Welcome to our session today. This is actually our second session for the month of August. We held a special session at the beginning of August on the introduction to the new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility guidelines, released in July by the U.S. Access Board, and that was an opportunity for people to get a little preview into what those changes might be and as they go on that session will be available on our website. It is currently available as an audio recording so if you want to access the recording we are in the process of editing the transcript and we should have the transcript up by the end of the week. Today''s session is sponsored by the Disability and Business Technical Assistance Center. This is part of our regular conference series, and our audio conference series, which we are now in our fifth year offering. This is a collaborative of all of ten centers and we offer these sessions on a monthly basis with the exception of the special conferences that we might have depending on the specific topics that arise during the year. We are beginning to round out our year and will be ending our current series in September with a session on September 21. And then we will be getting our 2004-2005 series in October. So, those of you who have been our regular participants and are interested, please continue to join in with us and follow along, because we offer a variety of different topics on a variety of different issues at a fairly low cost method. This is an FYI, this session is being real-timed captioned on the internet for those of you that wish to join us in that manner. You can access it off of our website at www.adagreatlakes.org. Follow the links to our programs and services, audio conference, and you will be able to access the captioning. Individuals can ask questions live through the captioning process as well. Before we get started today, just a few reminders about the handouts and materials for this session. Hopefully, everybody has gotten those. We don''t have actual visuals for today that you will see on the internet, however, you do have and should have a set of handouts that were provided by our speaker. There is a power point presentation and you should have gotten a hard copy of that with two slides per page and our speaker will be following along with that. In addition, our speaker has provided us numerous resource information about publications and such and she will mention a few of those during the presentation. There is a wealth of information out there and that has also been provided for you. Again, I will remind you at the end, but we encourage you to participate in the evaluation process. That is what helps you go to have information about the value of these programs, and what might be done to be able assist you in having a better experience in the future. We do encourage you to complete the evaluation and I will again remind you at the end of the session. Without wasting further time, let me move on with the session, and introduce our speaker today. We are honored to have June Isaacson Kailes available to us today for this topic. She is a recognized disability rights advocate, and she is one of the original national leaders in the independent living movement. She is Associate Director of The Center for Disability Issues and Health Professions at Western University of Health Sciences in Pamona, California. She operates a disability consulting practice and consults, writes and trains on ADA implementation, advocacy training and skills building, health and aging with disability, developing and analyzing disability related public policy, planning barrier free meetings, disaster preparedness for people with disabilities, and incorporating universal design and usability principles into existing and new environments. She also publishes widely on disability related topics, including numerous articles, books, book chapters, and training manuals, including "The Guide to Planning Accessible Meetings", "Being a Savvy Healthcare Consumer", "Your Life May Depend on It", "Health, Wellness and Aging with Disability", and "Americans with Disability Act Compliance Guide for Organizations". She is also well known for her national and international work in disaster preparedness for people with disabilities. The California Office for Emergency Safety distributes her publications "Living and Lasting on Shaky Ground", "Earthquake Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities", and "Creating a Disaster Resistant Infrastructure for People at Risk, Including People with Disabilities" is used and published in many countries. Her most recent book, "Emergency Evacuation Preparedness Guide for People with Disabilities and Other Activities and Limitations" is available on the internet and that information is provided as part of your resource materials today with that specific address. She also is a Presidential appointee to the U.S. Access Board and she served at its Chair and Vice-Chair during her tenure with them. She also serves on the boards of the National Council for Independent Living, and California Foundation for Independent Living and was the Executive Director of the Westside Center for Independent Living in Los Angeles. June has a website that has more information about her product and services as well as her involvement in a variety of different activities and you can visit that website to learn more about June and many of her publications and activities at www.jik.com. So, without further adieu, let me turn the session over to June.
Thanks, Robin, and it is good to be here today on a kind of foggy, overcast, marine layer day in Los Angeles. I just wanted to remind the audience that my contact information in case you have questions after the call or you have to leave early is available and that is on slide 2 so you can feel free to e-mail me with any left over concerns, questions, comments, what have you. Some of the slides that I made available, slide 3, just represents some of the publications that Robin has already mentioned as well as slides 4 and 5 which are the disaster publications which never seem to get a great deal of attention, but over the last four or five years, they seem to be hot and I have put where you can get the guide right there on slide 5. That is downloadable in all kinds of accessible formats, as well as PDF. Today, I really want to focus on slide 6, which is the book that Darrell Jones and I wrote in 1992, I think it was. That book was really my idea and it came from my continued frustration regarding continual mistakes that I saw being made repeatedly related to meeting access. So, for today''s call, the objectives are listed on slide 7. Basically, I want to overview some of the access issues to attend to when planning and conducting meetings. That includes space issues, catering issues, written and oral communication issues, tips for presenters, and resources. Now, a caveat here, Robin, and all of you out there, this is basically just a version of successful meeting planning. It is really a pilot to a rather long playing and ever- changing movie. The intended outcomes here are actually to have you all who at some point probably do play a role in the meeting planning to be knowledgeable about what needs to be done to achieve access and really to help you to adopt a commitment to access that gets woven into your meeting planning culture. I thought today it might be helpful to focus on some of the most common mistakes. But before I do, I would like you all to just take a moment and make your own list. I would like you to list at least ten mistakes that you think are commonly made related to accessible meetings. Either list those or make a mental list in your head. Well, I know some of you are probably still in the process of doing this, so feel free to continue. I am going to start by reviewing some of these mistakes of which I think I have listed about 25. I could have gone on and on but I had to limit myself. Slide 9 is where I am right now. The first common mistake is that accessible meeting planning is only really targeted at the unfortunate few, quote unquote, and that really is not the case. The U.S. Census, actually reports about 1 in 5 people in this country have a disability, visual, hearing, mobility, cognitive or other. So accessible meeting planning makes sense. It affects many people''s ability to comfortably participate in a meeting and for some it affects their ability to participate at all. So, the other major issue which we are not going to focus on today is including people with disabilities is also the law under the ADA, and that is a big motivator as well. So, common mistake number 2 and I am on slide 10, relates to the lack of using checklists when you are involved in meeting planning. You know, all our memories are faulty. It is hard to remember everything. And even if we are an user, or a person with a disability, our personal experience may be a bit biased. And it is very important when we do meeting planning that we have a cross disability perspective. Now, I would like to say that the devil in meeting planning is really in the details. So number one, there are many site survey tools that are available. And two excellent survey tools are actually included in the meeting plan book. One is a checklist for existing facilities and the other is a readily achievable self-evaluation checklist. That one should be used when your meetings include overnight stays and you may need to look at sleeping room access. The other helpful checklist in the existing meeting guide is a backward planning calendar that helps you to not miss anything as you start out months in advance of planning for a larger meeting. Also on your resource list, which is in one of your handouts under publications, the first one listed is an accessibility checklist for events and meetings. That is kind of a companion piece to the accessible meeting planning book and it is a piece that is really quite helpful for people who are a little more sophisticated about accessible meeting planning and just need a good checklist to make sure they don''t miss anything. Let us see, common mistake number - I think we are on number 3, is never, ever, ever take a facility''s word for their access. You need to always do an on-site survey, an inspection, and if you are not comfortable, don''t feel you can do it, don''t feel you are qualified to do it, make sure you contract with qualified people with disabilities who have a cross disability focus and really know the access laws, both the state laws and federal laws, as well as what is involved by state with communication axis, which we will cover a bit later. Again, checklists are very, very important. Another element I just want to mention quickly and slide 12 reminds me to mention it, is sometimes when you have a meeting where there will be a number of people with disabilities attending you can negotiate temporary fixes with the meeting facility. For example, sometimes there is just not going to be enough parking if they are having a major meeting, so a temporary negotiated fix may be to have the facility temporarily re-stripe, using tape, creating more accessible parking spaces as well as putting up temporary signage. That is a rather easy and inexpensive fix. Sometimes on older properties where rooms have not been labeled with Braille sometimes you can do a temporary labeling using Braille as a way to make sure people can find their guest room. Also in terms of chemical sensitivities we often forget that other temporary fixes relate to, well, first of all, chemical sensitivities are indeed a growing issue for many people in our country and these people usually have significant allergies to a variety of scented and cleaning products and one temporary fix to accommodate people is to negotiate with the meeting facility ahead of time that during the meeting they will refrain from using scented cleaners or chemical products or routine building maintenance like painting or that kind of thing. Also common fix is to disable the scent emitting mechanisms that often are found in bathrooms. They are fragrance emitting. I forget the exact names of those mechanisms. Slide 13 reminds me to relate to another common mistake which is people forgetting to look at the surrounding area of the meeting, a path of travel from bus routes, from parking on street closures that are closed for repairs and construction. All these things can play major access havoc if they are not looked at ahead of time. So it is good to ask the meeting facility is anything expected or is anything planned? Have they been notified of any of this because it could be a major barrier for many. Transportation issues is another common mistake, which is forgetting to take them into account. For example, airports more in the rural areas, but jet waves can be problematic if you are having a lot of people who are mobility aid users and have difficulty with steps. So, it is important to make sure that when available that the facilities are on accessible public transportation routes, because that is a less expensive way to get to a lot of meetings and if it is not on an accessible route that there are private transportation carriers that are accessible and just as important as accessible, reliable. A common mistake 6 is that when facilities like hotels do offer free transportation to and from the airport, or other transportation venues, they sometimes don''t have accessible equipment themselves, and if that is the case, they are either under obligation to lease such equipment for the meeting or to provide alternatives and if the alternatives cost and everyone else is getting free transportation to and from the meeting, then that meeting facility must reimburse the users for any expenses they have related to getting accessible transportation to the meeting facility. Also it is important to look at the access of food courts and eating places in the surrounding area, just to make sure that they are, they indeed are accessible if your group is going to be relying on them for eating options. Slide 14, accessible room, common mistake here is forgetting to count to make sure there will be enough accessible rooms and to communicate the details of what is available to the potential audience. A huge mistake made by hotels, even though it is not legal is that they often fail to guarantee the reservations for accessible rooms, and one way you as a meeting planner can reinforce that issue is to make sure they know they need to honor those reservations and you can actually reinforce that in the contract and build penalties into the contract if that does not happen. i.e., They must find a room, pay for it, and provide transportation. This has been a major issue over the years. It is beginning to get a little better but it is not something that can be forgotten in terms of an important detail to attend to. Terms of communication access issue, slide 16, TTY access is a must and is sometimes overlooked as something that is needed so that people can access the public phones. Now, a temporary fix here, because some older properties believe it or not still don''t have TTY access in their phone banks is to provide a TTY at an accessible location for users because often properties do have TTY''s. The problem is that unless you are prepared for it ahead of time you will get a response from some of the properties that say something like, "Gee, I know they are here somewhere!" So it is an important thing to think about ahead of time and negotiate a temporary fix if they are not part of the existing phone bank. Of course, the test is to make sure it indeed does work. With large meetings one common mistake and I mean large meetings in which there will be many people who use mobility aids is that there is an elevator jam-up often when the meeting takes place over multiple floors and the user has to change levels frequently. That can create a huge problem in terms of moving groups around quickly to get to different workshops. So, we always say when you are anticipating a large group of users who rely on elevators that whenever it is possible make sure that the meeting is on one level or minimize the number of levels that you can use for the meeting. In terms of auxiliary aids and services and communication access, this includes a variety of elements, use of qualified interpreters, providing materials in alternate formats. I have mentioned TTY''s, use of assisted listening systems, captioning of videos and films as well as audio description and use of computer assisted real-time transcription when requested. There are a variety of listening systems available. Slide 20 and 21 provides you a sample of some systems. But again, these can be negotiated with the meeting facility and are often part of the audio/visual contracts but are very important to make sure that you attend to and provide particularly when requested by participants. Qualified interpreters, again, this is something that you can anticipate by asking people about on a registration form as to how many anticipated qualified interpreters you may indeed need. And if the meeting is a large meeting or a walk-in meeting where registration ahead of time is not required then it is prudent to have qualified interpreters available if you are not sure who indeed will be attending or what their needs may be. Cart is also something that slide 23 is more and more frequently requested and that is not always known to the general public, but basically it is real-time reporters trained at court reporters with terminology and abbreviations programmed into the software, and the text is immediately displayed on a video monitor or projection screen. Forget the word medical in that slide. It is a slide that was used in another venue. I didn''t mean to keep that in there. But it is most commonly used by people who are hard of hearing or people who do not know signs. Usually people acquire their hearing loss later on in life. And one problem that I have experienced is the quality of the transcription can vary considerably so when you can check out references to get a handle on the quality of the service that you are about to contract with. Another common mistake is forgetting to caption or not having captioned videos that are shown. That is important to also take into account when you are first buying films or videos to request from the vendor that they are indeed captioned. A newer issue but just as important provided less in the captioning is audio description. That is basically a narration that enables people with no or partial vision to hear narration that is either interspersed throughout parts of the narrative or comes across on headsets. Basically, audio description narrates parts of the videos that are actions, graphics, settings or scene changes that don''t have an audio component to them. Everybody sees them. So, when films, videos, slides are not audio described then it is important to provide that for anybody in the audience who may need to have access to the visual elements of video that may not be apparent if they are just listening to the media. Slide 27 reminds to tell you another common mistake is when meetings are advertised on websites that are not accessible. We don''t have time to go into what constitutes accessibility for websites today, but just know it is important and more and more large meetings are using the internet to do the registrations on line. It is very important that website access is indeed attended to. Slide 28, common mistake is not pre-planning to make sure that hand-outs are in alternative formats, i.e., Braille, large print, audio cassettes, or disk, and good practice is to make sure that anything that is created as a hand-out remains in text form so it can be easily converted to a Braille-ready or text-ready file. Slide 29 is one of my pet peeves and that is nametag access. Of course, for those that are see the tags, I call it trash on the nametags. I am sure all of you have seen nametags that are full of everything in that your name and location is like the smallest print on the nametag after you get around the flowers and the logos and everything else. So, remember, name tags are exactly that. Get to know who you are talking to. Remove some of the junk that litters a nametag. And remember to provide a way to hang it around your neck because those clips and pins are often not usable by many people with motor related and dexterity related disabilities. Slide 30, if you are having a big meeting with a lot of people with a variety of disabilities and communication access and alternate format issues, it is a good idea to have an accessibility booth to make sure that interpreters are at the right meetings, Braille copies get handed out to the right people. It is a good way to coordinate everything in one place. Room set ups like 31 are often also a very common overlooked area lack of access. Slides 32-33 to me represent the gridlock or sardine effect. Rooms that are filled up with tiny little aisles that are difficult for people without disability to negotiate. Narrow aisles, making a way through a jungle, and for mobility aid users, it renders people no choice except to sit in the back. Or maybe the front, but then if they do, they will never get out if they need to go to a rest room or take a break or what have you. So attention to meeting room access is really critical. Slide 34 illustrates when we have got mobility aid users set up for banquets and rounds there is an importance of adequate aisle width. Slide 36 for a classroom style set up, and what is critical in terms of access is that people have a choice of where they sit. As you see in this diagram, not only is there attention to aisle width being wide enough - five feet minimum, but there is dispersed seating so people have the choice of front, back and middle, what have you. And the same for slide 37, theater style seating as well, attention to aisle width and attention to choice and disbursed seating is very important for people. Slide 38 represents another very common access mistake and that is providing access to the platform. Often, I have seen pretty embarrassing situations when one of the speakers is a wheelchair user and there is no ramp, or there is another mobility aid and there is no railing or the ramp has a steep drop-off on one side. I had an experience once, the ramp being kind of a tightrope over an area with just a plank laying across the expanse with no guardrails on either side. I literally felt like I was rolling over a tightrope and I needed to attend very carefully. Also, a common mistake in terms of platforms is not providing room in the space for the interpreters. So ramps, ramps with railings, ramps that don''t have drop offs on one side that are unsafe, are important to attend to. Slide 39 illustrates a common mistake regarding different kinds of registration and exhibit area access. Lower counters are very important in terms of filling out materials, negotiating the registration process, accessing the message center. Often, it is forgotten but it is an important access issue. Slide 48 illustrates another common mistake and barrier. When exhibitors don''t attend to access and in a lot of the exhibit halls, I am sure you have seen the counter height that can be extremely high on the left hand side of that slide. Typically, they are assuming everybody that is going to be using their computer display is standing. Not the case. On the right-hand side, poster areas and round tables can be another area of access barriers because of lack of adequate aisle width, and again, it is kind of a jungle experience out there. Slide 41 reminds me to talk a little bit about some of the mistakes related to using microphones and speakers. It is people. I don''t know what the problem is, but people hate using microphones to ask their questions in the audience, and it is imperative speakers remind the audience to do so, and it is not just to amplify their voice, but to create access for anybody using an assistive listening device. So it is important that to the audience that the speaker remind them to do that if audience mics are not available, then to remind speakers to repeat every single question before they begin to answer the question. Quickly, other speaker orientation issues, and there is a checklist for that on the resource list. The second one lists accessibility guidelines for speakers goes into this in a lot more detail, but when you are running a meeting, it is important that you sit down with speakers and just orient them to some basic access issues. For example, to describe all of the visuals and to insure that, well, to remind them ahead of time to avoid what you call slide cramming. Some speakers just don''t seem to understand that slides are for the audience, not for the speaker, So font size is important, a limited number of bullets is important, and people need to follow that and to narrate the contents of all the slides. Odor free pens for flip charts are important particularly because of people with multiple chemical sensitivities can react to the toxic smells of pens. The speakers need to ultimately be reminded that they need to do a quick sweep to evaluate the room set-up one more time to make sure it is accessible, and if it is not, to make some quick changes. With sign language interpreters, remembering to remind speakers that interpreters need to be placed so they can be seen. The lighting needs to be adequate. That they should not be walking in front of the speakers. That they should slow their speaking rate if they tend to be a rapid speaker, and that they should talk to the interpreters ahead of time giving them any handouts. Let them know if they will be using any kinds of unique vocabulary, unusual terms and that kind of thing. And also when you are using interpreters, to allow extra time for the audience to look at the items after you discuss them. Pause, so that people can look away from the interpreter for a moment to see what the visual is. Again, handouts in alternate formats. If the meeting host is not going to be providing that then instructions for the speaker as to what they must do to provide the hands out in alternate formats. Slide 42 reminds me to talk about the common mistake which is in large meetings and smaller meetings the importance of orienting the meeting facility staff related to disability competence use, literacy, and etiquette. For example, at the very top of the illustration, it is just good etiquette for you to come around from the desk or use something that people can write on. That kind of thing. Another meeting facility orientation piece usually hotels are just a reminder about emergency safety. It is really good practice if a hotel asks people when they register to voluntarily self identify if they feel they would like assistance in case of an emergency. It is just good practice and reminds the hotel of the importance of noting who is in a facility, particularly when you have a meeting with lots and lots of people with disabilities. Slide 45, a common mistake made by housekeeping is that they inevitably put their carts in the middle of the hallways blocking accessible routes and they tend to move furniture back around to its original location in rooms and that can create access barriers for people with disabilities who have specifically moved furniture around to create greater access for themselves. Another issue for housekeeping is to refrain from spraying those smelly deodorizers in rooms where there are a lot of people with multiple chemical sensitivities. Slide 46, just a reminder of when you orient the catering staff to make sure that if they do a buffet, or refreshment table, that everything indeed is within reach range and is not elevated. Some of those serving dishes or two tiered tables make things unreachable, particularly for wheelchair users. Buffets can be difficult for people with some disabilities so if they are going to be used and there are going to be a number of people with disabilities it is important to have an adequate number of facility staff to help with access to any of the food that might be difficult for people to negotiate and handle their mobility aid. Slide 47, a very common mistake is for some reason, they think that people with disability don''t exercise and that we don''t need access to fitness centers. Not so. I can''t tell you the number of facilities I have seen where the only access to the fitness center is up or down steps so make sure that is part of your accessible checklist. The fitness center as well as the pool lifting in and out of the pool for people that can''t negotiate steps. Slide 48, for large meetings, integrate field trips into them either for the partners not participating in the workshops or for everybody. So attention to access for field trips is also critical in terms of transportation, interpreters, accessible routes, etc. Any field trips, you need to check access out for those. And again, just to remind you, there is a resource list of a number of items available that will help you to remember this long list of details that I have tried to go over very, very quickly for you. So Robin, I think I will stop here and just take questions.
Great. Thank you very much, June. I know that this is an issue that our office often experiences either because we are a participant in a conference or meeting or we, ourselves maybe coordinating a conference or meeting. I think that there often are two different audiences that we are dealing with and that are those audiences that may be primarily conference targeted or expecting a large population of people with disabilities. For example, a conference that, you know, its target has been a disability issue so that it is expected that you will have a number of participants with disabilities. But then the ones that we find more problems or errors with are those conferences that are not themselves the focus being disability but people with disabilities in the course of their job or in their course of the interest in the topic or whatever, might be attending, and so there is often two audiences that you are dealing with those that may or may not have had any previous experience with disability because they just have not in the past had that as an audience that they have dealt with, or those that do have a lot of experience with disabilities, but once you just get masses or the sheer numbers, it often times presents new challenges that you may not have dealt with in the past.
I think that is a good point. Just good practice is to make sure that any meeting that you have is number one and is in an accessible facility and always include in any pre-registration material with a question that says if you have any particular access needs please indicate here and let us have your e-mail or phone number and we will be in contact. Just to try and get a handle on any kind
Because you necessarily don''t know who your audience is.
That is right. That is right.
Why don''t we have you give some instructions to our audience related to asking questions and then we will open up to those that are participating today.
Thank you. If you have a question at this time please press the 1 key on your touch tone telephone. If your question has been answered and wish to remove yourself from the queue, press the pound key.
Are hotels required to have hydraulic lifts or foyer lifts to get in and out of the pools?
Are they required?
Is it under ADA?
Well under, I believe, under the new, what is it. There is a requirement under the newer edition to Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), but they have just come on board in the last several years. I think, you know, for a lot of large properties, including one I was at over the weekend, purchasing a pool lift is not a major ordeal. It is not a major burden and it is something that can be rather easily accomplished so I recommend that it be something that now being negotiated even if it is an older property where the swimming pools were constructed long before the new requirements went into effect. A lot of these lifts are portable if properties have more than one pool they can be moved to whatever pool the guest chooses to use. So I think it is a contract issue, something you can negotiate into a contract if it doesn''t already exist.
I think it is important to make the clarification here that under the current ADA enforceable standard under Title II and III of the ADA, lifts are not part of the enforceable standard, but the U.S. Access Board, and I think that is what you are referring to did issue some accessibility guidelines related to recreation facilities of which that includes swimming pools and they have provided technical specifications in regards to what an accessible entry into a swimming area and also your spa, kinds of stuff like whirlpools and stuff, would actually look like, but those are not part of the enforceable standard at this time. The currents standard would be access to the pool, i.e., to the deck of the pool, but you can make different argument on Title II of the ADA for program access, but it would be difficult now, even on the new construction to require it.
Robin, that is good clarification. They are in the guidelines, but not yet in the standards. But again, we have had good success in negotiating these things into contracts with the meeting facility and they are open to it, the meeting facility over the weekend I worked with said we have had multiple users of this even before you got here.
Hi, my question concerns accessible hotels. Has the guide been published? I know that at the website for the hotels there will be a mention or icon showing the level of accessibility. But I know that we can''t just rely on that. Has there been an impartial entity like a consumer organization or something that has put out a guide that talks about the most accessible hotels or the chains that are better at complying with the ADA?
No, accessibility is always a moving, changing target, and some hotels that are accessible today, something happens, and tomorrow all of a sudden, there is a major problem. So I would not rely on any particular guide that could get outdated rather quickly. But I would take advantage of the input of disability specific organizations in an area. For example, those of us who are in and out of Washington, DC a lot, we are really aware of the properties there that are, indeed, the most accessible properties. And so the point is sometimes you can consult disability specific groups in your area to get some input and that would be the most current input, but I would still check it out yourself or with a qualified group that can help you to check it out.
I think another thing we find is that when people are calling and asking hotels if they are accessible and such the hotel may perceive themselves accessible because they recently had someone visit that used a wheelchair. Rather than asking more specific questions, they rely on technical information like asking specifically how wide are your doors and things of that nature to get more specification. If they don''t give it to you ask to speak to a manager.
Even then, they think they are answering you accurately, but they really miss important details. There is nothing more important than an on site survey by people you trust and people who know what access really means. There is always the great story of the hotel manager who told the meeting planner that the facility was indeed accessible. Why? Because, at some point, he has seen a wheelchair user in the lobby. So we have to remember that the meaning of access for us can be considerably different than sometimes an uninformed, unoriented staffer or manager.
I am enjoying your presentation very much. I go back to what you talked about regarding interpreters at open meetings. Are you with me? Not too long ago, maybe a couple of years, we had an open meeting in a rural part of Indiana, and we had to hire two interpreters because the meeting was over two hours. They have a rule that two hours, one interpreter, if it is over two, we need two interpreters. The interpreters had to drive five hours to get to the meeting site and no one with a hearing impairment showed up. We waited like an hour and a half, and we released them. Our bill was $1800 because they charged us with what is called portage, which is the time they took to get to the site. Is there any advice that you can give us to overcome those barriers. $1800 for providing interpreters service when we don''t have anybody who needs that service is a big chunk out of our expense for putting on a meeting.
I empathize and have had a similar experience where I provided cart for an eight-hour training on taking charge of your healthcare and the users also did not show up. The only thing I know to do is to reconfirm with the requester a day or two before the meeting. In my case, there was an actual medical emergency so there was nothing to be done. We were informed and we did have to pay a significant bill. I don''t know, Robin. Do you have any other ideas?
I guess a little clarification from the particular person that is asking the question. I think there often is the issue of an open meeting from the concept of, you know, you don''t know who is going to come and you have not necessarily asked in advance.
That is correct. It was a good sized meeting in the paper. It was not an invitation. Anybody could show up, so we did not know who would be coming.
The issue would be to whether or not you have a practice in place that still looks at whether or not, for the purposes of providing communication access as well as access to your materials and things of that nature, whether you would want to have some kind of system of advance notification for the purposes of providing those particular accommodations. This is always a tricky one when it comes down to the issues of what is fair, which often comes into this issue. If anyone can choose to come at the meeting at any time, I can come home from work, decide to go attend the meeting, but yet, when we look at individuals who might need specific accommodations, and may need to make some kind of request in advance, is that fair? But it is also a balance of the resources.
Robin, I just wants to clarify what you said and add that, you know, when there may be a need for cart or need for an interpreter, you are allowed in your meeting notice to request that people give you so many days notice.
That is sufficient in all our dissemination of material to say if you need accommodations, please contact us 72 hours prior to the meeting.
I think we want to make sure we have in all of our meeting notices, and I think that June makes this clear that we need to start building these things in as part of our automatic boiler plate kind of language that we put in all the meeting notices and conference applications and things of that nature is specific information about provisions of reasonable accommodations. Your time frame, that is going to be dependent upon what it may require in that geographic area to provide those services. We strongly encourage a proactive response whereas you made the arrangement for accommodations and set your time frame based on cancellation of those and what it would take to cancel without potential penalty or something of that nature versus trying to scramble to find somebody 48 or 72 hours in advance, when in some geographic areas, that may be near impossible.
That is an excellent point. Just to make the rural case, there are many areas in the country where interpreters may have to fly in or drive many miles in like you stated. In that case, a greater number of days of notification are permitted because of the reality of the limited resources. Pre-planning like Robin said is critical.
I think you misunderstood me. We do hire an interpreter four weeks out, but then 72 hours is a customary time to cancel the service if it is not necessary.
That is what I am saying. You need to find out what the potential cancellation penalties are if you don''t give so much notice. Just like if you get a hotel room, if you don''t cancel in a certain time, you will have a penalty of some type for not doing that. So 72 hours, if that is what would be the issue in your geographic area, then that would be the time frame that you could reasonably look at putting on your notification of must notify us within that period of time the need for accommodations.
Thank you very much. I will let the next person go.
I would like to add that I think we try to especially at the open meetings has been a difficult issue and looking at proactively how we can make sure that people have access and if we can look at a philosophy of making sure there is access but recognizing at the same time there is a cost associated with these things and sometimes when the cost is incurred that may not have been necessary, it could have a negative impact on being able to provide accommodations in the future when they are needed. There is always that balance between, you build a ramp and it will be there as long as you maintain it. Communication is a very different type of accommodation that requires a different response and sometimes a different approach.
My question pertains to cell communication. Is it considered reasonable accommodations to use what we call an Ohio Relay Service. Are you familiar with that?
Is that considered reasonable accommodations in place of the TTD?
Well, perhaps for your organization to communicate with a potential meeting attendee that may work, but at the meeting facility itself it is important that TTY users have access to phones just like everyone else does. That is the meeting access issue. And then, no, the relay service would not suffice because TTY user has to have access to the line.
I realize that. My question was probably -
You are cutting out. We are not able to hear you. Hello?
Okay. I realize that my question may not be centered around meeting accessibility but the point of my question was whether or not using Ohio Relay is still considered a form of telecommunications with people who normally use TTD''s.
I would have to know more about your organization but I can just tell you that if you if your organization provides access to the phones for the people you support or work with, then you must also provide access for TTY user. If you do not, and then, you know, your staff could communicate with somebody who is a TTY user by way of the relay service.
We frequently get questions and callers who ask do I have to purchase a TTY for my office. Do I have to have a TTY at the reception desk or something of that nature, and it gets down to the analysis of what is the method or the type of communication you are having with your clients or customers? So for example, if you have a number for people to be able to call in to ask questions about a conference or events or activity, and really, the nature of the question is asking about availability of tickets or where something is located or what time or something of that nature, then that time of communication could probably be managed effectively through use of the relay system where the individual calling could use the relay system to reach your offices and ask those particular questions. The difference would be then if you go on a site to an actual facility or an actual situation of a building or where an event or such is being held and you have got public phones available where the public is able to access those public phones to make outgoing calls, then you are going to have to look at whether you can provide or are providing equivalent access for someone who is unable to use a traditional telephone system and may need access to the relay through a TTY and whether you would be able to provide TTY access for those individuals to make those outgoing calls.
Does that mean the hotel is responsibility for the TTD at their facility?
June, you want to take that?
Well, the hotel should have TTY''s available particularly if they have phone banks in their facilities that was constructed after ADAAG or some of your state standards went into effect. The reality is that hotels also need to be able to hook up TTY''s in user rooms as well and that remains very problematic within the hotel industry as far as that being a seamless process. A lot of times you are standing there overseeing it being done and they can''t even locate where their TTY is. Robin, do you want to add to that?
I would just add that I think that there is a difference when you look at the hotel and your relationship with the hotel. Many of these things do come down to as June has discussed it and she may elaborate more on it. But, as you develop your contract with the hotels about who is doing what or who is responsibility it is or what is your expectations are. These are some of the things that you obviously would want to cover. You wouldn''t want to automatically make an assumption that the hotel is meeting its obligations under the Americans with Disability Act. So, you probably do want to have a conversation and discussion with them about what capacity they do have to provide, what do they have in place. You may often find that they have a TTY as June said, but they may have no signage up to indicate where you get the TTY. It is available at the front desk. But, nobody knows that. Has the front desk staff been trained on how to provide that or made that available to individuals?
In the hotels, if we have a large meeting room, who is responsible for providing the assistive listening devices - the hotel or who?
The meeting sponsor is responsible for making sure that assistive listening devices are available and that usually is done through negotiations with the meeting facility. You are, obligated to make sure you are providing it and that you have negotiated how it gets provided. With the very small meeting, you may bring in your own little system, but in a larger meeting where you need to sink it, make it compatible with the amplification system, it is usually something that is negotiated into the audio/visual contract, but I would never leave it up to or assume that the meeting facility itself will automatically provide it. I would never do that.
There are requirements in the guidelines for new construction with certain sized facilities that have amplification as part of the infrastructure but they are required to have compatibility with assistive listening devices and there are different requirements for them succeeding or not succeeding but it is definitely something that your larger venues that have as part of their architectural structure some kind of amplification system in place that there would be some compatibility, but it would be something as you would negotiate your audio/visual contract as June indicated, that you would want to make sure was clearly specified is what the need is and you would want to know up front what their capacity was to see whether or not that would be sufficient for users you may have.
Good rule of thumb is to never assume anything. Make sure the facility whether it is new or old that you have what you need. Spell it out in detail.
And I think another one we have run into that is even though they have had it and may have had it available and you might rent it just like you might be renting your overhead projector and other kinds of things, they may not have staff that are familiar with it. Or they have had it and proud about it and boast about it, but they don''t have any batteries for it and the batteries are old and no longer functioning. It is again, trying to work with them on these things that you know while they legally may be required to have them it is the practical side of whether or not they are going to be able to use them functionally or be operated for you that day that is a key part of the equation.
Another important point I want to make, as a responsible meeting planner, it is always key that we check everything out prior to the meeting and the day of. That we never take for granted that they set the meeting room up the way we wanted. That we never take for granted that the microphones or the assistive listening devices are working. That we test it all ahead of time.
If you have an outdoor event and you are renting a stage and the stage company doesn''t provide the ramp would that be an obligation under the ADA given they have the service and they need to think about how they are making it accessible?
You have to remember that there is really, you are dealing with the product and the temporary type of nature. The institute having the conference or meeting has an obligation to insure the events is accessible but that does not necessarily extend to the vendor that you might be using or renting your equipment. For example, not every port-a-potty company is required - there is nothing in the law that says the port-a-potty company has to have an accessible port-a-potty. There is nothing that says that vendor specifically has to have it. It becomes the buyer who or the purchasers of the goods who has the obligation to secure services from an entity who is able to provide them. But there is really nothing that extend to that entity. The sales and services argument which you look at from the ADA - that is the place of sales and service - that means that their facility must be accessible - it does not extend to the goods and services that they may offer. Just as they go to a bookstore they are not required to have books on tape.
Just to reiterate it again, it is your responsibility as the meeting planner to do this. Another analogy is in today''s situation in Florida, it is FEMA''s responsibility and the Red Cross''s responsibility to make sure that any mass feeding stations that may indeed be elevated are accessible and they need to find a vendor that provides that for them.
We found in the area when you start to work with the entities that do the portable ramps, I mean the stages and things of that nature. A lot of it is being driven by the consumer who is asks for those things to be available. It is a business issue and if you make it known to them we are not going to do business with you until you make that available to us, then that becomes a business decision for that entity, etc. But there is not the same kind of a legal obligation. It is not a place of public accommodation that you can make the same argument that they have a product that is accessible. That is a different application.
It is nice to hear this, especially since I work at an interpreter coordinator and have to work on access issues because I happen to use a wheelchair. I would like to respond to the one thing about the interpreters and the expenses. They do get expensive, but something you may want to consider is importing and bringing in with you somebody who can do a double role. Perhaps work at registration or will check into the access issues for you. And something I wanted to offer, if it is a small meeting, we have learned you very often if they don''t have auxiliary or assistive devices your local hearing and speech center usually has some available and usually you can get them at low cost. I wouldn''t say that is true for every place but in many places they are available. I have a personal question, and experience I had at a conference early this year. It happened to be up in the state of Washington and something I had never thought to check into. I had not known that accessible rooms, the water temperature is quite lukewarm. You don''t really get a hot water bath. Have you ever heard of this? Is that allowed?
Yes. Two things: One. Well, going back to the water first. I don''t believe that that is actually an ADAAG standard but in some hotels they do go overboard and they call it a water guard so as to prevent people with limited or lack of sensation from getting scalded. Sometimes the water changes and it gets real hot and it gets cold, hot/cold, but I don''t believe there is any specific requirement for that. And as a user of those rooms on occasion I don''t often experience that as a problem although I have once or twice. Going back to your point about the interpreter serving a dual role and staying and helping out if nobody requires their services, that is kind of a novel fix. I just would warn people that sometimes people feel that they can call on somebody to provide that role who is really isn''t qualified but maybe took one sign language course sometime ago. As long as that caveat is taken care of that they are qualified, I think that is novel. I have never thought to negotiate within the interpreters contract that if no users are at the meeting that they stay and maybe help out in some different way. Robin? You want to add to that.
I was saying that has to be something you would have to negotiate up front. You have to recognize that an interpreter is a professional and they are hired and they have a specific skill and such so I don''t think you would necessarily automatically relegate that person to, well, if you don''t have anybody available, we will put you to work as a secretary or something else. I think that would have to be a definitely negotiated thing. But it is an approach that could be applied, for sure.
What about the water? There is no requirement..
No. There is nothing at all in ADAAG related to that. There is an issue of how pipes are configured so they are not having immediate contact with someone, but that maybe, I don''t know. You said it was in Washington. There may be something in the state code that may be a local type of a thing but it is not something that would be tied directly to the ADA. Maybe something as June said that would be a quote unquote, do-gooder or caution taken by the original entity.
Just a comment on the question about accessible hotels. In those cities that are large enough, like Cincinnati where there is a convention and visitor''s bureau, we have had good luck in working with them, they have a visitor''s guide, one for meeting planners and one for visitors. They list all the hotels and all the different accommodations that are available at various hotels. We successfully got them to work on getting all the hotels to fill out the section they had on there but nobody filled it out on accessibility and accessible rooms. And, while it is not a place to stop, it is a place to start, because it then gives you a list in your town that you can start with and check out their other accessibility features. So, I just thought I would mention that for whatever use it is. And the other thing that effort did is it heightens the awareness and gets those folks on board in being interested in inclusion of everybody.
I think that is a really good point. And your point about it being a starting place is important and that is that when you are going into a strange location that you don''t know well it is good to always ask the visitor centers assistance in helping you to begin to identify accessible hotels. It does a couple things. It not only helps you it makes them aware this is a service they need to be providing any way and they need to attend to it.
I would agree, we have had experiences with some very large conventions that actually give the service or contract with the meeting planning service that actually does the one stop where they handle your reservations, they handle your hotels reservations, they handle your car reservations and everything through kind of an one stop reservation center process and working with them as you set those things up, similar to your local convention bureaus, to get really good clear information about what the accessibility is as a place to start, but still individual wanting to have contact with that individual hotel to find out more specifics is always going to be advisable there, too.
I think a fun thing to look at is huge meetings, for example, American Public Health Association that attract between 15 and 20,000 participants using multiple properties in a city. They do use a service now where the information regarding access in the different hotels is all on line, and actually, some of the properties have actually provided a little video clip, kind of a roam around each room so you can get a real visual about the access which is kind of cutting edge.
Right. Definitely. I think with more technology available, it is easier to do those things. Thank you. It is a great suggestion working with your local visitors bureau, especially in the larger towns that may be "convention cities". But, also benefit in smaller towns where people still come and that information is vital to them and they still may choose to use those places to start like your visitor''s centers and things of that nature, especially if you don''t know the community. You may use the online services like Orbus and things to book but it doesn''t tell that much about the hotel itself. Next question, please?
I have a question about interpreter certification. In Illinois on the part of the local transition training conference, and we are going to be putting on a conference for maybe 200 to 300 school aged students. As part of that conference committee which is comprised of school people and community people and our local department of rehab services, we were discussing the need for interpreters for some of these students and the consensus was that the students would have their own people who sign come with them. But in Illinois, they don''t have to be certified to sign for kids in school, K-12. I am wondering if we are responsible should we not be responsible for providing certified interpreters for something like that? It will be held at a local hotel, not on a school site.
Robin, do you want to take that.
I can take that since you are in my state. But with this whole issue I think there is often confusion on the use of interpreters and the language around interpreters. Laws like the ADA use the terminology of qualified interpreters. It does not use terminlogy of certified interpreters or anything of that nature. So the rule of thumb is that the individual who is providing any type of interpretive services for someone who may use sign language must be qualified and that means they have to be effectively able to communicate with the individual who requires the communication. When you do have state laws that may require individuals to be certified and there are different states that may have some of those language, but obviously, that would be considered a more stringent standard in that state. So you would have to look at the balance and what I think I heard you say and I think I am also aware is that there are some differences in the law with regards to certain audiences, schools or something of that nature. So in that regard, if you meet your ADA obligations, you would have to make sure you had a qualified interpreter and you would still have to look at what your state laws may require for they may be more stringent and would require a higher standard of access. Does that answer your question?
Yes, I think so.
Great. Next question, please? We are almost at the end of the hour.
The question is related to a multiple chemical sensitivity and has to do with remodeling that might be done in the meeting facility. I, for example, was scheduled to speak at a meeting and the hallway that would be the way for me to access the meeting room was being remodeled. I couldn''t go in the meeting room because of the painting and the chemicals used for carpeting and so forth. Basically, it made it inaccessible for me to go in and speak. So they did move the meeting room as a result of that, but that is something I think that needs to be something to be checked on in advance is will there be remodeling, and if so, how will that affect the situation?
I think that is also a very good point and it remains a continuing area needing attention. It seems that no matter how often we ask about maintenance, about painting and about rug cleaning, low and behold, it just kind of happens sometimes and you have got somebody who as a result cannot participate or speak at your meeting and so it needs to be incorporated into the checklist in terms of what gets asked and also perhaps into the contract in terms of they will refrain from doing that in the area for so many days prior to and during the meeting, but those are what I am aware that you can try. Again, it is an imperfect art so far and remains problematic.
Definitely something to include some language in your contracts and things so if something might happen at the last minute, if there is any cost incurred to making those changes you may be able to deflect some of that to some of your contract language. I think that goes back to the enforcement also of having some kind of statement and I know we sometime see this on conference registrations and things of that nature where you again don''t know your audience and may have individuals with chemical sensitivity and is also requesting that your participants refrain from using any strong scents or products for the day of the conference or the time of the conference. I know it is difficult to monitor and police but it is language we often see utilized and encourage to utilize to give sensitivity to those individuals who may have difficulty in crowds or group settings.
I think what is important to add to that is sometimes it is not enough and sometimes just a few paragraphs explaining why this is so critical for some people helps more people understand the importance of refraining from wearing scented products. So sometimes the tag line itself is not enough. But it is important to actually explain it to people because they don''t understand it.
I agree, definitely. An area that a lot of people often times don''t believe exists so it is a disability or impairment that is difficult for many people to substantiate with people to understand. Thank you very much. Unfortunately, we are at the end of our hour and a half today and I am sure there are people who still do have questions that they would love to pick the brain of June or dialogue with all of us about it. Unfortunately, we won''t be able to do that today. June did provide you some information on how to contact her. I think it was on the second slide of her presentation and I know she would welcome your contact. You also can contact your Disability and Business Technical Assistant Center at 1-800-949-4232, both voice and TTY, to further any dialogue or discussion or questions that you may not have had asked and they may be able to lead you to some resources in your geographic areas for some of the topics and issues that we have discussed today. June has given us many different things to think about, as well as resources to follow up and hopefully this for many people is just a start to looking at this. This is something, I think June you said, is just a start. There is always something ongoing like a moving target because there is always something new and different to be anticipated in a meeting or not anticipated or you didn''t anticipate, but you may need to respond to. So I hope this was useful to people. I would like to remind you about our session next months in September, scheduled for September 21. It is how to conduct an access survey related to the actual title is, "Is Your Business Accessible? Conducting an Access Self Assessment, What Do You Need to Consider?" Our speaker next months is Mark Barry, fron Eastlake Associates. He is a consultant and an individual who does a great deal in the area of assisting entities and businesses in surveying and looking at the barriers and how to remove the barriers, so I hope you are able to join us next month and that is on September 21. As I said at the beginning of the session, the session will be available for a digital recording on our website, as well as, a transcript in the next week or so of the session and you can access that at www.adagreatlakes.org (all one word). I thank you for participating, and encourage you to fill out your evaluation form. Hopefully you have those with you, or if you do not, we can also access our on line evaluation form on our website by going to our website and following the links through to programs and services and audio conference. You will see an online evaluation that does help us. It helps our speaker to get some feedback about the contents and about what may have worked or not worked for you as well as giving us some insight into what other topics or future topics you may be interested in. Please feel free to take time to do that. That is valuable information to us and I encourage you to do that. Thanks, everyone, and have a great afternoon, or morning, wherever you are.