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Disability Rights Resources for People with Vision Loss

A Guide to Disability Rights Laws
Employment
Reasonable Accommodation
Education
State/Local Government Miscellaneous Services; Access to Places of Public Accommodation
ADAAG (Americans with Disabilities Accessibility Guidelines)
Section 255: Telecommunications
Section 508: Access to Information
Transportation
Housing
Legal Advice
Other Resources


A Guide to Disability Rights Laws

This guide provides an overview of ten federal civil rights laws that ensure equal opportunity for people with disabilities. To find out more about how these laws may apply to you, contact the agencies and organizations listed.

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/cguide.htm

Employment

Federal employment is covered by Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The statutes enforced by EEOC make it illegal to discriminate against federal sector employees or applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age. A person who files a complaint or participates in an investigation of an EEO complaint, or who opposes an employment practice made illegal under any of the statutes enforced by EEOC, is protected from retaliation.

State/Local government employment is covered by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Private sector employment is covered by Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies and labor unions from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations. The ADA's nondiscrimination standards also apply to federal sector employees under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, and its implementing rules.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides that "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States shall, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance……"

For information:
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Phone: 800-669-4000 (connect to the nearest EEOC field office)
TDD: 800-669-6820
Information about filing an ADA complaint; contacting field offices
http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/howtofil.html
Information for federal employees including Sec. 501
http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/fs-fed.html

Reasonable Accommodation

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires an employer with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodation for individuals with disabilities, unless it would cause undue hardship. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way a job is performed that enables a person with a disability to enjoy equal employment opportunities. There are three categories of "reasonable accommodations": (a) changes to a job application process ; (b) changes to the work environment, or to the way a job is usually done ;(c) changes that enable an employee with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment (such as access to training).

For information:

Job Accommodation Network, (JAN)
West Virginia University
PO Box 6080
Morgantown, WV 26506-6080
Phone: 1-800-526-7234 (V/TTY)
http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu/
E-mail: jan@jan.wvu.edu
Provide the following information:
  • the limitations and abilities of the individual in question
  • the specifics of the job task(s) at issue,
  • what accommodations (if any) have been implemented or considered
  • the state from where you are calling
  • a phone number and the best time to call

Education

Public elementary and secondary education systems and institutions are covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 was enacted on a strong bipartisan basis. IDEA ’97 focuses on teaching and learning, and established high expectations for disabled children to achieve real educational results. The focus of IDEA changed from one that merely provided disabled children access to an education to one that improves results for all children in our education system. IDEA ‘97 strengthened the role of parents in educational planning and decision making on behalf of their children. The law also reduces the burden of unnecessary paperwork for teachers and school administrators. IDEA was reauthorized in 2004.

For information:

U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Customer Service Team
550 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202-1100
Telephone: 1-800-421-3481
TDD: 877-521-2172
Fax: 202-245-6840
E-mail: OCR@ed.gov

Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights Complaint Process; online complaint form
www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html

Protecting Students with Disabilities: Frequently Asked Questions about Section 504 and the Education of Children with Disabilities
www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/504faq.html?exp=0

Disability Discrimination Resources
www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/disabilityresources.html?exp=0

Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html?src=oc

Title II/Section 504 complaint form (available in printable HTML format)
www.usdoj.gov/crt/ada/t2cmpfrm.htm

Public postsecondary education systems are covered by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Private postsecondary education systems are covered by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

For information:

Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Phone: 800-514-0301
TDD: 800-514-0383

Filing complaints:

U.S. Department of Justice
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20035-6738

ADA home page
www.ada.gov

ADA Regulations and Technical Assistance Material (available in print, accessible formats, and by fax back)
www.ada.gov/publicat.htm


State and Local Government Miscellaneous Services (see Employment, Education, Transportation, and Housing); Access to Places of Public Accommodation


State and local government miscellaneous services are covered by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Generally speaking, under Title II of the ADA individuals who are blind, deaf-blind, or visually impaired may not be denied full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations provided by a state or local government or place of public accommodation. In other words, entities such as hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, government agencies, retail establishments, restaurants, hotels, day-care centers, and professional offices of health care providers must ensure that persons who are blind, deaf-blind, or visually impaired have an equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from all of the goods and services provided by such entities. This may mean, depending on the circumstances, that policies or procedures must be modified, discriminatory eligibility criteria eliminated, auxiliary aids and services provided, or structural communication barriers removed in existing facilities. For example, structural communication barriers may be eliminated by using tactile and contrasting signage. Barriers to the acquisition of information may be eliminated through the provision of auxiliary aids and services. Auxiliary aids and services that may be provided include, but are not limited to, readers, taped texts, braille materials, and acquisition or modification of equipment.

Places of public accommodation are covered by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12181), prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and requires places of public accommodation and commercial facilities to be designed, constructed, and altered in compliance with the established accessibility standards.

For information:

Department of Justice
Phone: 800-514-0301
TDD: 800-514-0383

Filing complaints:

U.S. Department of Justice
Disability Rights Section
Civil Rights Division
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20035-6738

Title II/Section 504 complaint form (available in printable HTML format)
www.ada.gov/t2cmpfrm.htm

How to File a Title III Complaint
www.ada.gov/t3compfm.htm

ADA home page
www.ada.gov

ADA Regulations and Technical Assistance Material (available in print, accessible formats, and by fax back)
www.ada.gov/publicat.htm

ADAAG (Americans with Disabilities Accessibility Guidelines)

Making facilities accessible (e.g., braille signage) is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). ADAAG sets requirements for accessibility to buildings and facilities by individuals with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. ADAAG contains requirements for accessibility features such as detectable warnings, braille and large print signage, and accessible elevator controls.

For technical assistance or complaints:

Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board)
1331 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: 202-272-5434
TTY: 202-272-5449
800-872-2253
TTY: 800-993-2822
Fax: 202-272-5447
E-mail: info@access-board.gov
10:00 am - 5:30 pm EST
Wednesday 10:00 am - 2:00 pm EST

ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities
http://www.access-board.gov/adaag/html/adaag.htm

Section 255: Telecommunications

Congress amended U.S. telecommunications law in 1996 to require telephones and telephone services to be more accessible. They enacted Section 255 to ensure that new telephones would be designed for use by people with disabilities—including people who are blind or visually impaired. Section 255 applies to all telephone equipment and services—at home, at work, and on the go. The Internet and electronic mail are not currently covered under Section 255.

Although not every product will have all the same access features, Section 255 requires companies to do all that is "readily achievable"—that is, do what they can without much difficulty or expense—to make each product or service accessible. As phones become more complex, Section 255 ensures that you should be able to use your cordless, wireless, business or traditional telephone to manage telephone calls just like sighted users can.

You should be able to make and receive calls and you should also be able to make use of other features commonly found on today's telephones such as call forwarding, caller identification, and three-way calling. You should be able to place calls on hold and retrieve them, set up speed dial and otherwise use telephone features to make and handle calls. . . and do it independently.

For information:

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer Information Bureau
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, Dc 20554
888-225-5322
TDD 888-835-5322
Fax: 202-418-0232
General inquiries: fccinfo@fcc.gov

Information and documents:
http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/dro/section255.html


Section 508: Access to Information

Access to electronic information technology is covered by Sec. 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals. The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology. Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. ‘ 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others.

For information:
The Federal Information Technology Accessibility Initiative is a Federal government interagency effort to offer information and technical assistance to assist in the successful implementation of Section 508.
www.section508.gov/
E-mail: section.508@gsa.gov

Department of Justice
Section 508 Coordinators
Phone: 202-305-8304
TTY: 202-353-8944
Fax: 202-307-1198
E-mail: sec508.questions@usdoj.gov

DOJ's Section 508 web site
www.usdoj.gov/crt/508/

Section 508 standards
The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board)
www.access-board.gov/508.htm

Transportation

Public transportation and paratransit are covered by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Private transportation (e.g., hotel shuttles and over-the-road buses) are covered by Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Complaints received about the design of or accessibility related to traffic lights, curb cuts, median strips, ramps, sidewalks, pedestrian crosswalks, interstate and highway restroom facilities, parking spaces, parking lots, and any other highway-related facility are Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) responsibility. The agency reviews and investigates the complaints and works with the involved state or local organization to resolve the situation.

For information or filing a complaint

Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
Office of Civil Rights
400 7th Street, S.W., Room 4132
Washington, DC 20590
Phone: 202-366-0693; 800-986-9678
Fax: 202-366-1599
E-mail: CivilRights.FHWA@fhwa.dot.gov

Federal Highway Administration. Nondiscrimination
www.fhwa.dot.gov/civilrights/nondis.htm

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has perhaps the biggest responsibility under the law because public transit is used by millions every day to get to and from work, shopping, and recreation. ADA requires that all current and future fixed rail and bus systems across the country be fully accessible; it also requires that supplemental paratransit service be provided -- that is, demand-responsive service for people who cannot access fixed-route service. FTA is in charge of reviewing local transit organizations' plans for meeting this mandate.
For information or filing a complaint:

Department of Transportation
Federal Transit Administration
Office of Civil Rights
400 7th Street, S.W., Room 9102
Washington, DC 20590
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Assistance Line
Phone: 888-446-4511 [Voice]; TDD: 202-366-0153; FIRS: 800-877-8339
E-mail ada.assistance@fta.dot.gov

Federal Transit Administation ADA Information
www.fta.dot.gov/civilrights/civil_rights_2360.html

Rider Complaint Form in HTML
www.fta.dot.gov/civilrights/ada/civil_rights_3889.html

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Paratransit Eligibility Manual
http://ntl.bts.gov/DOCS/ada.html

Airline travel is covered by the Air Carrier Access Act.

The Office of the Secretary, Consumer Affairs Division, ensures access to airports and airlines by people with disabilities. This assurance is provided under the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, which predates ADA but has the same intent. The division monitors airlines' compliance with the act, and it receives and investigates any complaints about access from the public.

In general, air travel raises relatively few accessibility concerns. Airlines are required to accommodate guide animals (e.g., seeing eye dogs) in the passenger cabin whenever possible; they are also required to inform people with hearing impairments about gate and other travel changes. Flight safety information is conveyed in alternative formats for those with hearing and vision impairments.

For information:

U.S. Department of Transportation
Aviation Consumer Protection Div.
400 Seventh Street, SW, Rm 4107, C-75
Washington, DC 20590
Phone: 800-255-1111
202-366-5957 (to record your complaint)

Aviation Consumer Protection Division
http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/
E-mail: airconsumer@ost.dot.gov.
Phone: 800-778-4838 (voice); 800-455-9880 (TTY)

Complaints Alleging Discriminatory Treatment Against Disabled
Travelers Under The Air Carrier Access Act and 14 CFR Part 382
http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/ACAAcomplaint.htm

Housing

Public housing is covered by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Title II covers all programs and services and regulatory activities relating to state and local public housing, and housing assistance and referral. State and local governments: may not refuse to allow a person with a disability to participate in a service, program, or activity because the person has a disability; must eliminate unnecessary eligibility standards or rules that deny individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy their services, programs or activities unless they are "necessary" for the provision of the service, program or activity; must not set requirements that tend to screen out individuals with disabilities; are required to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures that deny equal access to individuals with disabilities, unless a fundamental alteration in the program would result.

For information:

Department of Justice
Phone: 800-514-0301
TDD: 800-514-0383

Filing complaints:

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section
P.O. Box 66738
Washington, DC 20035-6738
www.ada.gov

Title II/Section 504 complaint form (available in printable HTML format
www.ada.gov/t2cmpfrm.htm

Private housing is covered by the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act, as amended in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. Its coverage includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example, financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertising.

The Fair Housing Act requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord with a "no pets" policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the residence. The Fair Housing Act also requires landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. (The landlord is not required to pay for the changes.) The Act further requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. This includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units.

For information or filing complaints:

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
451 7th Street, S.W., Room 5204
Washington, DC 20410-2000
Phone: 800-669-9777

Further information and online and printable PDF format complaint form Web site:
www.hud.gov/complaints/housediscrim.cfm

For a text only version of HUD's web site, go to www.hud.gov/ and click on "text only" link at the top of the page.

Legal Advice

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia (PILCOP)
125 S. 9th St., Suite 700
Philadelphia, PA 19107-9310
Phone: 215-627-7100
www.pilcop.org/

PILCOP focuses their efforts in the areas of the delivery of health care services to children, education funding and quality, the rights of persons with disabilities, environmental health and justice, fair housing, equal employment discrimination and urban policing.

Disability Rights Legal Center
(formerly Western Law Center for Disability Rights)
919 S. Albany Street
Los Angeles, California 90015
Phone: 213-736-8195
E-mail: wlcdr@lls.edu

The mission of the Disability Rights Legal Center is to promote the rights of people with disabilities and the public interest in and awareness of those rights by providing legal and related services. They accomplish this mission through our Civil Rights Litigation Project, Disability Mediation Center, Learning Rights Project, Cancer Legal Resource Center, and Education and Outreach Program.

Disability Rights Advocates
449 15th Street, Suite 303
Oakland, CA94612-2821
Phone: 510-451-8644
E-mail: general@dralegal.org
www.dralegal.org/

Disability Rights Advocates is a national and international non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities. Operated by and established for people with disabilities, DRA pursues its mission through research, education, and legal advocacy. DRA's mission is to ensure dignity, equality, and opportunity for people with all types of disabilities throughout the United States and worldwide.

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
2212 Sixth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
V/TTY: 510-644-2555
Fax: 510-841-8645
E-mail: dredf@dredf.org
www.dredf.org/

Founded in 1979 by people with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF) is a national law and policy center dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities through legislation, litigation, advocacy, technical assistance, and education and training of attorneys, advocates, persons with disabilities, and parents of children with disabilities.

Consumer's Guide to Legal Help on the Internet including Lawyer Referral Service
www.abanet.org/legalservices/findlegalhelp/

Local Legal Aid Society
Check local telephone directory
Some local legal aid societies have web sites

Law clinic at a local law school
Check local telephone directory

Private attorney
Check local telephone Yellow Pages
or see Lawyer Referral Services above


Other Resources

National Disability Rights Network
900 Second Street, NE, Suite 211
Washington, D.C. 20002
Phone: 202-408-9514
Fax: 202-408-9520
E-mail: info@ndrn.org
www.napas.org/

Provides information and referral to protection and advocacy agencies in each state.

IRS Publication 907: Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities
Internal Revenue Service
Phone: 800-829-1040

For the current tax year's issue, go to www.irs.ustreas.gov/ and search for Publication 907 in the Search Forms and Publications search box.

DisabilityInfo.gov is a comprehensive online resource designed to provide people with disabilities with the information they need to know quickly and easily. With just a few clicks, the site provides access to disability-related information and programs available across the government on numerous subjects, including civil rights, education, employment, housing, health, income support, technology, transportation, and community life.
www.disabilityinfo.gov/digov-public/public/DisplayPage.do?parentFolderId=500

USA.gov (formerly FirstGov.gov), the official U.S. gateway to all government information, is the catalyst for a growing electronic government. Our work transcends the traditional boundaries of government and our vision is global connecting the world to all U.S. government information and services.
www.USA.gov/

Federal Citizens Information Center
Have a question about Federal programs, benefits, or services? Each year, FCIC staff handles millions of calls from citizens who are trying to find that elusive answer to their question. Just e-mail FirstGov.gov (http://firstgov.gov/feedback/FeedbackForm.jsp) or call 1-800-333-4636. They have gathered information and resources to help you get the right answer.

Thomas (Library of Congress)
Check on status of legislation; get copies of bills and reports
http://thomas.loc.gov/

AFB Information Center
American Foundation for the Blind
11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300
New York, NY 10001

For general information about blindness and visual impairment

Phone: 1-800-232-5463
E-mail: afbinfo@afb.net
www.afb.org/

AFB Public Policy Center (formerly the Governmental Relations Department)
820 First Street, N.E., Suite 400
Washington, DC 20002

For information about legislation and regulations affecting individuals who are blind or visually impaired

Phone: 202-408-8169
E-mail: afbgov@afb.net
www.afb.org/policy

Updated February 2009

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