in older adults. The organization
tried this for a while, but it didn't seem to have the desired results. If they
had gotten input from an advisory committee the organization would have
learned that transportation wasn't available on Thursday evenings in their
area and many older people as well as other individuals with vision loss
may not drive at night.
Keep an eye on changing technologies. Twenty years ago only a few
companies provided FM assistive listening systems; now there are numerous
164 Chapter 10
resources for this equipment. The equipment has also improved. Some
examples of ways in which technology has changed include:
• Infrared assistive listening systems originally had only one channel for
transmission and now there are multi-channel systems.
• For years the only way to open a door was to grab it and pull. Now there
are electronic door openers that are activated by pushing a button or
walking in front of an electronic sensor.
• Not too many years ago the idea that a computer could talk, read aloud,
or respond to its user's voice was completely alien — not so today. Many
new technologies can be used to improve or enhance accessibility.
Most important, remember to check with people in the community to find out
about changing attitudes. When the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, Section 504,
was first implemented, people who used wheelchairs rarely objected to
entering through a side or back entrance. Simply getting inside was the
goal. Now, more than a decade after the Americans with Disabilities Act
was passed, just "getting in" is no longer acceptable. People want to enter
by the same door as everyone else; second-class citizenship is no longer
acceptable. These changes in attitude mean that cultural organizations must
be ready to make changes in accessibility, policies and procedures to meet
the current expectations of the community.
The Core Principles of Accessibility
• Access to cultural programs is a federal law and a legal requirement
of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with
• Access is an organizational asset and must be integrated into all facets
and activities, from day-to-day operations to long-range goals and
• Access accommodations and services must be given a high priority and
earmarked in the budget process.
• Access has economic benefits because people with disabilities and older
adults are a significant part of the population and they constitute a large
potential market for the arts and the humanities.
• Access is a social issue. People with disabilities are included in the
definition of "diversity." Promoting diversity and inclusion ensures broader
access to the arts for all people.
• Access is a civil right. Assuring equal opportunity for everyone is a
fundamental starting point for all accessibility efforts.
"An experience that's rich and meaningful for participants who have
disabilities will almost certainly be rich and meaningful for others, but
the reverse isn't necessarily true."
John Slatin, Institute for Technology and Learning, University of Texas at
Austin, Austin, TX
Design for Accessibility: A Cultural Administrator's Handbook
FOR THE ARTS
OF STATE ARTS AGENCIES
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The Kennedy Center MetLife Foundation
This book was produced in 2003 through an interagency
agreement between the National Endowment for the Arts
(NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities
(NEH) and through an NEA cooperative agreement with
the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and contract
with The John E Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
National Endowment for the Arts
Dana Gioia, Chairman
Hope O'Keeffe, Deputy General Counsel
Paula Terry, Director, Office for AccessAbility
Suzanne Richard, Accessibility Specialist,
Office for AccessAbility
National Endowment for the Humanities
Bruce Cole, Chairman
Lauren Walsh, Former Assistant General Counsel
Heather Gottry, Assistant General Counsel
Nancy E. Weiss, Former Deputy General Counsel
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
Jonathan Katz, Chief Executive Officer
Dennis Dewey, Managing Director
Johanna Misey Boyer, Director of Leadership Development
The John F. Kennedy Center for the
Michael Kaiser, President
Derek E. Gordon, Senior Vice President
Betty Siegel, Manager of Accessibility
Betty Siegel, The John F. Kennedy Center for the
William V. Patterson, University of Maryland,
College Park, MD
Katharine Bird, American Association of Retired People,
Andi Mathis, National Endowment for the Arts,
Charles Goldman, Esq., Washington, DC
Ann-Ellen Lesser, AL Projects, Spencertown, NY
Mary Lincer, Freelance Arts Writer-Educator,
Sharon Parks, National Park Service, Historic Preservation
Division, Washington, DC
John P. S. Salmen, AIA, Universal Designers &
Consultants, Inc. Takoma Park, MD
Adaptive Environments, Boston, MA
Adaptive Environments, Boston, Massachusetts
Kathy Gips, Project Manager
Gabriela Sims, Illustrator
The Creative Group, Boston, Massachusetts
Peter Kimmins, Illustrator
James McDermott, Illustrator
Simmons Design, Alexandria, VA
Celia M. Hughes, VSA arts Texas, Austin, TX
Jennifer Nord, The John F. Kennedy Center for the
Robert Booker, Minnesota State Arts Board,
Saint Paul, MN
Cindy Brown, Artability, Phoenix, AZ
Gail Burke, Minnesota State Arts Board, Saint Paul, MN
Kathy Gips, Adaptive Environments, Boston, MA
Jan Majewski, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC
David Park, National Park Service, Washington, DC
Randall Rosenbaum, Rhode Island State Council on the
Arts, Providence, Rl
Brenda Tharp, Texas Commission of the Arts, Austin, TX
Oliver Tuholske, National Endowment for the Humanities,
Charles J. Washburn, VSA arts of Massachusetts,
Renee Wells, Cultural Access Consultant, Middlebury, VT
This book is based on the 1992 revision of The Arts
and 504, which was originally commissioned and
published in 1985 by the National Endowment for
the Arts and produced by Barrier Free Environments,
Inc. (Betsy Laslett, author and editor; Ronald L. Mace,
AIA, architectural consultant; Leslie Young and Peggy
Civil Rights for People with Disabilities:
Framing the Discussion (continued)
1973: The Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in
programs conducted by federal agencies, in federal employment and the
employment practices of federal contractors. Most importantly, Section 504
forbids discrimination against people with disabilities in any activity or
program that receives federal financial assistance. The Secretary of Health
Education and Welfare (HEW) did not issue regulations implementing
Section 504 until April 28, 1977.
1975: The Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHC) establishes the right
of children with disabilities to an integrated public school education. In 1990
it is amended and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
1976: The fight by disability rights activists for accessible transportation starts with
the Transbus group and continues with the organization of American
Disabled for Accessible Public Transit (ADAPT) in 1983.
1977: Disability rights activists in 10 cities demonstrate and occupy the offices of
the Department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW) to force issuance
of regulations implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The
demonstrations galvanize the disability community nationwide. On April 28,
the regulations are signed.
1981: The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) and the
Disability Rights Center respond to the threat to amend or revoke regulations
implementing Section 504 and the EAHC with intensive lobbying and
grassroots efforts. After three years, attempts to revoke or amend the
regulations are dropped.
1984: The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act mandates that
polling places be accessible or that ways be found to enable elderly and
people with disabilities to exercise their right to vote.
1988: Deaf students at Gallaudet University, Washington, DC, shut down and
occupy the campus demanding selection of a deaf president. The Board
of Trustees capitulate and announce the University s first deaf president.
1989: The Congress and Senate take up the reintroduced second draft of the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Disability organizations across the
country advocate on behalf of ADA.
1990: Hundreds of people with disabilities come to the nation s capital in support
of the ADA. ADAPT activists occupy the Capitol rotunda and are arrested.
1990: Americans with disabilities gain their full civil rights in the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability
in employment, state and local government, public accommodations,
commercial facilities, transportation and telecommunications.
FOR THE ARTS
OF STATE ARTS AGENCIES
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The Kennedy Center