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ACCESS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO MEETINGS AND OTHER GROUP EVENTS

DAO 209-8: ACCESS FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO MEETINGS AND OTHER GROUP EVENTS
Number: DAO 209-8
Effective Date: 2008-01-23

SECTION 1. PURPOSE.

.01 This Order sets forth Department of Commerce (the Department) policies and requirements for providing accessibility to meetings, events, and other gatherings for qualified individuals with disabilities.

.02 This revision revises the definitions section; adds responsibilities for contractor-provided training; and provides a general update of the Order.

SECTION 2. BACKGROUND.

.01 Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires, in part, that Federal employees and applicants with disabilities receive reasonable accommodation. Meetings, presentations, training and other group events are integral parts of the employment experience. It is the Department’s policy to provide qualified employees and applicants with disabilities with full access to all aspects of employment.

.02 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires, in part, that federally-sponsored or facilitated meetings, conferences, presentations and programs to which members of the public are invited or admitted shall be accessible to people with disabilities. It is the Department’s policy to provide qualified individuals with disabilities full access to Departmental programs, information and services.

.03 Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, requires in part, that electronic and information technology (EIT) developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Federal Government after June 21, 2001, be accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public. It is the Department’s policy to provide individuals with disabilities full access to EIT developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Department.

SECTION 3. DEFINITIONS.

.01 Accessible means that agency programs, activities, and services are obtainable and readily usable by qualified individuals with disabilities.

.02 Advance request means a reasonable amount of prior notice, generally at least 48 hours.

.03 Alternate formats usable by people with disabilities may include, but are not limited to, Braille, ASCII text, large print, recorded audio, and electronic formats that comply with Section 508.

.04 Alternate methods are simply different means of providing information, including product documentation, to people with disabilities. Alternate methods may include, but are not limited to, voice, fax, relay service, teletypewriter (TTY), internet posting, captioning, text-to-speech synthesis, and audio description.

.05 Assistive technology includes any item, piece of equipment or system, whether acquired commercially, modified or customized, that is commonly used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

.06 Auxiliary aids means services or devices that enable persons with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills to have an equal opportunity to participate in and enjoy the benefits of programs or activities conducted by operating units.

For example, auxiliary aids useful for persons with impaired vision include screen reader software, materials on electronic disk, readers, Brailled materials, and audio records. Auxiliary aids useful for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing include telephone handset amplifiers, telephone compatible with hearing aids, telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD’s), interpreters, notetakers, written materials, and other similar services
and devices. Auxiliary aids do not include individually prescribed devices such as hearing aids, readers for personal use or study, or other such devices or services of a personal nature.

.07 Departmental meeting means a gathering of Department employees sponsored or initiated by an operating unit or its components, such as staff meetings, briefings, informational presentations, conferences, receptions, celebratory programs, awards ceremonies, holiday commemorations and interactive exhibits.

.08 Electronic and information technology includes information technology and any equipment or interconnected system or subsystem of equipment that is used in the creation, conversion, or duplication of data or information. The term electronic and information technology includes, but is not limited to telecommunications products (such as telephones), information kiosks and transaction machines, World Wide Web sites, multimedia, and office
equipment such as copiers and fax machines.

.09 Facility means all or any portion of buildings, structures, equipment, roads, walks, parking lots, or other real or personal property, whether owned, leased, rented or managed by a Departmental operating unit.

.10 Physically accessible location means a facility or part of a facility which meets the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) (i.e., minimum standard for architectural accessibility) referenced by Department regulations at 15 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 8b.18(c). The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) is an acceptable alternative standard when it is clearly evident that equivalent or greater access to the facility or part of the facility is thereby provided.

.11 Public meeting means a gathering as defined by paragraph 3.07 of this Order which may or may not admit employees, and is open to the participation of non-employees such as interested citizens, business representatives, State or local government officials, contractors, or non-Departmental officials or employees.

.12 Reasonable Accommodation refers to any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of a job, and to enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities. For more information see DAO 215-10, "Reasonable Accommodation for Disabilities in Employment.”

.13 Teletypewriter (TTY), also called telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD), is a telephone device that enables individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who have a speech impairment to make and receive telephone calls. TTYs can include computers with special software such as NextTalk or SoftTTY.

.14 Training refers to seminars, conferences, skill building courses and professional meetings, attended by Department employees within the scope of employment, with the funding or approval of an operating unit, or educational gatherings sponsored by an operating unit for the benefit of employees and/or non-employee participants.

.15 Undue Hardship is an action that requires significant difficulty or expense. The following factors are relevant to the undue hardship determination: the nature and net cost of the accommodation, the financial resources available to the Department as a whole, the effect of expenses and resources or other impact on operations, the size of the organization with respect to the number of employees, and the nature of the operation. Accordingly, these determinations are made on a case-by-case basis. Decision makers must seek guidance from and consult with the Reasonable Accommodations Coordinator (bureau coordinator for reasonable accommodation issues) before determining that an undue hardship would occur if an accommodation were provided. For more information see DAO 215-10 and 29 CFR 1630.2 (p).

SECTION 4. APPLICATION.

.01 Accessibility Requirements.

a. Departmental meetings and public meetings which are open to attendees without prior registration shall:

1. Be conducted in physically accessible locations;

2. Provide qualified, professional sign language interpreters (to request sign language interpreters in the Herbert C. Hoover building, send an e-mail to slanguage@doc.gov or call 202-482-4481; for interpreters in other locations, contact the bureau Reasonable Accommodations Coordinator).

3. Provide other auxiliary aids upon advance request. Although the Department should give consideration to the individual’s preferred accommodation, the Department is free to choose any effective accommodation in light of the situation and circumstances of each request.

b. Consistent with this Order, Departmental facilities which admit visitors for informational inquiries or services, educational programs, presentations, tours or celebrations shall be physically accessible and shall provide appropriate auxiliary aids upon advance request.

c. All training and informational multimedia presentations which support the Department’s mission (both live and pre-recorded) shall contain open or closed captioning, regardless of anticipated audience (this rule does not apply for video created or purchased before June 21, 2001). Live broadcast or other live video presentations for employees or visitors, as well as pre-recorded videos, shall be captioned. Information on available sources for captioning can be provided by the Office of Civil Rights or the bureau Reasonable Accommodations Coordinator.

d. All printed materials distributed to participants will also be made available on computer disk or other alternative methods specifically requested by event participants. This includes all electronically based training modules, Power Point slides, and other handouts or documentation. Text-supported exhibits open to employees and/or visitors to Department facilities shall be made available via alternative formats or read aloud to visually-impaired participants upon request.

e. Training.

1. Training courses sponsored or contracted by operating units shall be held in physically accessible locations and shall provide auxiliary aids or alternative formats to disabled participants upon advance request.

2. Operating units shall, upon advance request, provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations not otherwise provided by vendors, whether public or private, who furnish training at non-Departmental sites.

f. Electronic and information technology (EIT) developed, maintained, procured, or used by the Department after June 21, 2001, shall be accessible to qualified individuals with disabilities. More information on Section 508 standards and policies for electronic and information technology accessibility is available through the Departmental or Bureau Chief Information Officer.

g. All facility’s Occupant Emergency Plans must include provision for assisting disabled participants during a shelter-in-place or full evacuation. The facility’s procedures for assistance during an emergency must be addressed by the event’s sponsor during the event’s introductory remarks.

h. Requirements governing attendance at classified meetings may apply. Please contact the servicing security officer for further information.

.02 Exceptions.

a. Departmental meetings and training courses which are restricted to specific, identified employees, none of whom are hearing-impaired, need not provide a sign language interpreter.

b. Departmental meetings and training courses which are restricted to specific, identified employees, none of whom are mobility-impaired, are not required to be held in locations that meet the UFAS http://www.access-board.gov/ufas/ufas-html/ufas.htm or the ADAAG http://www.access-board.gov/ada-aba/final.htm.

c. Meetings which require advance registration need not provide a sign language interpreter unless requested in advance, but must always be held in a physically accessible location.

.03 Prohibition of Exclusion. Nothing in paragraph 4.02 of this Order shall be construed:

a. To discourage the employment of qualified individuals with disabilities;

b. To permit the exclusion of qualified individuals with disabilities from training; nor

c. To permit the exclusion of qualified individuals with disabilities who would otherwise be invited or admitted to Departmental or public meetings.

.04 Notification.

a. All announcements, notices, or invitations posted, delivered or published for gatherings subject to subparagraph 4.01 and 4.02 of this Order shall include the notice:

“This program is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other accommodations should be directed to (name) (voice and TDD telephone numbers).”

b. The person in charge of handling the accommodations for the event should, if possible, speak with the disabled person(s) to inquire as to what their specific limitations are (total blindness, partial vision, color-blindness, hard of hearing person who uses a wireless communication system and does not rely on a sign language interpreter, a deaf person who prefers Computer Assisted Real Time Captioning instead of an interpreter, etc.) and how their needs can best be accommodated. Use registration forms to identify any special accommodations that may be necessary.

.05 Non-Departmental Users of Department Facilities. Non-Departmental groups, both public and private, shall be required to comply with this Section as a prerequisite for using Departmental facilities for meetings. See also DAO 206-5, “Occasional Use of Public Areas in Public Buildings,” and DAO 217-19, “Use of Department of Commerce Facilities for Proprietary or Non-Proprietary Research Purposes.”

SECTION 5. RESPONSIBILITIES.

.01 Program Sponsors. The operating unit sponsoring, initiating or facilitating a Departmental or public meeting shall be responsible for:

a. ensuring that such events are presented in physically accessible locations;

b. providing qualified, professional sign language interpreters, audio assistive listening devices for hearing-impaired participants, or other such auxiliary aids requested by qualified disabled participants; and

c. expenses necessary to comply with Section 4 of this Order.

.02 Non-Departmental Users of Departmental Facilities shall be responsible for expenses necessary to comply with Section 4 of this Order.

SECTION 6. COMPLIANCE.

.01 Employees and applicants for employment may file complaints of inaccessibility under the procedures set forth in the Department’s Handbook for Processing Discrimination Complaints http://www.osec.doc.gov/ocr/publications/manual2.pdf, issued pursuant to DAO 215-9.

.02 Non-employees may file complaints of inaccessibility under the procedures set forth at 15 CFR Section 8c.70.

SECTION 7. EFFECT ON OTHER ORDERS.

This Order supersedes Department Administrative Order 209-8, dated
August 10, 1992.

Signed by: Director for Civil Rights

Approved by: Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration

Office of Primary Interest: Office of Civil Rights

Questions and Comments

Send Questions or Comments on the Commerce Directives Management program to Directives@doc.gov.

Office of Privacy and Open Government
Office of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

 

Page last updated:February 4, 2010