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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 
access discrimination. 

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 




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The Kennedy Center Met Life Foundation 

Cover Artwork 

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. 

Order Information 

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 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,, the National Endowment for the Humanities Web site,, 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 

Foreword 1 

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 

Introduction .15 

The Laws and Guidelines 16 

Key Requirements and Best Practices 23 

Definitions 30 

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 
Heather Baumgarner 


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 

Chapter 1 

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 
Cultural Organizations 

• 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 
without disabilities. 

"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 
field to: 

• 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 
will be. 

• 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 
Arts (NEA) 

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. 
Work includes: 

• 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 
targeted groups. 

• 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 

Statistical Information 

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 
mobility impairments. 

• 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 
learning disability. 

U.S. Census Bureau 

Washington, DC 20233 





Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC: Visitor Freddie Pecco with tactile and 
braille map 


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 


Chapter 2 

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 buildings: 

• 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 
Regulation Compact. 

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 
("Rehabilitation Act") 

(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 
employment opportunities. 

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 
private entities. 

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 
humanities programs, 

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 
to others. 

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 
accessibility provisions. 

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 
of accessibility. 

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 Law 

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 
these requirements. 

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 
chapter mandate: 

• nondiscrimination; 

• 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 


Chapter 2 

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 
Arts Agencies 

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). 

:ii :: : . : .. ; .,, : . . 7 : .. ■*; ::: ; :K * ' : ■ ■ '" ' ^ ' ' " : :::: " ' "*' ' ^ # :-¥' :!■ . .?:, ;:;.:;:;■;:; . ..* .:'■' 

"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 
project progresses. 

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 
with disabilities. 

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 
policy archivist. 

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 
reading abilities. 

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 
business necessities. 


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 
all persons. 

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: 


Q. What employers are covered by title I of the ADA, and when is the 
coverage effective? 

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 
nondiscrimination requirements? 

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 
are protected. 

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 
may need? 

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. 


Chapter 2 

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 
essential functions. 

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 
reasonable accommodation. 

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 
the ADA? 

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 
Revenue Service. 

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 
its requirements? 

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 

become effective? 

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. 


Chapter 2 

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 
public entities. 

Q. What changes must a public entity make to its existing facilities to make 
them accessible? 

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 
is accessible? 

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 

be enforced? 

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 

Public Accommodations 

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 
public accommodations. 

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 
vision impairments. 

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 
upon request. 

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 
most cases. 

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 
passenger terminal. 

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 
welfare dependency. 

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 , 
January 1999 

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 
with Disabilities 

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 
Centers (DBTACs) 

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 

and communications. 


(800) 949-4232 voice/TTY 

Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, CA: Backstage dressing room with actress 
Lisa Mann 


Architectural Access 

Universal Design 

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. 


Chapter 3 

Display is visual and tactile 

Information available 
in print and braille 

Low display 
with clear 
knee space 
is good 
for sitting 
or standing 




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 
any users. 

• Make provisions for privacy, security 
and safety equally available to 
all users. 

• Make the design appealing to 
all users. 

• Examples 

• Power doors with sensors at entrances that are convenient for all users. 

• Integrated, dispersed and adaptable seating in assembly areas such 
as theaters. 

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. 

• Examples 

• 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. 

• Examples 

• A double-cut key easily inserted into a recessed keyhole in either of 
two ways. 

• 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 


Chapter 3 

Shower head on long 
hose can be hand 
held or fixed at different 
heights for people 
sitting, standing, 
showering alone or 
receiving assistance. 

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. 

• Examples 

• 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 

standing user. 

Make reaching to all components comfortable for any seated or 

standing user. 

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 

'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 
universally accessible. 

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 
it periodically. 

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 


Chapter 3 

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. 

Architectural Access 


2. Parking 

Parking Spaces 

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 
accessible entrance. 

Both the UFAS and ADAAG (section 4.1.1) 
calculate the number of required accessible 
spaces as follows: 

Minimum Number 

of Accessible 
Total Parking Spaces Spaces Required 

International Symbol 
of Accessibility 

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 

Accessible Parking 











2 percent of total 

20 plus 1 for each 100 over 1000 


Chapter 3 

Off-site Parking 

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 

Passenger-Loading Zone 

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 

Architectural Access 


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. 

Entrance Ramps 

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 
inclement weather. 

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. 

Existing Entrance 

Straight Run Ramp 

Switch-back Ramp 


Chapter 3 

16" min. 
24" preferred 


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. 

Accessible Entrance 
on Main Street 


Sign at 



Revolving Doors 

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 

Architectural Access 


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 


Chapter 3 

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. 

5' min 


4' min 
Clearance for Aisles 

Clear Floor space 

Architectural Access 



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. 

Protruding Objects 

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. 


Chapter 3 


60" \oy\q, level area 
at top of ramp 

handrails on both sides 

slope max. 1:12, 

the less steep, the better 

stable, firm, 
slip-resistant surface 

60" long, level area 
at bottom of ramp 

Interior Ramp 

Interior Ramps 

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. 

Intermittent/Temporary Ramps 

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 
by everyone. 

Architectural Access 


Elevator Lobbies 

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 
perceive them. 

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 

Elevator Lobby 

Remove obstacles that 
are under call buttons 

*rc? mm 

Elevator Cab 

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 

control button 
raised diameter 
numerals ^A-* min 

5 /&" high 

sy mbols 


Control Panel 

emergency stop 
octagon symbol 
raised, but not 


Chapter 3 

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. 

Architectural Access 


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. 

Rocker Switch 

lever handles 

Reach Ranges 

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 

ideal range 

Forward Reach Range at Work 

Side Reach Range 


Chapter 3 

Available at 
Front Desk 


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 

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 

Hi-Low Fountains 

Architectural Access 



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. 

Warning Signals 

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. 


Chapter 3 



ATlo N 

Ticket Office Window 

Information Counter 

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. 

Architectural Access 


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. 

Restaurant Seating 

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 


Chapter 3 


Gift Shop 


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 route. 

6. Restrooms 

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 
assist children. 

Circular Clear 
Floor Space 

5' mln 

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 

Architectural Access 


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 
accessible restroom. 

Restroom Vestibule 

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. 

Toilet Stalls 

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 


approach only, 

other approaches 

46" min 

Accessible Toilet Stall 

with wall-mounted toilet 

► with floor-mounted toilet 


Chapter 3 

Alternate Toilet Stall 


56" min x 60" min 
clear floor space 
at toilet ~— 

30" min x 4©" min 
clear floor 
space at 

door does not 

swing into 

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. 

Architectural Access 


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 

Modified Lavatory 


Chapter 3 

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 

Universal Design 

The Center for Universal Design 

The center is a national research, information and technical 

assistance center that evaluates, develops and promotes 

universal design. 

Center for Universal Design 

North Carolina State University 

School of Design 

Box 8613 

Raleigh, NC 27695-8613 

(919)515-3082 voice/TTY 

(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 

(716)829-3861 fax 

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 

(202)371-0181 fax 

"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. 

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 

North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC: Visitor Maralo Guimaraes 
and ramp 


Architectural Access to 
Historic Properties 

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 

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 
preservation standards. 

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 
character-defining features. 

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 
and amenities. 

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 
Preservation Context 

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 
emergency egress. 

Accessibility Solutions 

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 
property's components. 

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 


Historic Interiors 

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. 

Building Amenities 

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 

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 

"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. 

New Addition 

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 
circulation pattern. 

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 
the landscape? 

Architectural Access to Historic Properties 93 

Accessibility and Historic Properties 

"ADA: A Self-Guided Training Course for Historic 
Preservation Commissions" 

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 
with Disabilities" 

"Accessibility Checklist for Historic Properties" 

"Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of 

Historic Properties" 

National Center for Cultural Resources Stewardship & 

Partnership Programs 

Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service 

1849 C Street, NW, NC330 

Washington, DC 20240 

(202) 343-9583 voice 

"Accessibility and Historic Preservation: Entrances to 
the Past" 

This is a VHS video that can be obtained with closed or 

open captioned. 

Historic Windsor, Inc. 

PO Box 1777 

Windsor, VT 05089-0021. 

(802) 674-6752 voice/TTY hwi.htm 

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 

Indiana University 

2805 East 10th Street, Suite 190 

Bloomington, IN 47408-2698 

(812)856-4422 voice 

(812)856-4421 TTY 

"Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility 

USDA Forest Service 

Accessibility Program 

P.O. Box 96090 

Washington, D.C. 20090-6090 

(202) 205-8333 voice 


Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ: Sign language interpreter Jolinda Greenfield 
for "Dreamgirls" 


Effective Communication 
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. 


Chapter 5 

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 Describer 
in Booth 

Patron Using 
Audio Description 


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 
playback systems. 

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 
are arranged 
and numbered: 






f g 

■ ■ 

" j 

An experienced person using a 
braille writer, a mechanical device 
similar to a typewriter, can produce 
single copies of braille. A more 

k I 

U V 




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. 

3raille Alphabet 

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 
with disabilities. 

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. 

Large Print 


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 

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 

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. 
(ADAAG 4.1.3) 

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. 

Assistive Listening 

System Available 

Please Ask at 

Ticket Window 

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 
permanently installed. 

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 




Emitter (modulator) 



Assistive Listening Systems 


Chapter 5 

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 
audio description. 


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 
on the 

CART Set-Up 

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 
the other. 

Sign Language 

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 
preferred method. 


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 
Cued Speech. 

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 
between characters. 


Chapter 5 

/l Good, direct, nonglare 


light on interpreter 

Provide a neutral backdrop 
behind interpreter 
approximately 12 feet wide 


Good, direct, nonglare 
light on interpreter 

Provide a neutral backdrop 
behind interpreter 
approximately 12 feet wide 

Interpreter Positions 

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 
performance interpreting. 

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 

Telephone Amplifiers 

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 

if necessary. 

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 
Handicapped (NLS) 

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 

Color Deficiencies" 

Lighthouse International 

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 

Purdue University 

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 

Web Accessibility 

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) 

National Office 

7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1200 

Bethesda, MD 20814 

(301)657-2248 voice 

(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. 

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 

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)608-0050 voice/TTY 
(301) 608-0508 fax 

Heard Museum. Phoenix, AZ: Sculpture by Michael Naranjo. visitor 
Charlotte Davis 


Accessibility in Arts and 
Humanities Activities 

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 
common issues: 

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 
each event. 

Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 


Museums, Exhibitions and Visual Arts 

Display Cases 

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 




36" max 

Display Case Wall Mount 

Tactile Display 

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. 


Chapter 6 


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. 

Tactile Components 

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. 


Chapter 6 



push button 



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. 

Tour Route 

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 

Ticket Office 

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. 


Chapter 6 

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 

midpoint wheelchair 
position, 33" x 60" 
clear floor space 


5' min. 


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Integrated and 
Dispersed Seating 



66" x 46" clear 
floor space 

back row 

wheelchair position 
omit two chairs 
33" x 46" clear 
floor space 

doors 5lbf max. opening force 

back row position for two 
wheelchairs - omit three chairs 
66" x 46" clear floorspace 

Accessibility in Arts and Humanities Activities 123 

Seating Locations 

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 
folding armrests. 

• 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 


Chapter 6 

Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) for 
Seating Requirements 

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 


Over 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. 

Alternate Formats 

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 


Chapter 6 


IpcF Interpreter 

Best Seating 
for Deaf Patrons 

Proscenium Stage 

Proscenium Stage 

Proscenium Stage 

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 

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 
graphics judiciously. 

• 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 

• LIFT at 

• InSight and InFocus at 

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. 


Chapter 6 

Artist with Disability 

Literary Activities 

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 

Accessibility Checklists 

"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)305-7890 voice 

(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 
(202)289-9127 bookstore 

"Reaching Out: A Creative Guide for Designing Cultural 
Programs and Exhibits for Persons who are Blind or 
Visually Impaired" 

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 

visually impaired. 

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 

Access Board 

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 

Accessible Media 

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. 

Benton Foundation 

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 
and Conferences 

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 
at: www/ 

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 

raised characters. 

Are the emergency egress routes accessible and are there 

visual/audible alarms? 

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? 

Accessible Transportation 

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. 


27" min 

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. 

W- 19"- 

Table Clearance 

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 
some examples: 

• "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) 
and (e-mail)." 

• "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 
of participants. 

• 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. 


Chapter 7 



Select well lit and easily accessible meeting rooms. 

Control background noise. 

Choose a meeting room with good acoustics and an auxiliary 

sound system. 

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 
microphones for 
seated speakers 


Floor Mike with 3oom 

Drapery should not extend 
behind table as it can tangle 
wheelchairs, walkers, canes 
and crutches 

Speakers Platform 


Neutral backdrop 
behind interpreter 
and speakers 



I 3 

r b 



Handrails both 
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 
audiovisual materials. 

• 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 
visual presentations. 

• 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 

Accessible Lodging 

"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 
Lodging Facilities" 

"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 
accessibility issues. 
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 
Members, Volunteers 
and Constituents 

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 
for everyone. 

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 
Training Program 

The following are eight key components that should be included in every 
effective training program or workshop. 

1) The Organization's Commitment to Accessibility 
and Etiquette 

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 
issues, including: 

• 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 
one's seat. 

• 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. 

4) Language 

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. 

5) Communication 

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 
important considerations. 

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, 
such as: 

DO Hold or stabilize wheelchairs 
while patrons transfer to a 
conventional seat. 

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 
toilet area. 

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 
the person). 

• Know where all accessible emergency exits are located and be prepared 
to evacuate people from the building calmly and safely. 

Producing an Accessibility Conference 
or Workshop 

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 
topics are: 

• "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, 

VSA arts). 

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)794-1141 voice 

(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 


Audience Development 
And Marketing 

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 
cultural activities. 

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 

1. Invite 

2. Welcome 

3. Respect 

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 
social clubs. 

• 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. 

Useful Tools 

Writing and Speaking about People with Disabilities and 
Older Adults 

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. 

Affirmative Negative 

People with disabilities The handicapped 

A disability The impaired 

The disabled 

The unfortunate 

Person without disabilities Able bodied 

Non-disabled person Normal person 

(This implies a person with a disability is 

not normal.) 

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 

Wheelchair bound 

Confined or restricted to a wheelchair 
(People use wheelchairs for mobility 
and freedom.) 

Person who has 
muscular dystrophy 
Person who has 
multiple sclerosis 
Person who had polio 

Stricken by MD 

Afflicted by MS 

Polio victim 

("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 

Older person 
Older adult 
Mature adult 

The aged 
The elderly 
Senior citizen 

Person of short stature 
Little people 

Dwarf or Midget 
Diminutive person 

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 

• • 

• • 

• • 

C # 

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, 

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 
with disabilities. 

Q. What must an organization do to effectively serve people with disabilities? 

□ A. Conduct disability awareness and customer service training sessions 
for employees. 

□ 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 
with Disabilities" 

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: 

RTC/IL Publications 

University of Kansas 

4089 Dole Building 

Lawrence, KS 66045 

(913) 864-4095 voice/TTY 

(913) 864-5063 fax 

Older Populations 

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)479-1200 voice 

(202) 479-6674 TTY 

Arena Stage, Washington, DC: "The Miracle Worker" with Shira Grabelsky and 
Kelly C. McAndrew 


Accessibility is a Work 
in Progress 

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 
re-establish priorities. 

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 
Disabilities Act. 

• 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 






nun mini nun 

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 
Performing Arts 

Michael Kaiser, President 

Derek E. Gordon, Senior Vice President 

Betty Siegel, Manager of Accessibility 

Project Manager 

Betty Siegel, The John F. Kennedy Center for the 
Performing Arts 

Project Editor/Writer 

William V. Patterson, University of Maryland, 
College Park, MD 


Katharine Bird, American Association of Retired People, 

Washington, DC 
Andi Mathis, National Endowment for the Arts, 

Washington, DC 


Charles Goldman, Esq., Washington, DC 
Ann-Ellen Lesser, AL Projects, Spencertown, NY 
Mary Lincer, Freelance Arts Writer-Educator, 

Washington, DC 
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 
Performing Arts 


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, 

Washington, DC 
Charles J. Washburn, VSA arts of Massachusetts, 

Boston, MA 
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 
Melin, designers). 

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. 




nun mini mm 

The Kennedy Center 

MetLife Foundation