Good day, ladies and gentlemen. And welcome to the Open Dialogue with the Department of Justice conference call. At this time all participants are in a listen - only mode. Later we will conduct a question and answer session and instructions will follow at that time. If anyone should require assistance during the conference please press star then 0 on your touchtone telephone. As a reminder, this conference call is being recorded. I would now like to introduce your host for todays conference Ms. Robin Jones, Director of Great Lakes Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You may begin your conference.
Thank you and welcome to everybody who has joined us today whether you are in the Eastern Time zone the central time zone, mountain, wherever you might be. Glad that you were able to join us in this holiday month which is often a challenge for people to get their scheduling but we are happy that you are here today. We are very happy to have this session. This is one of our more popular sessions that people continuously ask us for and this will be an opportunity for you to ask questions of representatives from the Department of Justice disability rights section. And they are poised and ready to take your question I am just going to go over a couple of things because. We do have people joining us using a variety of different of platforms today for those on the telephone, we will have the operator give you instructions in a little while when we are ready to take questions of how to queue yourself in to be able to ask a question and you are welcome to queue yourself in as many as you would like and some of you I know have multiple people in the room and they have multiple questions they would like to ask. We also have people joining us using an online process a webinar known process for connecting using both real-time captioning and also listening to the session and will be asking their questions through the chat area. I will be reading the chat area questions on their behalf so people can go ahead and stream those questions into there and I will convey them to our presentations. For those in the captioning - the webinar area just to let you know again the captioning is available by using the icon at the top of your screen or if you are a keyboard user control F8 you can then adjust the captioning screen as needed for your own viewing. If you would like to customize your view of the overall room so that you can move around in large areas and such go to the view menu at the top drop-down menu and you can choose the screen view that you would like and play around with that with what works for you. As I said earlier questions can be entered into the chat area, you can just type into the chat area. For those using key strokes that is control M and I will be reading your questions back to our presenters. For those you in the webinar room please refrain from using any emotions or hand raising features because that can be distracting to others during this session. As you heard from the operator this session is being recorded. The archive of this session as well as the transcript will be available within five to seven days on the website www.ADA.-.org. Let us move on, and I do want to welcome you to the ADA-Audio conference series which is a collaboration with the ADA National Network a network of ADA centers across the country. We bring you this program on a monthly basis on a variety of different topics today as I said as I mentioned earlier we are featuring the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division disability rights section that is a mouthful. So I am pleased that we have with us today and I will have all of you welcome at this time our speakers and they are Allison Nichol who is the chief of the disability rights section I will go ahead and introduce Allison and she will go ahead and introduce her cohorts which are Sally Conway who is a deputy chief, as well as, Jim Bostrom also a deputy chief. So they will be introduced in a few minutes. Allison is the chief of the disability rights section, she assumed that position once John Woddatch, who many of you are familiar with stepped down this past June. She has been with the disability rights section for a period of time. She has been with the Department of Justice since 1994. And she has served as lead counsel in some of the departments ADA cases prior to that she was a trial attorney with the Chicago district office of the equal opportunity Commission so she has some roots here where the Great Lakes center is located and she was counsel in the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Charles Buffalo versus AAIC security investigations case which was the very first case in the nation brought to jury verdict under the Title I of the ADA. So you can tell she has a lot of experience and practice in this area. She is a nationally known trial lawyer and she lectures on ADA issues and trial practice tactics and strategies so we are very happy, Allison, to have you join us. Again you have been with us with on our ADA anniversary session in July so I am glad to welcome back and I will go ahead and turn over the microphone at this time and you can introduce your cohorts from the Department.
I will. Thanks very much and good afternoon everyone. Thank you for having us we are pleased as we can be to be here and I am Allison Nichol the chief of the disability rights section and I am joined by two of my key deputies and I would actually like them if they will to introduce themselves.
Hi I am Jim Bostrom I am a deputy chief my responsibility is to look after the ADA design unit. It is a group of architects accessibility specialists technical specialists and we are also the group that manages ada.gov our website.
thank you and I am Sally Conway and I over see our technical assistance program as well as our ADA mediation program which some of you listening in may have firsthand experience with. I hope you might have and had a successful outcome. You may know of the TA program primarily from the standpoint of the ADA information line. But we also are charged with drafting technical assistance documents, the quarterly or so -- the quarterly or so status report and our online news that is published bi-monthly. And we are awful glad to be here.
Thanks very much. I thought I would just give - take a few minutes I do not want to take too much time because I really do want this to be interactive and this is really your opportunity to speak with us as well as our opportunity to speak with you. And I want to leave as much time for that as possible. But I thought I would just talk about a few things in terms of what the section is working on currently and at least into the near term. I think it will not be a surprise to anyone to learn that we are currently continuing to engage in a great deal of investigation and litigation in the Olmstead area. We have done a good deal of work in this area. And we are poised to go sort of beyond what people think of as traditional Olmstead areas into maybe some of the next phases of Olmstead perhaps on our next call I will be able to talk a little more fully on that. But we are continuing to engage wherever we can on the issues. Both of the institutionalization and getting people placed into communities. But also the reverse of that which is people who are at risk of being institutionalized and preventing that from happening where circumstances permit. So that is an ongoing major priority of the disability rights section. As well as the division as a whole. We continue to make in-roads in education and education is a very broad term and that can include work that we are doing the physical access at campuses. Access to online learning and other web - based learning facilities. Gateway testing. Gateway testing I refer to as things like the MCAT and the LSAT. Tests that you have to get in order to go onto other forms of higher education. And we have done a lot of work not just in getting for instance extra time for people who have learning disabilities. We are involved now in this issue of what kind of technology can individuals who want to assist with these exams use and one of the things that is happening is over time people learn to use computers and technology, people with disabilities, in their college environment. And then you come to these gateway tests and they want you to go back to a different way of taking the tests and not allow you to use your computer, your screen reader and that is causing great difficulty in people being able to demonstrate how well they can achieve on these tests so there is a whole push in that area. And the other push for us right now is there is a good deal going on with children who are on the autism spectrum and their use of service dogs. Use of service dogs is I think a comparatively new tool for young children. I am talking about children who are elementary school-age using service dogs and so they are entering the schools for the first time with service animals and there is some palpable resistance to that so justice is both trying to both educate and get schools to understand that they do have an obligation to allow the students in there with these kinds of service animals. And finally with respect to education, there is very interesting case against the law school admissions Council which I think most people think of as the organization that gives the LSAT examination that gives to lawyers to take before they get into law school. But the other thing that they do is they are really in the business of bundling all applications for law school. So you take the LSAT, you send all of your undergraduate materials and applications to the Law Schools Admissions Council; they send them out to law schools. The problem with their system is it was not accessible. Their online system was simply not accessible. So if you were a person of low vision and/or blind you were unable to use that system in order for you to apply to law school so you had to apply on paper the old-fashioned way thereby immediately identifying yourself as a person with a disability which of course be believe is impermissible. So we partnered with the national Council who went after LSAT but we initially went to some of the law schools that said you should not be accepting applications out of this LSAC system because it is not accessible to everyone. And we have had great success in doing that and LSAC has now agreed to change their process. So again education, a very broad spectrum but always on our list of priorities and of course as you may know we do employment cases against state and local Government employers and that work of course also continues. On the transportation front we have no less than 11 new agreements just in the past 60 days regarding the accessibility of interstate bus transportation. We have had great success in this regard, and the expectation that will continue. Of course the built environment issues is always on our list of priority particularly with the new standards but notwithstanding that we are always looking at the environment issues that we can become involved in. Emergency preparedness as you might expect is also a priority of ours. There was a decision in the court in California that was brought against the City of Los Angeles and the City of Los Angeles had essentially done no planning that is not hyperbole or exaggeration. They really had done no planning around how they would evacuate or meet the needs in any way in of sheltering people with disabilities and so that has now heightened the awareness of jurisdictions around this emergency preparedness issue we have had a lot of very good technical assistance in this area and we are continuing to work with jurisdictions including the City of Los Angeles on getting them to understand their obligations in the area of emergency preparedness. I am pleased to tell you that we are soon to approach our 200th project civic access agreement. We just signed 197 so we believe in the next couple of months we will have reached what is really a landmark of project specific access agreements of 200 and of course that project will continue to be a priority of ours. We have done a lot in the area of technical assistance and of course Sally is going to speak to any questions you have about that. But of course with the new standards there are lots of questions and one of the ways we are trying to educate people about that is through our wonderful textbook programs the course includes our website which is being -- always being improved and re designed and in fact we have a separate page now just for the Olmstead work itself so people can -- if that is all you are interested in you can easily access all of the work the department is doing on Olmstead and that is Jim Bostroms bailiwick as well as architectural matters so I just want to give you that sort of brief over view and then I think maybe this is a good time to open the floor for any questions you might have.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you have a question at this time, please press the star then the 1 key on your touch tone telephone. If your question has been answered or you wish to remove yourself from the queue, please press the pound key. Once again if you have a question at this time please press the star then the 1 key on your touch tone telephone.
Thank you and while we are waiting for people to gear up for that I have got some questions that have been submitted electronically. I will go ahead and transmit to you at this time there is a question that is related to the 2010 ADA standards and requirements and regulations that entities proactively bring existing recreational facilities into compliance with the new 2010 standards, related to those features. Can you please discuss how a Title II entity should approach developing a transition plan for this purpose? Can you explain what factors should be considered in determining and documenting technical infeasibility and can you also discuss program access so you basically have three thrown in there together, all related to obviously the standards for recreational facilities and how do entities because they were not previously with the standards that were called in the standards how do entities approach this. So I do not know who wants to take that but kind of a loaded question.
I think we will start with Sally.
How much time do you have? What I will do is try to answer -- it is not going to be as full an answer as you would like. But I think there are a couple of things. One is that when you are talking about the supplemental requirements and no safe harbor and you are talking about the Title II entities, the bottom line is well how do you make the decision on what is it we are going to do that we can afford to do now and set priorities. And I think you know that is whoever asks that question, thank you. Because it is a recognition that you cannot just wait until March 15th of 2012 and all of a sudden boom you are in compliance. So there really is a need. Although the new regs do not specifically require. But just from a practical matter, I do not know and we do not know how a Title II entity can make any of those decisions without having looked at it and considered a number of things. So if you are talking about how do you even begin this process, I think it is that you look at -- and this is going to sound like an over simplification but you look at what programs are you offering. And it does sound simple. But a lot of communities and a lot of especially larger communities really do not know the extent of what it is that they offer. And what kinds of activities are taking place. Remember, its access to the programs, activities and services. So you look at what kind of activities are taking place. Especially in the context of not strictly recreation but of all of the new supplemental requirements. And you figure out where they are. And how do you -- how do people typically come to you and get involved in that program? And we are really talking about not just once they are inside. But how do people arrive. Do people take public transportation? Do people drive? Do people traditionally walk to each location? And again this is assuming that you have multiple locations. If you have only one location where one facility or one location where this activity takes place, that is pretty much a no brainer because that is what you are going to have to look at is what do you need to do to provide program access to that facility. To ensure that people with disabilities have the ability to participate in all of your programs, services and activities when you look at it as a whole. If you have a single location where something is, if you have one park, if you have one swimming pool which for most of you in the audience I am sure is not the case, then you look at that park and you need to make sure that folks have access. But in determining what are you going to start and what are you going to do when, you really have to know where things are, why things are where they are where you have multiple locations. Are there -- are specific locations of things held -- put into communities for a particular reason. For instance, do you have a program that really caters to say it is a neighborhood of perhaps first and second generation Koreans and is it language specific, and have you tailored that program? Say you provide swimming lessons. Or you provide -- I cannot think of anything else within the new requirements. But do you provide that in Korean. So you need to look at who is the audience. How do people get there? And where are duplications of things. And where can you look at to say if you have three things and if people get there the same way they are open at the same time and you know public transportation is available and the exact same programs are offered then do you need to make each of these physically accessible ? The answer is probably no. But when I say that I want to be really clear that really the goal especially now 21 years in after the enactment of the ADA is that as we chip away and chip away and chip away, that all of these facilities, that is the ultimate goal is that people with disabilities can participate in any program activity or service. But I think you need to look at why you have -- what you have, why you have them in that particular area. Who do they serve? And you look at how do people get to that facility. And I think that will help you determine what things do you know because they are so specified that you cannot duplicate that service somewhere else. Then you know where you have to look at to removing structural barriers if you cannot achieve program access differently. I know there was another part of that question.
It was really around I think the issue of specifically the recreational. I think you talked about was the program access part of the question. And then there was the transition plan process part of that question. And the factors to consider technical infeasibility was the one that you did not address.
The transition plan. There is just a couple of things that I want to say and I am going to have -- I would really like Jim to talk about the technical infeasibility issues. But the transition plan or whatever you call it, a plan.
And can you just clarify one more time that the new regs do not require the same self evaluation and transition plan that existed under 1991 because there has been a lot of confusion under that particular issue.
Those sections were not changed. So there is not a specific requirement to do a new self evaluation or to do a new transition plan. So if you look at the language, it talks about the transition plan. You know structural changes have to be made as expeditiously as possible but no later than January of 1995 but the reality is for Title II entities is that in order for them to get to a point where they can make a plan and they are also going to no matter what it is, it is going to probably have to be some structural changes made and in order to get that built into the capital budget and the planning budget you are going to need to have some kind of a plan that sets out when are we going to do this ? Who is in charge? And I think that is the most important thing that people have to be thinking about. And then follow through. And the thing with the transition plan is that it is also a show of good faith. That you did not just say oh to heck with it we will wait until somebody comes after us. It really is a show of good faith and that you are trying. And certainly given budgetary considerations a lot of communities whether they are large or small are not going to be able to do all of these things at one time. But the transition plan or again whatever you call it needs to set out markers. And it needs to set out priorities. So that if somebody comes back as of March 15th of 2012 you know three months from tomorrow right or Thursday that you can say look here is what we have been trying to do. And that is just a show of good faith if in fact you follow through on that.
To pick up on technically infeasible that is actually a concept that is been around since the beginning of the ADA. And it has bearing in this issue, too because when you start looking at existing physical conditions sometimes you are going to have conditions that you cannot change. And this gives you the ability to be able to have certain criteria that you can use to then make it as accessible as you can. It also might be a situation when you are trying to figure out if you have got several different options maybe it is a pool, maybe it is something else. It may be that one pool you may have a lot of technical infeasibility, that might be an opportunity to get you to think about an -- a different pool. So that is another way that that gets factored in, as well.
Yeah, I think that is a good point, Jim, that technical infeasibility is around a long time I think there is really no scientific way to determine it. It is really the individual entity you need to look at those issues and then to make those particular arguments. Technically infeasible is not that I cannot afford it. That is a different issue what does get mixed up with people is that it could be done but it is too expensive to do everything. That is a different analysis than technical infeasibility because of the structure of the land or infrastructure issues and things that might include our friends on the side of the mountain or something to build.
Robin may I add one more thing the other thing. When Jim is talking about technical and infeasibility there is language that has always been in the regs that says that any Title II entity that basically says they cannot do something. Then, you know, whether it is technically infeasible and you get back to other things of you know undue burdens and those kinds of things, that has to be made -- that decision has to be made by the head of that agency or his or her designee. And it has to be written down somewhere. So it is just not you know one person that may be in a facility somewhere and look eyeballs the pool and says oh my God we cannot do that. People have to remember that yes there are a lot of changes. But really the fundamental underpinnings of the requirements have not changed.
Can you just clarify the deadline and what is the actual deadline of March 15th that you mentioned coming up, et cetera, can you just provide some clarification just to make sure everybody knows and understands everything you mentioned the deadline just go ahead and confirm what that deadline is.
On March 15th and after wards you must use the 2010 standards for new construction and alterations and on March 15th and after wards the 2010 standards becomes the new benchmark for program accessibility and also for barrier removal.
You know, people have to remember they should check our effective date and compliance date piece that we have on -- online at www.ADA.gov because between now and next March people have a choice. If they were not up to speed on -- say they were not in compliance, for instance. I know it hardly ever happens with the 1991 standards. They have a choice to remedy that situation if they are out of compliance. And -- but as -- because we are such nice people we have given people a choice. But that choice goes away as of March 15th 2012. And if people are not having complied with the 1991 standards the only option that is available to them would be the 2010 standards.
And one of the reasons why that is really important is that if you have complied with the 1991 standards or under Title II if you choose to use the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) as well you then would be safe harbored in a number of things and you would not have to change them again until such time that you altered the element or facility. But if you are not in compliance then as of March 15th then any changes you are going to make will have to comply with the 2010 standards.
All right. Thank you. And do we have some questions from the telephone that we can take, anybody who is queued in please.
We have our first question. You may proceed.
Yeah thank you very much Allison it is good to hear you, Jim, I am glad you are still around, Sally good to hear you, too. My first question was under the old as well as the new, would you say, Jim, that a grab bar, specs to and behind a water closest has to be straight or could they angle away to comply.
So I remember the question that you are asking. The configuration for the grab bar at an accessible water closet has not changed and so you still have straight grab bars in the back and you still have straight grab bars on the side. You still have the same inch and a half provision between the wall or what is next to the grab bar and the inside edge of the bar. And the height of the grab bar stays the same. The only changes that have been made is that the overall diameter of the grab bar you have got a little more flexibility.
Great. I appreciate that. Can I ask one more quick one?
Under the new regs could a Title II entity designate a particular area solely for OPDMDs or other power driven mobility devices based on limiting the interference with other hunters and I guess that is a Sally question.
Well, thank you ever so much.
You are welcome.
Are you -- so are you saying -- I want to just make sure before I take a stab at this that there would be an area where only folks who use other power driven mobility devices could hunt and no one else, it would be exclusive for their use?
It could be. But what I am saying is that a particular area is limited to OPDMDs and other hunters, but other hunters can go elsewhere on the property.
Well, I have -- I will tell you what, generally my first instinctual answer is that that absent some other you know legitimate safety requirement issue really is fairly contrary to the civil rights nature of the ADA. So basically you cannot limit people with disabilities just arbitrarily to a certain area or a certain activity. I mean that is -- essentially that is segregation. So that just cannot happen as sort of the failsafe just to say to meet all of our requirements we will make sure that people using other power driven mobility devices are limited to here and it is good enough. I think the answer to that question is no. But the other thing is other power driven mobility devices encompasses a pretty broad class, range of classes of vehicles. And devices. So in order for them to come to any conclusion like that, or whoever the governing body is or whoever is making that decision and would legally be on the hook for that, they still have to go through the analysis of what -- remember what the requirement is. And the requirement is the covered entities whether they are Title II or Title III have to reasonably modify policies to allow people using other power driven mobility devices to use the facilities. And the area. Unless they can you know after going through those four or five conditions -- but at the outset you cannot just make an arbitrary decision. And it may be that some -- in some places you could use segways and in some areas for hunting you couldn''t use a gas - powered ATV so you still have to go through that analysis and determine as a class all areas that are open to hunters how can we accommodate and allow particular classes or all classes of the power driven mobility devices to have full and free access.
Okay, thank you, Sally.
We have another question.
We actually have two questions the first question is both the Title II and Title III regulation clearly state a direct threat standard applies to situations involving harm to others. What is a college or university supposed to do in a situation for a student presenting a threat to self, a student with cutting behavior, multiple suicide attempts or who is extremely anorexic.
This is Allison let me begin to address that. I think the that Department of Education has done a lot of work in this area of direct threat of students both to themselves and others in the wake of some of the things that have been happening on our college campuses so I think the best technical assistance out on those kinds of issues actually is being done by the Department of Education. And if you go on the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights website, which I am sorry I do not have in front of me, but Jim will see if we can find the link for you I would really start there because they deal the most with those kinds of issues in higher education.
Was there a -- another question or second one that you had or only that one.
This is actually the Department of Ed. That is why we are asking this question. (laughter) Sorry.
You are the Department of Education?
Right. No, we are just having-- this question is coming up all of the time in our technical assistance situation. I had a school the other day on the phone with me who had a student who tried to commit suicide four times this year,
this semester and they do not know what to do. We are not -- all we know is it says no threat to self so all we had is a threat to others.
Okay, you know maybe what we should do especially since there is so many privacy concerns around these kinds of issues for individual students maybe that is something that you and I should talk about off line and I am happy to do that.
That was just -- that situation is actually a compilation of about five situations.
I do have part of
I do know the Department of Education and civil rights can maybe come together and look at these issues and put some information out for colleges and universities on this topic if it is coming up on a repeated basis.
I think that is absolutely right and this is one of the things we have been working jointly on for some period of time. But I understand that colleges and universities and even high schools are feeling very challenged in figuring out ways of dealing with students who are in this situation. And we certainly look at it with a great deal of seriousness. And there are a lot of people who are working on coming up with guidance for schools. But it is ultimately the Department of Education who will most likely take the lead and has in the past taken the lead on that. But I am happy to talk more in-depth about specifics off line.
Okay. And we have another question. Actually two. We understand that the Title II and Title III they are basically the same. They talk about service animals. And that is fine. And then there is the issue of the comfort animal and we have seen the litigation in the housing situation. What about an affirmative accommodation duty for a service animal -- for more of a comfort animal for a student with a disability in say a classroom setting?
Well the way we analyze the question of service animals the first question is always is it a service animal. And a service animal is protected. A service animal is an animal that in fact provides a service to the person with a disability. People are you know of course most usual circumstances for someone who is blind but there are service animals that provide services as well beyond that now there are service animals that can as I said earlier help perform functions for kids on the autism spectrum. There are seizure alert dogs. There are hearing dogs. There are dogs that carry and fetch. So service animals come in a wide variety and sense of what they are trained to do. The Fair Housing Act has a different definition of service animal because the Fair Housing Act is dealing with a different environment than we are. What you can and cannot allow in the confines of somebodys home is very different than what you might allow in public accommodations or public settings so they have a different definition than we do under the ADA. A comfort animal, if the sole purpose of the animal is for comfort and the animal does not actually perform something -- do something for the person, then that is probably not going to be seen as a service animal under our definition under Title II and Title III. But you are correct that fair housing has a different definition because they are dealing in a different environment than we are.
I think this is something that the ADA centers hear a lot and this is Robin speaking is that we have a lot of calls because you do on occasion have the dual issue of dormitory where individuals are residing and which does have some of those -- that dual coverage of community fair housing and the ADA and then you have got that same person potentially going into that -- bringing that comfort animal or emotional support animal into the classroom which now Fair housing ends and ADA picks up so there is that struggle from the campus environment just as it is in the general environment how does that distinction get made much more complex in a campus environment where everyone is together whereas in the general application you are dealing with that persons issues across the whole spectrum like a store does not know that I have that animal in my house.
Absolutely and I am glad you said that. You certainly could have a situation where it would be permissible to have a comfort animal one might suppose in that -- that you could keep in the dorm and also have a rule that says the animal cannot be taken to class or into the public spaces because that is governed by the ADA. So you are right. I mean you could have a situation in which you have an animal but it cannot accompany you to class and we would say a comfort animal is solely for comfort is the kind of animal that under the ADA would not be permissible to bring that animal or they would -- I mean if the college wants to do it that is one thing but the Federal law would not require that that animal would be allowed in public places on campus.
All right. We have another question. You may proceed.
Yeah I was just curious if ya''ll were looking into any cases or have any complaints filed with any of the different states voter ID laws and if that is coming up against any ADA rules.
This is Allison. I have -- I do not believe that we here in the disability rights section have had complaints held about that the voting -- we have a different section of the civil ---- the voting section -- the Civil Rights Division who would probably be dealing with any complaints about that issue now if they were to come up across a disability issue contained in one of those complaints they would certainly notify us but so far that has not been my experience.
This is Robin can I ask for clarification are you speaking in reference to the accessibility of that process or what specific were you potentially alluding to on that.
The accessibility on it. We have concerns that the availability of voting for people with disabilities to get to the different locations and be able to -- we are just wondering if that is impeding the process for individuals to vote.
If it is, if you are hearing that and -- anecdotally that may be true I have not seen any complaints that have said that.
Okay. Thank you.
This is Robin. I know that many of the states you know dealing with help America vote act and many of the protection advocacy agencies and things in the various states have been actively issued -- involved in the issue of actual accessibility to the voting site on the day of voting but that would be a different issue from the registration process which obviously has to happen prior to the actual date of voting. So that is something that you know we have not in our own gotten called on that particular issue but we do get a lot of calls on the actual accessibility of voting for the day of voting in our office which does obviously become an ADA issue under Title II if it is a program service of the Title II entities.
We hear on disability rights of Philadelphia being the largest with 1,200 polling places have done a lot of work on physical access to polling places and our voting section has done a lot on the accessibility of the machines, as well under that. But let me just say to the questioner, you know, if you know of circumstances under which people with disabilities are unable to access the sites in order to get the IDs they need for voting that is certainly something that the justice department needs to know about.
And I think that is good segue where we had people ask about the complaint process maybe this is a time and you can do explanation about process they have has some people online question saying could you explain the online process how complaints are actually made to your agency and then secondly as a follow-up to that could you give some insight into the complaints that you might be currently working on in regards to any major area that the department is currently looking at or exploring not without getting specifics obviously but I know sometimes you have sometimes had initiatives that have targeted certain industries or certain areas.
Well this is Allison let me talk a little bit about the complaint process. We get complaints in a number of ways. The easiest way to send a complaint to us is to you know sit down and write it up and mail it to us. We get lots of complaints by mail. We get some complaints by e-mail. We get some complaints because someone will have gone to a Disability Rights Organization that they are use to dealing with. And say this happened to me and the organization will on behalf of the individual send that complaint to us. And actually we get -- we become involved in some cases because people call us and ask us to become involved in their cases. I cannot see -- do you want to run through that with them.
No, go ahead.
Okay. And I am sorry. So there are a variety of ways that you can get complaints to us. You can -- I am sorry; now I am off track. You can write us a letter. You can send us an e-mail. You can go through a Disability Rights Organization if you are more comfortable doing that. And if you have frankly a complaint about something that has happened to you and you are unsure whether or not it would come say to the justice department or to the Department of Education or to the Department of the interior I mean it is very hard to sort of blend your way through the Federal Government and we understand that so we often get complaints that really do not stay in the disability rights section because really they need to go to the Department of Education or really they need to go to the Department of Transportation so we have people here who kind of sort through all of that and then we will send you a letter saying we read your complaint. But really it needed to go to the Department of Education so that is where it is been sent. Once we get those, of course they are all read and examined. And unfortunately we do not have the capacity to open an investigate every complaint we receive. We open and investigate as many as we can. We also run an incredible mediation program. So -- and many people will write in now with their complaint and say: I would like this to go to mediation. And Sally can talk a little bit more in-depth about the mediation program it is a very effective efficient manner in which you can do problem solving without the sort of lengthy process of having to go through a complete investigation and lawsuit it can also be very, very time coming so I will have Sally talk about that a little. So we get a -- complaints from a variety of sources and what we do is examine them for are they in an area we consider to be a priority. Not everything can be a priority all of the time. Otherwise you really have no priorities. So we look at them for priority. We look at them you know anything that is like sort of an essential service you know being turned away from a doctors office not being provided a sign language interpreter in the emergency room things that are all of a more critical nature obviously those would be opened and we open and process as many as we can. Many people will say that at times the process seems to take longer than it should and I think that is a fair criticism. But I think we work as efficiently and as quickly as we can. So we get complaints in a variety of ways. There is no magic language you have to use. You do not need a lawyer. You can certainly just write to us on your own and I want to turn to Sally for just a minute to talk a little more in-depth about the mediation program.
Thanks, Allison. As Allison said when we get complaints and they are first initially reviewed and they are looked at by all of the deputies and Lisa Levine the mediation program officer to make some determinations. And when we see a complaint that number one either the writer who may or may not be the person with a disability has requested that we refer this to our mediation program or we see a complaint that we think would really be perfect for mediation, in that it is something -- it is a situation where there is not going to be inherent power imbalance. You know an individual that has a complaint against the entire State of California their health and human services department that is going to be a very difficult complaint to balance power. But a lot of these -- these, denial of services. Service animal complaints. Lots and lots of effective communication complaints in doctors offices where there is as you may be very well aware you know the failure or the lack of understanding that that health care provider has an obligation to provide effective communication. Barrier removal. Readily achievable barrier removal is also a really good type of a complaint because it is the relief and the resolution can be somewhat flexible. The types of complaints that we will not consider for mediation is anything that is new construction. Because there is no wiggle room. You either comply with it or you do not. Anything against a really, really large agency that cannot be microed down to get the parties involved and anybody -- anything where there is been a pretty significant history of just maybe the person with the disability has tried and tried and tried and there is just no chance that the other party is going to sit at the table. The -- very quickly the mediation process does in fact take a shorter period of time. Now that is not to see that it is over three weeks after you file a complaint. But it is much quicker. The department is not at the table. And we refer complaints to a contractor which is the key bridge foundation here in Washington. And they have -- there are about 400, 450 mediators. They are professional mediators who have had a lot of experience in some kinds of rights based disputes. And that have completed a course and in most kinds of things. So we can mediate something anywhere in the country. And if it is somebody say you are on vacation and you go to a hotel. You live in Maryland and you went to Chicago, the hotel was not accessible and you filed a complaint. Does it mean you have to -- go there and do the mediation? The answer is no, we have been very, very successful in doing telephonic mediations, as well, like conference calls. The big thing about the mediation process is that it puts the complaining party in some kind of control over the outcome which in a course of investigation we do not represent parties and we do not -- our interest is to represent the United States Governments interest in upholding the Americans with Disabilities Act. And so both parties, the respondent, the entity against which the complaint has been filed and the complaining party the person with a disability literally sit at a table. And the mediator is a neutral third party who works to make sure that everybody is heard that everybody is respected and that the process continues to move forward. There is a couple of things that may be sticking points for folks. The first is that if the -- we first ask the complaining party if they would agree to mediation. And if they do, then we notify the respondent. And remember it is a voluntary process. And we talk at length with the respondent about the benefits of in participating in mediation and the biggest benefit for them is Department of Justice (DOJ) is not right there in their face. When parties agree before mediation can start we ask both parties to sign a mediation agreement. And some of these have sort of the traditional kind of ethical and you know respect issues you agree to treat the other parties with respect. Those kinds of things. This process is a confidential process. And both parties are asked to sign an agreement that they will not disclose the contents of the mediation either work product or what is said in the mediation or the agreement. Unless both parties agree. Because the confidentiality is a very, very important piece in getting people to the table. We have been really successful. Have been around 75 % in the aggregate of the cases that are completed being successfully resolved. And we are -- we used to do just, you know, sort of like a one step where it was one step to get in somewhere. We used to do complaints that on its face was pretty simple. We are doing a lot more complex cases now and we are also doing a -- an awful lot more of mediation of Title II complaints. So if you are interested, you know, you can find some information online. And Lisa Leveine is the person who handles the day-to-day functions of the ADA mediation program. But it is a really good learning tool and it is a wonderful tool for folks who live in perhaps less urban areas and have fewer options where they do their grocery shopping, and where they eat, where they want to go out to the movies and mediation tends to or it is a better chance that that relationship is preserved between the two parties rather than severed the result of you know litigation or the Department of Justice coming in.
This is Allison again let me just clarify a couple of things. The first is we are talking about complaints under Titles II and III of the ADA, if you have an employment discrimination issue you need to go through your local or regional Equal Opportunity office to file a complaint of employment discrimination that will eventually find its way to us but only after they have conducted an investigation and made a finding and I think that is an important thing for everybody to understand. And the other thing I want people to understand is that we do a mix of cases. You may go on our website and see that a lot of attention is given to sort of the larger cases but the fact is we do a lot of individual complaints so no one should ever feel like well the fact that I couldn''t get into my grocery store or my pharmacy or my doctors office, who in Washington D.C. is going to care about that. The fact is we do care about that and we do lots and lots of cases like that every year individual complaints are incredibly important to us and so you should feel if something happened you feel is discriminatory you should absolutely write to the Department of Justice and let us know about that I am just going to ask Jim if he has anything to add about filing complaints and then we will close out that question.
The one thing I was going to add is there is a page on the website called frequently asked questions about filing an ADA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. And so rather than keeping all of this in your head about what you must do that is a good place to go back to if you are like me I come with a very small hard drive and it is really full so I am always looking for ways to go to one place. And that is a good page to keep going back to if you ever need to find out how to file a complaint.
Thank you, while we are waiting for another queue up, let me give you another online question here. We have got a question here about the issues associated with sign language interpreters and things of that nature and some questions and issues related to people being billed for those services. Things like you know going to a funeral parlor, a funeral home and then getting a bill for their insurance or other billing being done for sign language. Can you just speak to that whole issue around that.
I would be happy to. So Title II and Title III entities have obligation s to provide effective communication. And that is including -- up to and including the use of a sign language interpreter to the extent that one is necessary in that particular setting for effective communication. There are lots of things under the ADA which are unclear. This is the one thing that could not be more clear and that is that you cannot charge the individual or the individuals insurance company for the provision of the effective communication or the accommodation that they are seeking. So I can tell you unequivocally that nobody should be receiving a bill for sign language interpreter services that were rendered by a Title II or Title III entity. And a funeral home is just incorrect. And that is a complaint that should be filed with us. There is no gray area here.
Okay. Perfect. All right. Thank you, are there other questions object the phone, please.
We have another question. You may proceed.
I would like to know if (inaudible) years. This is a case of filing that had been three years ago. Is that normal?
I take it this person is saying that they filed a complaint with our office and are you saying there has been no contact from our office during that period of time?
There has been. But there has been -- it is been ongoing for three years.
I can say that --.
Ongoing for three years.
Yes. Okay. The answer to your question is no, it is not uncommon. It depends on the complexity of the case. And the willingness of the respondent to provide information. If you get a respondent and a respondent to us just means the entity that the complaint was filed against who is recalcitrant or unwilling to provide documents it can in fact take a very long time. But as the person who filed the complaint, you certainly should if you are dissatisfied with the amount of feedback from the department on a regular basis about your complaint you should please feel free to contact them and tell them that you want more regular updates.
We have another.
We have another question.
We have a follow-up question. You may proceed.
Yeah, I have a question on reasonable accommodation. That has to do with I am a I -- I work with school 114 and I was under the issue of like can I go back to that school unless I talk to the officer of the public school which is the police of IPS and I have not had any luck of talking to the officers of letting me come back to them when they come back to the public school, school 114.
So you are an employee of the school.
No I am a volunteer I do what they call reasonable accommodation. And I was accused by a parent, but the parents did not bother to tell me to find out what was wrong to put it like this. I was accused of fondling.
And it was accused not actual.
Right. I understand. I mean I think your question is how would you go forward to handle that. I think the school has a right to have you go through whatever process they feel is necessary to ensure you know the safety of their kids. And so I think what you need to do is follow the prescriptions that you were given by the school. Now how you can go about doing that if the person refuses to meet with you I think is a more difficult question. But other than telling you that you need to be persistent, I really cannot give you further advice. I think the school is within its rights in this circumstance.
Well just to clarify what I said it is not the school that is the problem. It is getting a hold of the school counselor of the school ITS police because I cannot go on the school grounds. But I can see the children from that part of the neighborhood association and that is what it was. It was the accused that was not the actual thing.
Right. I understand. So what you need to do I think is be persistent in trying to meet with whoever you need to meet with on the police force.
If I can I qualify Can I ask about the inter active process and talking not about -- a little bit about that in the whole reasonable accommodation.
This does not seem to be a reasonable accommodation situation to me and reasonable accommodation really comes up in the context of when someone is employed by a School District so it is -- if the gentleman who is speaking had been a teacher I am sure there would be a lengthy administrative process as well unrelated to the ADA with this kind of situation but this does not seem to be a reasonable accommodation situation it does not appear as that it appears to me that there is a breakdown of communication at some point of his meeting the people he needs to meet at the Police Department.
And again, it is separating out of what is specifically disability related issue and other issues as well. So again this is not a good forum for us to do one-on-one consultation with people with those kinds of issues. Maybe you could contact the protection advocacy agency in your state or maybe contact for more one-on-one conversation when it is either the Department of Justice TAs number or the regional ADAs center may be able to provide you assistance as well let''s go on are there any other telephone inquiries at this time.
We have a question, you may proceed. If your phone is on mute please unmute your line.
Hi. And I have a question about reasonable accommodation. I currently am dealing with my county metropolitan Housing Authority and I cannot use their rest room. And so I have informed them of this. I put forth a request that they meet with me at a different facility. And they refused. They said that they did some evaluations or they have their facilities evaluated and it met the standards. Now, the problem is that it meets the ambulatory standards, not wheelchair standards. And I am in a wheelchair.
This is Sally this sounds like it is an issue of program access. And I just want -- you said -- this is a Title II entity. Is it when you say -- I need to ask you a question? We are DOJ of course. When you say you cannot use a rest room, where is that rest room?
It is inside the building. There are two stalls. One is not accessible. The other one has the grab bars. But it is not wide enough for -- or long enough for me to get my chair in and close the door behind me.
Okay. This is a great example of program access requirements. And the reason is that there are certain things that you really cannot deliver in a different way. And that would be using -- you know you are not going to go into -- you are not going to relocate and you can go into someones office. And they are required under Title II to make sure that the language in program access says that they have to be accessible and usable by people with disabilities. And it really talks to that because of the inaccessibility or unusability of a Title II facility, you know, they are going to need to look at program access and in situations like restrooms, if there is not another one close by that is accessible, they are very likely going to have to go in and provide a wheelchair accessible stall. Not you know the -- for the long ambulatory stalls or for the long ambulatory stalls and there is a requirement for them to look at that.
Okay because I provided them with the guidelines from the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) specifying the difference between a wheelchair and an ambulatory accessible stall. And they had someone come in and evaluate it and determine that they met the standards but they do not meet the standards for wheelchair accessibility.
This is Jim. What you are also experiencing is that in the 1991 standards there were several options for an accessible toilet that you could use in an alteration. That the standard accessible stall is a wide stall that can be used by wheelchair users and by people who use other kinds of mobility devices. The alteration provisions allowed you to use smaller stalls when it was technically infeasible to provide the big one. And when the standards came out in 1991 that was a carryover of a requirement that had been around for some time since the UFAS came out in 1984. Now we are 20 years into the ADA. And when Sally talks about program accessibility, you need to be thinking that it is not only meeting the absolute minimums of what is in the standards but it is making your program, service or activity accessible and if you have people coming to be a part of that program, service or activity that are wheelchair users and that have to be there for some period of time you are going to have to provide an accessible stall.
And I think that goes into another question that was asked, Jim, that was related to was the alternate stall eliminated in the 2010 standards and why so I think that gets into the confusion people have as you are saying there were different actions depending on what people were looking at and when you talk about compliance new construction versus existing facilities.
And if you have been doing this a long time that you go back to actually back to 1980 where we had the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard and back in that time providing any kind of alternative for an accessible toilet was part of the -- the overall education process, if you will of trying to explain to people what you had to do. Now we are in 2011 and the reason the 2010 standards do not have these alternate stalls is they did not work number 1 and number 2 with technical infeasibility you got an out there but the reality is what you need to be trying to get to is using a standard accessible stall.
And this is Sally and I just want to read to you the -- just directly from the regs the language and the language is really, really important. That talks about the type of -- the discrimination that is prohibited under program access no qualified individual with a disability shall because of public entitys facilities are in accessible to or unusable by individuals with disabilities and I think that is really important language. And I would encourage you if you do not have the regs already --.
I have them.
You have them. Okay. Look in the guidance to that. Look in the language in the back of the book for the guidance. It sets out some really good language that is not in regulatory language. But I think that is really, really important.
We need to move on, I am sorry we have got only 15 minutes left and we have got a lot of other questions and such. I would, again, you know people from a follow-up were -- we are not able to do a lot of individualized questions in this situation. For personal circumstances and scenarios. We would really encourage you to contact either the regional ADA center at 800-949-4232 telephone number or the department services TA lines is also available and as an option and Sally and company can give that number if they wish to.
We have a question. You may proceed
Go ahead, please.
Can you describe to me the process the department uses to decide what kind of cases it will investigate?
Well I can in broad strokes. A lot of that is internal governmental is deliberation which of course is privileged but in broad strokes I think I talked early on about a set of priorities that we have at any given time. And so we are always looking for things that kind of fit within our priority list. And that priority list of course is elastic. It changes over time. And some things make their way on to the priority list that we could not really have anticipated. One good example of that is same style movie theaters someone on the outside came up with a design about how to redesign all of the movie theaters in the country that essentially in the process left out people who use wheelchairs among others and so we had to pull resources, considerable resources actually into making sure that we could stop that at the beginning so that we were just not retrofitting every movie theater America so some priorities are sort of thrust upon us for lack of a better way of talking about that. The other good example of that of course is electronic technology and eReaders. The manufacturer of which is sort of beyond our reach under the ADA. But the deployment of the readers and colleges and universities and other settings and libraries we have to devote resources to that now because we cannot have all of this technology being deployed by Title III and Title II entities because it is not accessible to readers who are blind and have low vision. And so sometimes outside circumstances also play a role in case selection. In addition to that of course we meet regularly with organizations that represent people in the disability community to have a complete understanding of all of the entire landscape of issues that people are facing. We try to account for those in the setting of priorities and devoting our resources it is incredibly important to us as I said earlier to have a mix of small and large cases we certainly do a lot of individual cases as well as a lot of large impact cases and so that is you know -- those are the basic in terms of demographics you know we -- you can see in our PCA agreements we do everything from very small towns to very large cities. So we try to have a set of priorities but also ensure that we are choosing to do cases that serve the entire population of people with a wide variety of disabilities and that is essentially -- I mean that really is essentially our process.
So I am specifically referring to Olmstead issues related to Medicaid waivers and not just access to waivers but people currently receiving services on waivers and some -- I am kind of curious about once the department has received a complaint, is there an attempt to talk to the operating authority in the state about the complaint prior to making a decision about whether or not that case will be taken? That was kind of -- it is not a mediation. But almost kind of saying this was brought to our attention. You know what I your response to this is.
Well, when we decide to move on a complaint, we can do that in a variety of ways. It is true that sometimes not specific to Olmstead to be clear that some are very easy to solve. It may be that you can solve some kind of problem with a call, a letter of resolution and others are more complicated. I mean, I cannot - the kind of question you are asking gets a little bit too deeply into the molecular level of how we go about specific complaints and specific areas. So I cannot -- I mean I really cannot give you a more full response to that.
But it would not be uncommon that that kind of thing happened?
Well, again, we look at complaints and do our reflection in looking at a variety of factors. There are some situations that appear to lend themselves wells -- well to mediation. There is some that appear to lend themselves well to a phone call although you would be surprised at the end of how many of those phone calls you actually end up opening an investigation because of a problem you thought would be easily solved that proves to not be the case. So I would say there are fewer in that category than there are in cases where we open investigation in a more formal manner.
We need to move on. I have got some additional questions here that I want to get to. I have got a question here specifically for you, Jim, someone is asking about any follow-up that is planned you are doing with the summer reports on construction for surface accessibility with regards to engaging architects or a contractor community on built environment compliance is there any follow-up or anything happening with that.
We do not have anything formal happening with that right now. The 2010 standards do provide a little bit different level of detail in the issue of dimensional provinces. There is also a lot more information provided that explains ranges of things as opposed to absolute numbers. And I guess the thing that we tell people all the time is when you have a situation where you have a maximum for example and the maximum slope of a ramp, if the maximum slope is called out as 1 to 12 and if the architect designs it at 1 to 12 you can pretty much be sure when it gets built in the field it will be too steep what a number of people are doing is they are not designing to a maximum in the 2010 standards when you have a max and min there is no dimensional tolerance for that and the idea is you want to be trying to shoot for somewhere in the middle that way you can take into account whether someone is either being a little sloppy or just not paying attention, you are still more likely to get it to work.
Great and to kind of switch gears a little bit here another question submitted electronically we have these two major areas I think that people have been kind of focused in or maybe not enough focusing on, one being the issue of ticketing and the other hotel reservations. Now the ticketing provisions went into effect already, the hotel provisions the changes in reservations and the information hotels need to make available about accessible features and such go into effect on March 15th. The question at hand here is what enforcement work or any related issues technical assistance etcetera are you the Department of Justice engaged in on this particular area because they are new requirements they have a huge impact they have been long standing issues for the disability communities so can you address anything you have going on that.
Sure I will let Sally start with the answer to that question.
Sure, I think there are a couple of things certainly over the past year, 18 months staff has been engaged with you know like the assembly managers and watching of groups and hotels and AHLA to provide information directly to those core groups that are ultimately going to have very significant responsibility. We have created -- and it is available -- a TA document on ticket sales. And we hope that very soon we will have the hotel reservations technical assistance document up. We have begun incorporating these into our trainings in our workshops that we conduct outside of our offices. And I would certainly anticipate that there will be continuing refinements in terms of information that is available to assist entities understand what the law requires but you know equally important what it does not require. So those are ongoing efforts. And we certainly will continue to offer technical assistance in terms of -- it just makes sense. These are new things for folks. And getting them to understand it is the easiest way to make sure you can enforce the ADA.
And on the enforcement side I assume at some point down the road we will begin to receive complaints of people not complying and we will have to look at that time about how -- what we think the best approach is to get the message out that we do intend to enforce this. And you know there are probably a variety of tools that we can use to do that. But that is a little premature. I think you will begin to see that probably in the next six months or so. Maybe a little bit less. I mean and you know I am an optimist by nature so hopefully you know it would be great if we did not receive any complaints because that meant that people understood their responsibilities and they were complying. And I think at least the large entities are paying a lot of attention to this and we have gotten a lot of questions. And that is good. Because that means they are aware of their new responsibilities and they are at least attempting at this juncture you know to be either in compliance or coming quickly into compliance, which is a good thing.
As a follow-up to that I know that some of us that do technical assistance and get questions and stuff like that there are a lot of questions because of increased awareness and heightened awareness in the ticketing area about the wheelchair seating and such. What about situations that people do not use wheelchair but feel they need the features of accessible seating. Do you have any examples of when it would be legitimate for an individual who does not use a wheelchair to access those seats and who wouldn''t be in terms of different kinds of disabilities or the types of needs at all did you have any thoughts or did you in your discussions of the TA and development of that standard and use of that language those that use the accessible features have a specific group in mind and scenarios in length about.
In fact we did. And I think -- we have some language in the TA document. And there is a lot of pretty specific language in the guidance. But really what we are talking about is folks who need the configuration of the accessibility wheelchair seating space. So for example, if there is someone -- and you see this a lot like in arena''s where between rows there is like three inches. So if somebody was unable say -- and I think we cited leg brace s in both the guidance and the TA document. Was unable to bend their legs to be able to use a traditional seat because there was not enough space that would be someone who would have the ability to purchase wheelchair -- a wheelchair accessible seat. Someone who uses the service animal and there is no room under a seat and that service animal cannot be in the aisle, that would be another example of someone in that -- that is specifically mentioned in the regulation guidance. So really typically I think this is something that is really important one is that it is a person with a disability. And two is that they need -- they cannot use the traditional you know straight back chair or sitting in a regular seat. I mean I think those are the things. It is that -- you know I kind of like the view from here but I can otherwise use different seats. It is not simply a preference. But it is that other seating options will not work for them.
Sally that brings us to the issue about low vision and such of that nature and maybe if wheelchair seating is in the front row for example because it is at a level terrain area or a level platform would that or was that discussion at all about that group or encompass related to that group because there will be a lot of questions for people with specific vision issues versus wheelchair from a physical perspective.
The important thing to remember is that the ticket sales requirements are related to people who have mobility disabilities. for example, you know aisle seats with removable or foldable arms are not addressed in the ticket sales. So the ticket sales itself is limited to the wheelchair accessible seats and that are required by people with mobility disabilities. Now other kinds of either accommodations, modifications in policy, for example you may have -- modifications in policy for example you may have someone who can get up and down the steps but really needs to be close to an entrance or exit. That is not someone for whom the wheelchair accessible seat would be appropriate. But you can sit them in a different place. Folks who have vision disabilities, you know, you can as an accommodation or under effective communication you can set aside seating perhaps or adjust the policy to allow someone to sit closer. Does it mean they always get the front row? I do not think that answer would be a yes. But that would come under the effective communication requirement. And also policy modification. The ticket sales only, only, only, speaks to people who have disabilities who require the use of the accessible seating.
Okay. Great. Very complex issues so we are at the bottom of the hour. I know there are some other questions. Some people did have some questions related to who fits in the definition of disability under the ADA and that just as a follow-up because I know that is really the whole definition of disability and the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA) and things of that nature can you give an update on where the Department of Justice is on amending your regulations to incorporate the definition of regulatory language developed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and where you stand on that issue.
Let me ask the question this way: The regulatory process is a process I am very circumscribed about what I can say about that but speaking to the broader question of the definition and I tell people this all of the time. I think there are very few open questions now that are left. After the passage of the Amendments Act. As to who is and is not covered. Congress restored the original meaning that they intended out of the ADA which is that the term disability should be viewed very broadly. My own personal view and I think if you read the regulations by the EEOC, I think it is clear that all cancers, seizure disorders, Crohn''s disease, depression, and other situations of that nature along with all of the things we already know diabetes Types 1 and 2. I think there is no question they are covered, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) whether you have symptoms or not, hepatitis, all three A, B and C I think there is no question that there is coverage now. People with kidney disease. Breathing issues. You know, anything that affects essentially in some meaningful way a major bodily system, whether it is your eyesight your hearing your lungs your kidneys, any of those, any of those bodily systems that are affected by a medical condition I think you are now covered under the ADA. And I think the courts who are looking at these questions, again, which are mostly being presented in the employment context, are largely getting it right. They are not getting it right 100% of the time. But I do think that we are moving in a much more positive direction of inclusion for a much broader range of people.
Great, well, thank you, that is I think a good segue and just as a closing comment just because we have a lot of questions about the complaint process can you clarify if someone who is -- who has actually sent in a complaint to the Department of Justice how can they follow up on that if at all and do you make any of those things public other than just your consent decree and the things that you have on your website. But are there any other things of that nature that you do just for clarification of that issue.
I will have Sally start to answer and then I will follow up.
For -- if folks have filed a complaint with us, and if you have gotten a letter that says who -- if your complaint has been opened and who your investigator is, you should be able to call and speak to that investigator. If you are -- you have filed a complaint but you have not yet heard anything from us, as well what you can do is call the ADA information line. And that number is 1-800-514-0301 and for folks who use TTY it is the last -- the last digits are 0383 and the accessibility specialist will take your contact information and we send it we e-mail it directly to folks either in the intake unit who are working on reviewing complaints as they come in, or through the investigations unit and people will get a follow-up phone call.
In terms of what we post on our website, we do not in fact post letters of finding as a general matter. You will find settlement agreements which are agreements entered into without having to go to court. Consent decrees which are agreements entered into agreement after you have filed the case but also if you look at our status reports you will find some of the resolutions that have come out of mediation even if the individuals or companies involved are not identified so there is really a wealth of information in those status reports about the kinds of complaints we have looked at and that we have resolved both through mediation and through more informal measures so yes a lot of that information is in fact public.
Okay and I did provide people the materials there is a link to both your news and status reports so they should be able to access that information. And again just going to your www. ADATA.org website you should be able to access that as well. We are at the end of the session we have gone a little bit over I want to thank everybody for their participates I want to thank our folks on the hot seat today Allison, Sally and Jim for taking and fielding these questions. I want to invite everybody to come back to next month, our next months session is January 17th, 2012 it seems weird to be saying 2012 and it is focused on the 2010 standards because March15th as you heard today is the compliance date. It is just around the corner, the enforcement date. And Erlene Setsker the accessibility specialist with the United States (US) Access Board will be doing kind of a refresh on the 2010 standards and we invite you to join us back for that particular session and more information on that is available at the website www.ada-audio.org. Again I want to thank everybody for your participation. You will receive our link to the evaluation for todays session via e-mail under the e-mail you registered under please fill that out, we do appreciate your feedback. Again, thank you to our presenters, thank you to all of you that joined us today and you may now disconnect you can hang up your phone or you can close the webinar platform by either using the file close at the top or the little disconnect icon at the lower left hand corner, thank you very much, everybody.
Ladies and gentlemen thank you for participating in todays conference. This concludes the program. You may now disconnect and everyone have a wonderful day.