Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Anniversary Update: 23 Years Later. 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 while the conference is in progress, please press star then zero on your touchtone telephone to reach an operator. As a reminder this conference is being recorded. I would like to introduce our host for today, Mr. Peter Berg. Please go ahead, sir.
Thank you very much. Welcome, everyone, to one of our most highly anticipated and sessions that we have our greatest number of participation and that is our ADA Anniversary Update session. The ADA Audio Conference is a program of the ADA National Network, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, NIDRR. You may reach your regional ADA Center by calling 800-949-4232. So I just want to go over a couple of items before we get started and turn it over to our speakers today. We have folks joining us from around the country, and we also have participants joining us via telephone and also receiving their audio through the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. There is the option to participate using smart phones, both Android and IPhones. Blackboard Collaborate, there is an app that allows participants to join the audio conference sessions. There are some accessibility issues with the app in that you cannot view the captioning through the online app, but you can download the app through the IPhone app store and through the Android market to participate that way. The captioning for today''s session is provided in the webinar platform room, so for those requiring the captioning feature in order to access today''s session, you can select the captioning icon within the webinar room, and that can be changed and sized to fit your specific needs. For those of you in the webinar platform, you can submit questions into the chat area. You can click on the chat box or use the keystroke function control-M to get into the chat area. You can submit questions throughout the session. While you are unable to view the questions or see the questions you submit, the questions are viewable by the moderators, and we will get to those questions when we get to that portion of today''s presentation. For those of you on the telephone, when we get to the Questions and Answers (Q&A) portion of today''s session, we will bring the Operator back to give instructions on how you can ask questions as well. And for those of you in the webinar platform, you''ve already received instructions on how you can customize the view of the webinar platform. If at any point anyone runs into any issues in the webinar platform, needs -- webinar platform, needs technical assistance, you can click on the Great Lakes in the participant list and submit your feedback through the platform, or you can always give us a call at 877-232-1990 if you have questions. Let''s move on to our speakers for today. We have representatives from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and also the U.S. Department of Justice. They will be providing updates on their enforcement activities around the Americans with Disabilities Act as we approach the 23rd anniversary of the ADA. When they are finished with their updates, you will all have an opportunity to question them and get your difficult questions answered. From the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, we are pleased to have with us Joyce Walker-Jones. She is the Attorney Advisor with the Office of Legal Counsel. From the Department of Justice, we are pleased to have with us Rebecca Bond, who is the Chief of the Disability Rights Section within the Office of Civil Rights; and joining Rebecca today from the Department of Justice is Deputy Chief Sally Conway. At this point, I want to step out of the way and turn it over to Joyce Walker-Jones.
Thank you. Good afternoon. I''ve been asked to give you an update on recent activities, and what I thought I would touch on were four areas, give you a bit of administrative news, talk about more technical assistance activities, discuss a little bit of what our statistics are showing with respect to ADA charges, and end with a focus on our strategic enforcement plan, where Ill highlight where Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is focusing its litigation efforts. So admitted, you may be aware EEOC did not escape the effects of sequestration, so all non-essential EEOC employees were required to take five unpaid leave days between April 22nd and July 1st. We don''t know what, if any, impacts those days will have on EEOC''s operations, for example, you know, charge processing, outreach, or our focus to get rid of the backlog. So I guess we won''t know that for a while. Thankfully, though, we were informed that we don''t have to take any additional days before the end of the fiscal year. We were told to be prepared that we may have to take three additional days. And as you know anytime that employees are not working, then that affects our ability to do the mission for which EEOC was created. Other administrative news, In May, Jenny Yang was sworn in as EEOC''s fifth commissioner. She joins fellow Democrats Berrien and Feldblum as well as Republican commissioners Barker and Lipnic. Commissioner Yang filled the position that was vacated. So we have our full complement of commissioners or a full Board, so that will help in terms of voting on anything that requires a Commission vote, certainly in terms of having representation at our Commission meetings. As far as technical assistance activities, in May, EEOC issued the long-awaited decisions to the four question-and-answer documents on specific disabilities, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, intellectual disabilities. They were issued pursuant to the goal of Commission''s strategic plan to provide up-to-date guidance on requirements of antidiscrimination laws. The documents reflect changes to definition of disability made by the ADA Amendments Act. The other documents are in the process of being revised. And these documents apparently are used both by, you know, employers and HR specialists, and just the general public in terms of answering some of the questions they have about dealing with those particular impairments in the workplace. As far as ADA statistics, although the total number of charges a year received slightly declined from 99,947 in fiscal year 2011 to 99,412 in fiscal year 2012, so a decline of a little more than 500 charges -- ADA charges actually increased, making this the 7th straight year in which ADA charges have increased over the previous year. For most impairments though, the percentages of charges relative to the total number of charges filed has remained relatively constant, although the percentage of charges alleging discrimination on the basis of diabetes slightly declined. And you know, we don''t really know why in terms of looking at statistics what''s happening. We are hoping there''s a decline in charges alleging discrimination on this basis is because employers are now accepting that diabetes is a disability, and they''re willing to provide the requested accommodations, which most times don''t cost anything to provide. Charges alleging anxiety disorder increased almost a percentage point from 5.3% of charges in fiscal year 2011 to 6.1 in fiscal year 2012. Again, we are not sure why, but you know, some people are saying that it''s because we are about to go into an election year or because of the economy. Surprisingly, at least to us, regarded charges have actually declined since their high of 18.2%. The reason we thought those charges might go up is because when the ADA was amended, it drastically changed how regarded as is defined, making it much easier for people to bring regarded as charges. But we have not seen an increase in regarded as charges. Now, I want to talk about EEOC''s national enforcement priorities. As you may be aware, EEOC identified six national enforcement priorities in the strategic enforcement plan. I will highlight three of those priorities. If you are interested in looking more in detail at our strategic enforcement plan, it is on our website at www.eeoc.gov. Pursuant to the goal of eliminating barriers and recruitment and hiring, EEOC is targeting class recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against certain groups, such as people with disabilities. For example, we are challenging employers who refuse to provide reasonable accommodation during the application process. We recently filed a suit against a healthcare facility that refused to provide a different method of drug testing for an applicant who could not do a urine screening due to kidney failure. We provided the possibility of doing drug tests in different ways, for example, doing blood or hair screen. In our outreach, in our litigation, certainly in our technical assistance documents, we are stressing that the accommodation process is one that applies to the application process as well as during employment. Earlier this year, we sued Toys ''R'' United States (US) for failing to provide an interpreter for a deaf applicant during the application process. We are also targeting (inaudible) trafficking, discriminatory practices affecting vulnerable workers who either may be unaware of their rights or reluctant to exercise them. One of our extraordinarily and widely publicized victory was this past May against Henry''s Turkey Service, where we alleged the company violated ADA by discriminating against and harassing 32 intellectually disabled individuals at the manufacturing plant by subjecting them to a decades-long practice of verbal and physical abuse, including offensive name calling, hitting, kicking, substandard living conditions, and paying them wages substantially less than their nondisabled workers. This was our biggest victory to date where the injury, because of the egregiousness of the discrimination, the jury awarded $240 million to EEOC, which was later reduced to the statutory cap. A few other examples of our aggressive pursuit of ADA cases consisting with the goals of our strategic plan include a victory in September 2012. We prevailed against United Airlines, alleging that the airlines is violating ADA by refusing to place workers with disabilities into vacant positions for which they were qualified and instead was requiring them to compete for job postings with employees without disabilities. United Airlines filed a petition for the Supreme Court to review, which they did not. So that means now the 7th Circuit, consistent with the EEOC''s position all along, is that when a person needs an accommodation of reassignment, that person is supposed to be considered for the job, any job for which he or she is qualified, without having to compete with nondisabled employees. So we consider that a pretty big victory. We are also continuing to target policy that is providing for automatic termination of employees who have exhausted maximum leave allotments. Last November we settled a suit against Nationwide Trucking Firm for 4.85 million for having such a leave policy. And in June, a federal district court allowed it to proceed to discovery phase in a class action against UPS, a suit we actually filed in 2009, alleging that the company violated the ADA by terminating employees who exceeded the maximum 12-month leave of absence and refused to provide additional leave or any other accommodations to disabled employees. UPS sought to dismiss the case on the grounds that EEOC did not identify by name some class members, but this decision confirms that EEOC can pursue claims of employment discrimination on behalf of persons whose identities might not be known at the outset of the case. And again, this is huge because with our focus on systemic and class-wide discrimination, this allows us to have a bigger impact by challenging company policies and having those policies changed instead of just pursuing a particular charge of discrimination. Our third priority is addressing emerging and developing issues in equal employment law, including issues associated with significant events, developing theories, new legislation, judicial decisions, and administrative interpretation. Along those lines, we are cracking down on employers when they are contracted healthcare providers asking employees about family medical history. We filed our first two cases under the genetic information nondiscrimination act. But we also discovered those violations in charges of discrimination under the ADA. So it''s really important now that when we look at ADA charges we also look to see if maybe there''s a GINA violation in how the employer either acquired or is using medical information. In May the Commission held a meeting on wellness programs and heard from a panel of experts who urged EEOC to clarify the interplay between wellness programs and antidiscrimination law, particularly the ADA and GINA. So far, all we''ve said is that a wellness program is voluntary if it neither penalizes people for nonparticipation and we have not said whether incentives for participating in the wellness program comply with the ADA. We''ve only looked at it in terms of whether or not the flipside of incentive is a penalty, but many of you are probably aware that under the Affordable Care Act, it allows employers to offer wellness programs that provide incentives. So we''ve been encouraged to issue guidance so that employers don''t feel like they''re violating the ADA if they are in compliance with the ACA. So we are looking at that issue and seeking feedback. We''re taking a closer look at employers'' use of qualification standards. It may screen out employees with disabilities and examining whether more needs to be done to educate employers about the distinction between qualification standards. We say its how a job is usually done, lifting, standing, walking, a lot of those physical qualifications employers require, a lot of times they say that those are essential, but we think that they are qualification standards because the essential functions are the outcome of the job, what actually has to be accomplished. Employers a lot of times confuse those standards. And as a result, don''t realize that if a qualification standard screens someone out on the basis of disability, then they either have to offer an accommodation that allows a person to comply with the qualification standards or allows a person to give reasonable accommodation to perform the job. Because employers are starting to focus less on whether a person meets the definitions of disability and more on alleged acts of discrimination, they are looking at allegations of failure to provide a reasonable accommodation, including accommodations requested for pregnancy-related limitations and direct threat. So in essence, we are getting more to the meat of what the ADA is supposed to be about, and that''s the actual allegations of discrimination more than focusing on whether or not a person is covered. So in a nutshell, I have pretty much summed up what EEOC is doing. If you have not forgotten what I said or you have questions issues that I did not touch on, I would certainly be happy to answer them or try to answer them later in the session. With that, I am going to turn it over to Rebecca from the Department of Justice.
Good afternoon. This is Rebecca Bond, the Chief of the Disability Rights Section, and I am here today with Sally Conway, who is the Deputy Chief for technical assistance and mediation. It''s an honor to speak with all of you and certainly to be on a panel with Joyce Walker-Jones from the EEOC. I very much enjoyed that presentation, learned a lot, took a lot of notes. Thanks very much for that, and again, thanks to Peter Berg and Robin Jones for inviting me to speak with you. In addition to providing you with updates on our enforcement work, I also wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to provide an overview of some of the tools that we have to attain compliance with the law. And then I am going to go into providing you with some enforcement case updates. I know that you''ve had the opportunity to talk with one of my predecessors, John Wodatch, a number of times over the years. I started in this position about four months ago now and being in this position has really provided me with a great opportunity to meet with new people and to learn about the work of various groups, including the ADA National Network. And because I''m so new, I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you a little bit about myself and why I wanted to join you in this field focusing on the rights of people with disabilities. I have been a civil rights lawyer for the Department of Justice for 13 years. I came in as a trial attorney, in our housing and civil enforcement section, and then became a Deputy Chief. One of the lessons that I learned from doing fair housing work, in which we find discrimination on a number of fronts, is how discriminating against an individual based on one trait alone, be that the color of a person''s skin, what house of worship they attend, or any disability that they may have, marginalizes members of that protected class. And I have listened to the stories of people who have faced all types of discrimination, and I really have had the opportunity to see first-hand the pain experienced by those who have been marginalized in that way. Now, as the chief of the Disability Rights Section, I have the opportunity to focus on the rights of people with disabilities and to build on the very strong foundation that was laid by those who came before me, like John Wodatch. And I also have the great fortune to have such a remarkably talented and knowledgeable staff, like Sally who is here with me today. Another lesson I learned from my time doing fair housing work is the value of partnerships. I know that VRS has a longstanding and effective collaboration with the ADA network, and its constituent groups, and I really look forward to the opportunity to build on that relationship, and I would welcome your thoughts and ideas for effective partnerships. In DRS, we have a number of tools to protect and enforce the rights of people with disabilities, and I hope today to touch on those tools and talk to you about our enforcement efforts. One of our tools is our website. On May 17, 2013, we launched our redesign of our website. There are 8,000 files covering more than 2 decades of ADA enforcement. There are technical assistance documents and regulatory materials. It''s www.ada.gov. I encourage you to visit it. I hope that many of you visit it regularly. And responses to our website, thankfully, have been very positive, so that''s been a great experience. We also have a very active technical assistance and mediation program, and Sally heads that up. The technical assistance unit continues to answer record-breaking numbers of ADA-related calls on our information line, and we anticipate putting out some new technical assistance documents on the revised regulations and those should include guidance on effective communication and other power-driven mobility devices. Our mediation program is very active, and we use that to facilitate the resolution of ADA complaints. In addition to our technical assistance unit, we also have a very active regulatory unit. We currently have an NPRM on the ADA Amendments Act that''s pending at Office of Management and Budget (OMB), also the NPRM pending on movie captioning and description. We are moving on NPRM on Web access under both Titles II and III of the ADA. And we are working very closely with the Access Board on the accessibility medical diagnostic equipment standards. I''m going to talk generally in a little bit about some of our enforcement work, but I also want to highlight two specific aspects of that work. We have the U.S. attorney program for ADA enforcement, which is housed in DRS, and through that, we are really able to expand the reach of our enforcement efforts. For more than 15 years, U.S. attorneys have been a critical part of our work. We have 84 U.S. attorneys'' offices across the nation that currently work with us in this partnership, and they''ve resolved hundreds of matters involving core issues ranging from accessible voting, access to places of public accommodation, discriminatory policies, a broad range of different topics. We also have a very active statement of interest practice, also known as our amicus practice. And in those cases, we don''t join lawsuits as a party, but we file briefs in ongoing litigation, and it allows us to take positions on the law. Sometimes we''ll take positions that are in favor of one party''s view, and sometimes they''re just to really clarify things for the court, clarify the law if we feel that that''s needed in a particular case. So we, as a section, are actively engaged in a strategic planning process, and I know that Joyce has mentioned going to their website to look at their strategic plan. I can personally endorse that. I''ve done it many times. I spent a lot of time with EEOC''s strategic plan. It''s a great document and a great model. And so you know, as part of our strategic planning process, I really asked my staff to think about two questions as we begin this process, which are what do we want the world to look like, and what is our job? What is our mission? And we are working on the process now of concretizing that mission and figuring out the priorities that fit within our mission. And I think you get a sense of what that looks like from Joyce''s presentation. And so I want to talk about a few priority areas that certainly have been traditionally are priorities and certainly will be under our new strategic plan. I am going to list some of them. This is not an exhaustive list of our priorities. And time permitting today, I''d like to talk to you about Olmstead, physical access, education, healthcare, daily living and technology, and efforts that we''ve taken in those areas. But I want to be sure, what''s really important to me is that I be able to hear your questions, and so if I am taking too long, I am going to cut myself off, and so that''s no reflection on any of those priorities. So I am going to talk first about some of the Olmstead work that we''ve done. Our Olmstead work is some of the most transformative work that we do in that we''re working to end the tradition of unnecessarily segregating people with disabilities in institutions. And it really has been a major enforcement priority for the section and for the division as a whole, the Civil Rights Division. In Olmstead vs. (inaudible), the Supreme Court recognized for the first time that the civil rights of persons with disabilities are violated when they are unnecessarily segregated from the rest of society. The Division''s enforcement work -- has included investigations, lawsuits, and statements of interest in over 40 cases in 25 states, wells technical assistance documents on the ada.gov/Olmstead website. And I want to tell you about our most recent work in this area. Last month we announced a groundbreaking and innovative settlement agreement between the United States, the State of Rhode Island, and the City of Providence, vindicating rights of approximately 200 individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The focus of the agreement is on integrating people with disabilities into the workplace. The ADA prohibits state and local governments from segregating people with disabilities just because of their disabilities. And 23 years after the ADA, the State of Rhode Island and the City of Providence had a system that left people with disabilities no choice but to be separated from society in the sheltered workshops, Training Through Placement, which was called TTP, and the Harold A. Birch vocational program at Mt. Pleasant high school, which I will refer to as Birch. What does it mean to have no choice? Well, I have an example for you. There''s a man named Steven Porcelli, he worked in a real job after high school at a hardware store, but he could not, for the next 30 years, escape a sheltered workshop setting, where he earned less than $2 an hour doing work that he didn''t even like. Because the state only offered services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in segregated places like TTP, he couldn''t return to integrated employment, even though he asked to leave over and over. The State and TTP made no effort to help in Mr. Porcelli find a job that matched his strengths or interests. TTP frankly had no incentive to do so. The company was a licensed provider of employment services that got paid to have Mr. Porcelli there. It also got paid by outside businesses for its work. Meanwhile, TTP reported paying their workers with disabilities an average hourly wage of $1.57 per hour, with one individual making as little as 14 cents an hour. As a result of its profits and the state''s support, TTP became one of the largest segregated employment and day providers in the state for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Stories like this also played out over decades for many area high schoolers with disabilities. That''s because the Birch Program was essentially a feeder for TTP, a direct pipeline. Most high schoolers spend four years in school. However, students specifically enter Birch at age 14 and do not leave until they are 21. During this time, with very few exceptions, the only work experience they have is in an on-campus sheltered workshop. For seven years, these young people spent one to two hours during each school day -- sometimes longer hours as well as Saturdays -- working on contract piecework, just like at TTP. Students at Birch were paid between 50 cents and $2 per hour, no matter what job function they performed or how productive they were. Some students were paid no wages at all. Because of this training for life in a sheltered workshop, it''s not surprising that in 26 years of operation, less than a handful of individuals transitioned into individual supported employment after leaving Birch. Instead, many ended up at TTP, where they often stayed for decades. One mother of a Birch Student who graduated last month observed that at Birch, her daughter learned to fixate on what she can''t do rather than what she can. And the mother continued that there''s a lot out there that her daughter can do. And I quote, She''s not a failure. She should have opportunities. And we certainly agree with that. Under the agreement, the State will help every person at TTP to find, get, keep, and succeed in real jobs with real wages. They will accomplish this by providing supported employment services. We''re happy to acknowledge that at this moment, Rhode Island has stopped providing services or funding for new participants at TTP sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs and City of Providence stopped providing services or funding to Birch. The U.S. Department of Labor who first alerted us to the problems at TTP is involved, and throughout our investigation, Department of Justice (DOJ) has worked closely with our counterparts to enforce the provisions of the ADA and the fair labor standards act. DOJ and the Department of Labor share the common goal of ensuring people with disabilities receive meaningful employment opportunities and are equitably compensated for their work according to the law. We believe that things are going to change, and hopefully for the better. At the same time, we recognize that unnecessarily segregated employment and day services are the norm in far too many states, and we are going to continue to work hard to fight this type of discrimination and to look for other opportunities to bring these types of cases. I now want to talk to you a little bit about one of the real pillars of full participation in society, which is physical access. The 2010 ADA standards for accessible design became the minimum requirements for new construction, alterations under the ADA on March 15, 2012. The new standards for the first time include requirements for judicial facilities, detention and correctional facilities, and recreational facilities. We expect that with implementation of these accessibility standards, doors will open for full participation in both responsibilities, such as jury duty, and the benefits, such as civic life for people with disabilities. These regulations represent the most significant update and expansion of the legal requirements of the ADA passage 23 years ago. We can continue to look for appropriate vehicles to get the word out about the 2010 standards and how they are to be implemented, interpreted in conjunction with the precursor 1991 standards. One important vehicle is through our statement of interest practice, and we recently assisted on an important decision in the Colorado cross-disability coalition versus Abercrombie and Fitch case in which we entered a statement of interest regarding the appropriate interpretation of the 2010 standards regarding entrances and accessible routes, and that''s available on our website. Another important pillar of full participation and a priority area for us is education. We are continuing to expand our work in the education context under both Title II and Title III of the ADA. Now record numbers of people with disabilities are actively pursuing colleges and graduate degrees -- college and graduate degrees. As a result, we may now retain matters that were formerly required to be sent to designated agencies. I want to talk to you about some of our recent work. On December 20, 2012, we entered into a settlement agreement with Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to ensure that students with celiac disease and other food allergies could fully and equally enjoy the university''s food services. Leslie University previously required all students living on campus to participate and pay for its meal service plan, even if some of the students with severe allergies couldn''t eat the food available through the plan without getting sick. Under the agreement, Lesley had made modifications to its food plan to allow students with food allergies to take advantage of its food services, and the agreement also requires them to consider exempting from its mandatory plan, students who cannot, because of their disability, take full advantage of the plan. Among other things, they agreed to pay $50,000 in compensatory damages to previously identified students who had celiac disease. Many aspects of the agreement we hope will serve as models for other schools particularly that require students to participate in a meal plan. However, we do, indeed, recognize that food service plans, like universities, are not one size fits all and each school should evaluate its food service plan to assess whether reasonable modifications for its students with disabilities are necessary to avoid discrimination. We''ve created a technical assistance document. Again, that''s available on our website, www.ada.gov, to explain the application in other food service settings. Not only are we looking for ways to ensure that students have what they need once they enter school; we''re also looking at ways to ensure that students are able to get into schools in the first place. Last September, we intervened in the department of fair employment and housing versus LSAC, the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), which is a California-wide class action ADA lawsuit. Our complaints and intervention alleges systemic deficiencies in the way LSAC processes applications by persons with disabilities and failure to best ensure test takers can demonstrate their aptitude and achievement rather than their disability. United States further alleges that LSAC unnecessarily flags test scores obtained with certain testing accommodations in a manner that identifies test takers as people with disabilities and discloses otherwise confidential disability-related information to law schools during the admissions process and we''re continuing to litigate that case, and that''s ongoing. On Friday, we filed a statement of interest in a case pending in the district of Nebraska called Creighton versus Argenyi. We filed in support of the plaintiff''s opposition to partial summary judgment, in this case, which challenges the University of Nebraska failure to provide needed auxiliary aids and services to medical students. In its motion, Creighton said as a matter of law, the plaintiff cannot seek damages for an alleged 504 violation. This statement of interest focuses on damages. For the alleged Section 504 because Creighton did not act when it denied plaintiff''s repeated requests for an interpreter during training and captioning such as CART during large lectures. In our statement, we urge the court to reject Creightons arguments as deliberate indifference. The established standard in 8th Circuit requires the plaintiff to show that a violation of a federal right was a plainly obvious consequence of the defendant''s action, and that in addition; it was plainly obvious that the defendant affirmed their defenses, a fundamental alteration, and under burden would also fail. We asked the court to reject Creighton''s reliance on academic deference principles in support of its motion, explaining that genuine issues and material fact exist as to whether or not Creighton''s decision regarding the plaintiff are entitled to academic deference. We just filed that brief last Friday, and hopefully it''s available on our website. And if it isn''t, I''ll make sure that it''s up there. You know, as I mentioned before, our statement of interest practice is very robust, and we''re always on the lookout for opportunities to file statements of interest in federal court, and so we would welcome hearing from you if there are any cases that you are aware of that you think we should file statements of interest in. You know, I have lots more that I can talk about, but I do really want to have the opportunity to hear from all of you and to hear your questions, both for me and for Joyce. So I think I may stop now and let the question-and-answer session start.
Thank you, Rebecca, and thank you, Joyce, for all of that great information. I am going to have the Operator come out in just a moment and give the participants on telephone instructions on how they can ask questions. For those of you in the webinar room, you can submit your questions in the chat area at this point, and you can click on the chat area or control-M is the keystroke to get you into that chat area to submit your questions. While you will be unable to see the questions that you submit, they are viewable by the moderators. So Operator, if you could please come and give instructions for those on the telephone to how they could ask questions at this point, please.
Certainly, Ladies and gentlemen on the telephone, if you do have a question please press star followed by the number 1 key. If your question has been answered or if you''d like to remove yourself from the queue please press the pound key. We do have a phone question.
All right. Go ahead with your question.
Yes, Peter, my question was with filing a statement of interest, how does that help the case? Being handled in court that somebody stepped in to file that?
Okay, Rebecca, I think that one''s for you.
Yeah, I think that is for me. That''s a really good question. You know, and it sort of depends on why it is we''re filing the statement of interest. Sometimes we are filing a statement of interest because the way that the issue was presented before the court somewhat misstates the law. And so we want to go in there, you know. The other name for statement of interest is amicus curiae, which is friend of the court, so we are going in as a friend of the court to say this is the law. This is the proper interpretation of the cases or this is the way the regulations are written, to make sure that the court has the law before. Another way that we reason why we file statements of interest is to take, positions on sort of advising the court as to how it should rule on say a motion for summary judgment, like we did last Friday. So we did both those steps in that case. So we not only took a position on what the standard was for deliberate indifference and said that this plainly obvious standard that the defendants were in, we believed, the wrong standard. But we also went further and said that their motion for summary judgment, under the proper standard, should be denied. And so it''s basically just to assist the court with its rulings and to try to make sure that the courts get the law right.
Thanks very much.
All right. Thanks for that answer. And a question that was submitted early -- and again, this one is for Rebecca and you had mentioned the Department''s work on guidelines and standards for Web access. A person wanted to know when that can be expected and when that rule does come out, will the department be engaging in technical assistance materials, specifically this focus, is talking about in educational setting, for accessible instructional materials as well as platforms.
Actually, I have Sally Conway sitting right here, Deputy Chief for technical assistance, and I am going to let her answer that question.
We absolutely do plan on doing technical assistance, a variety of types and there''s going to be a lot to explain. There is going to be a lot to put into language that me, a technophobe, will understand. PC still means partly cloudy to me. We do plan on all of our rulemaking to ensure that we are doing technical assistance and that we''re also training our folks who are on the information line to respond to calls to what can be a very challenging and complex issue.
To get back to the first part about timings on NPRMs on the Title II and III Web access, I can''t recall, whether or not the fall unified agenda has come out yet the spring unified agenda has come out yet for 2013 with the new dates in it. I can''t give any dates publicly until they are published in the spring unified agenda, so I don''t have that at my fingertips as to whether or not it''s actually been published. We are not the ones who publish that. So I''m not sure whether or not there''s a link to that on our website. I think that there probably is, on proposed regulations that would have a link to the dates that are available in the spring unified agenda.
Great. Operator, do we have another question on the telephone at this time?
I currently see no additional phone questions.
Okay. Take this opportunity, and Joyce, don''t nap on us. We''re going to get some questions for you as well. But Rebecca, if you could just clarify a little that we use the acronym NPRM in your update when you were talking about the ADA Amendments Act and also on captioning, that those are at OMB. If you could just explain to folks NPRM and OMB, and also if you could discuss a little bit more about what the Department of Justice is doing in the area related to the Amendments Act. We know that the EEOC was charged by Congress to write implementing regulations, but what is the Department of Justice up to in that area at this time?
So NPRM is Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and one of the latter steps in the process of coming out with new regulations. So the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, they are still not final, the regulations, but we''ve put that out for notice and comment. So the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking gets published in the Federal Register, then people are able to comment about that. And you know, we can ask questions to the rule. So that''s the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. OMB is the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. So in order for regulations to have the force that they do and for us to have the deference with our regulation that is we have, there''s quite a well-established process that regulations have to go through, including going through OMB, which then can circulate, you know, and get comments on various regulations. So that''s what OMB is is the Office of Management and Budget. And I think Sally was going to handle the second half. The ADA Amendments Act, Peter, that''s what you asked?
Okay. What we are doing is once the EEOC -- and Joyce may want to chime in at any point too -- came out with their regulations relating to the ADA Amendments Act, the Department is also required to make sure that our regulations are now consistent with the changes or what some of us feel is the original intent of the ADA. So we''re making changes to our regulation to reflect the changes imposed by the ADA Amendments Act, and that still goes to the same regulatory process that Rebecca spoke about, and that is at OMB?
Yeah thats been at OMB for a little while.
Very good. Thank you. Operator, any questions on the telephone at this time?
We do have a follow-up from the line with a caller.
Go ahead, caller.
Hi, Peter. Rebecca, I''ve got a question about OPDMBs or other power-driven mobility devices. Specifically whether or not you think that a horse-drawn cart would qualify as an OPDMD under that definition, and specifically I''m asking about the last half of the definition that says any -- or any mobility device designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian route.
It''s Sally. I am going to jump in. How are you?
I think that when you are talking about other power-driven mobility devices, it''s a hard question in a way, of course, and it''s going to be the typical "it depends." I think generally the answer would be no. But it''s really going to depend what function that particular other power-driven device -- and a horse, certainly is some manner of power driven. It''s going to be very fact-specific. I think I am going to go out on a limb, and I am going to say that it may be fairly rare that that would be considered, but I think it''s all going to depend on what the facts are. And I know a little while ago I read a news account of a gentleman that was using this in his backyard and stuff. I don''t know if it''s the same.
No, different deal.
Different deal. So it really is going to depend on whether or not this is a device that someone with a disability, a mobility disability, is using for mobility.
It''s Rebecca, can I just pop in for a second? I come from a litigation background; I am a litigator by trade, so we are always very focused on sort of specific factual scenarios, trying to work through them. I am really curious to know what you are seeing with that and what is it that prompted that question. I work for the Department of Natural Resources. We''ve got a situation where a guy is wanting to go out and utilize some of our properties, and getting around on them, he uses a power chair, and the cart itself is designed so that you can ride the power chair up the ramp in the back and then strap down in this cart and have the horse pulling it around. And I recognize that we still have an obligation under Title II and program accessibility to provide reasonable accommodations. So I think we still have an obligation to allow it. I think it would just be a little easier to define if it fell into the category of OPMD, and then the review process or the manner in which we allow it or don''t is a little bit more clearly defined.
Yeah, this is Sally. I am just going to jump in. I think we are going to have some of these things that are sort of outliers that probably warrant the particular intention of other power driven mobility devices. But it really is going to be case by case, fact specific, and certainly, what other kinds of modifications and policies for folks using land and DNR, you also need to look at what other kinds of changes have been allowed. You know, we see this stuff a lot in hunting programs that states administer.
And it''s also going to impact the wilderness act. I am looking at rules that indicate there is absolutely no wheeled device allowed on wilderness property, period. And it seems like that would, in and of itself, be a problem for anybody with a mobility disability.
Certainly there can be a policy that really looks neutral, but there''s also, remember, the requirement to modify a policy unless it results in fundamental alterations. Maybe you and I can talk offline?
All right, thanks. And I promise, Joyce, I have a question for you.
I am still here.
OMPDs for Rebecca and Sally real quick here. This came in through the webinar room. Do non-electrically powered assistive devices that are not designed specifically for persons with mobility devices covered by the revised regulation? And they give the example of a bike. So would that be considered an OMPD under the revised regulations?
We''ve had questions with bikes and scooters, manually powered scooters for people who have endurance issues. I think the answer is it possibly could be, but it''s really going to depend on the circumstances. Again, you always have to go back to the assessment factors for the class of device itself to see if it can be accommodated. I know that was a typical federal non-answer, but it really does depend on circumstances.
Okay excellent. Thank you. Okay. Joyce, I have a question for you. We are going to give Rebecca and Sally a chance to take a sip of water. And the question regarded your update on the UPS case that EEOC was involved in and talking about the policy change could continue without personal identification of the person with a disability. And the person wanted to know would -- did the person that was discriminated against still have to file the complaint with EEOC or could it be filed on behalf of the person with a disability by, for instance, a coach, a job coach or a family member?
Well, they are sort of two separate questions. Generally, individual complaints of discrimination are filed by a person who is alleging that he or she was discriminated against. But you know, in cases with some disabilities, they certainly can be filed on behalf of the person by a charge. This is not a lawsuit at this point -- by a coach or somebody representing the person. In terms of, you know, the way litigation usually works we get an individual charge. We, EEOC, investigate it. And then we try to mediate it, which means, you know, try to informally settle it. If that doesn''t work, we issue either a right to sue, which allows that particular person to take his or her lawsuit to court, or we''ll sue on behalf of the person. In terms of class action, generally that''s because we''ve discovered a policy, as in UPS, that discriminates against more than one person. In those instances, sometimes the person may not even know whether or not they were discriminated against, that a particular policy discriminated against them. So that means that we sue on behalf of a class of individuals, many of whom, you know, we have identified, and not necessarily because they file charges, but maybe one person filed a charge which alerted us to the policy, and then we, you know, do discovery and realize that this policy was also applied to other people, which usually happens with lead cases. They don''t just apply it to one person. So in those cases, then no, the person then, if they are part of that class, does not have to file, you know, his or her own individual charge. Maybe I spoke too long because I haven''t had a chance to speak, but I hope that answered your question.
Yes, absolutely. While we''ve got you going here, let me follow up with this regarding you talked about the updating of the technical assistance document for specific disabilities. Where is EEOC in the process of updating some of the guidance documents, in particular, definition of disability?
I don''t know. That decision is made above my pay grade in terms of what documents for guidance. I don''t know if there''s been discussion on revising the definition of disability document because we''ve done so many other documents on, you know, how the ADA Amendments Act has broadened the definition of disability. I don''t know if there are plans in the works to update that particular guidance. I do know that we have looked at updating the reasonable accommodation guidance because we know that that''s where the focus is now a lot. Even though we are still seeing a considerable number of decisions on the definition of disability, we are also start to go see more decisions on the merits. So we know there are some issues in the reasonable accommodations guidance that we should probably look at again. We have other guidances out there, the guidance on disability inquiries, medical exam. Right now we have two guidances out, one that''s geared toward applicants and another one that''s geared toward employees. There''s been talk of combining those documents and updating. I mean, what happens with the guidance is we address the issues that we know about, and a lot of those issues we find out about through webinars like this, through our outreach when we go out physically and talk to audiences, they raise questions. And the ADA GINA staff, we take note of those issues and questions. Sometimes we get inquiries, people asking, how does the ADA apply to this particular situation, and we realize that we have not addressed those issues necessarily in our guidance and technical assistance. So we make a determination -- the Commission, does, the commissioners -- as to whether or not we need to look into revising those guidances because our guidances are voted on by the Commission because they become the Commission''s policy. Our technical assistance guidance, on the other hand, the ones I spoke about that we have updated, they apply existing Commission policy. So they are a little easier to get out, although we did tweak them to address some of the questions that we''ve been asked since the initial publication of those documents and make it clear how certain situations apply to people with those disabilities. So again, that''s a long way of saying, again, that we try to be up-to-date on what''s out there on the radar. A lot of things have changed, too, as I said. We issue the documents. Obviously, with the definition of disability, you know the aide Amendments Act came along, so it''s much broader. With some of the other issues, for example, with confidentiality, we are starting to get asked questions about how does it apply to electronic records? As when we wrote the guidance, we were thinking more in terms of people keeping paper records and saying that all medical information had to be kept in a separate file. But now so much stuff is so much information is electronic, we have been asked to, address questions that come up in terms of who should have access, and you know, does it have to be kept where only people who have a need to know have the password to that information? A lot of information is not a single medical record anymore; it''s a person''s whole medical record. So these are issues we are starting to grapple with that we didn''t, in 2000, when we issued the guidance on disability-related employees and medical documents of employees, they weren''t out there yet. Some of it is by passage of time, we are being asked to look at more issues.
Excellent. Thanks, Joyce. Let me get a quick question for you, Rebecca and Sally, before we see if we have any calls on the telephone. This questioner in the webinar room wants to know would Lesley University have been okay if they had allowed students to opt out of their meal-plan? When you talked about that case and the technical assistance document that resulted from that?
Well, I think part of the issue with that case is that they really didn''t have any option to opt out. And we do have a technical assistance document on our website that has some questions and answers dealing directly with what''s required. Cases are so fact-specific, and so, I frankly, wasn''t involved in the decision making and filing that case. But certainly, that was an important fact, you know, that we highlighted in the case was the fact that there was just no other option to get out of it.
Great. Operator, do we have a question on the telephone at this time?
I currently see no additional questions on the phone.
Peter, I am sorry, Sally had a clarification.
I think the other power driven mobility devices with the horse and the cart; I think that for purposes of other power-driven mobility devices, you are not going to get coverage there because I don''t believe that that horse would be considered an engine. And that''s in the definition of other power-driven mobility devices, batteries, fuel, or other engine. However, you still would need to look at that under general modifications of policy, practices, and procedures. So I just wanted to clarify that. I had a little senior moment.
All right, thanks Sally. We have a question regarding in the 2010 standards, we now have accessibility requirements for recreational facilities, and the questioner wants to know if DOJ has any initiatives to look at particular playground surfaces and any technical assistance documents or enforcement in that area of materials used at play grounds that, obviously, need to meet the safety requirements under play equipment but also meet the requirements for accessible routes?
That''s a really hard issue, still, I think, somewhat unresolved. But I think as we do compliance reviews, things like that, I think we''re perhaps paying more attention to play grounds generally over the past year or so. And I would think that we would certainly be looking at -- and I need to talk with Jim Bostrum -- looking at doing some kind of technical assistance to help guide people through this process. Now, I do know that the Access Board has a really good bunch of guidance on recreation facilities as well, and we do work with them a great deal and have for many years. But I think that is something that we really do need to look at and figure out a game plan going forward so that we know exactly what we are looking for, do some technical assistance, and then perhaps follow up with enforcement activity.
Well, and I just wanted to say getting back to Caller Ones very first question about what the value is of statement of interests or amicus participation. All of these types of questions can be opportunities. If there''s litigation that''s pending, if somebody has filed a lawsuit on this or some other issue, that can be an opportunity for the Department to put fort its position and to give its view of the law in the context of an ongoing litigation, and sometimes what is nice about those types of situations is you have a very specific factual situation that you are looking at, so you can sort of weigh in, given that set of facts, and say how the law applies. If there''s litigation pending that''s dealing with some of these issues, need to pick up the phone and call the department and let us know.
Excellent. And that ties into another question that we had, and someone was -- and you were talking specifically about litigation and letters of interest. The questioner through the webinar platform asked about whether or not the Department of Justice would submit a letter of interest regarding a complaint that has been filed with the Department of Education regarding Web accessibility at an educational institution. But from what you are saying, I am thinking that the answer would be no. That would be specific to litigation.
The answer is certainly no. There have been really extreme examples where we have filed amicus briefs or statements of interest in state court, but they are by far the outlier. I don''t know that Disability Rights Section has ever filed one in state court, but I know that the Division has on really extreme circumstances filed them in state court. But I am talking about filing in federal court litigation. And no, we wouldn''t file a document like that with the Department of Education. We are partners with the Department of Education, so if there are issues we want to discuss with them, we have a direct line of communication.
Okay, Excellent! Are there any other questions on the telephone?
Again, if you do have a question, please press star and then 1. I currently see no additional questions.
Okay. While we are waiting for that, Joyce, I am going to go back to you. Just a follow-up on you talked about a shift as a result of the aide Amendments Act and not as much focus on the definition of disability because its been broadened and employers have been directed to interpret the definition broadly and more emphasis on reasonable accommodation. As a result of that, have you seen in the charge process a move away from charges being filed around the definition of disability and other issues being filed such as being qualified or other non-definition related charges?
Most times, whether or not the person has a disability is raised by the court. Obviously, the person filing the charge under the ADA assumes that he or she is covered. So that was never an issue with the charge in parties. It was always an issue brought up by employers to dismiss the case so you don''t get to the merits or by the court who issues summary judgment finding we don''t even get to the merits because this person wasn''t (Inaudible) for this person to be covered. Obviously, Congress clarified that by the ADA Amendments Act by saying yes, indeed, we did intend for people be covered and specifically said that looking at whether a person has a disability, you looked at them without mitigating measures and certainly when we wrote our regulations we clarified that, and also gave a list of certain impairments that should easily seen to be disability. So I think that people filing complaints, we don''t know if more people are filing complaints because they are sure that they are covered. Our guess is that people, when they have been discriminated against or feel that they have to file a complaint because they believe that they have been covered, and that hasn''t changed that much. We don''t know that we are getting more charges because the definition is broader. And that was one of the fears that, with congress broadening the definition of disability, there would be an onslaught of complaints. And when I go out to do speeches and outreach I always tell employers that, there are people who are covered by the ADA who were covered in 1990, who were certainly covered before the definition was broadened, who haven''t filed charges because either they don''t believe they have been discriminated against, they don''t need anything from the employer -- there are many people who work with disabilities, certainly diabetes and epilepsy and mental disabilities and many other physical disabilities - that never bring that to light because they''re not asking for anything. And I think that''s still the case. Just because people are covered or more easily covered doesn''t mean that they''re going to necessarily be filing a complaint. You know, with that being said, I suppose that of some of the complaints being filed, they are being filed by people who feel more assured that they are covered. Even though some district courts, are still debating that issue in terms of how much information a person has to provide about the disability, and still about substantial limitations, although Congress says that''s not supposed to be a high standard to demonstrate. But we are seeing cases still where that''s being debated. There was a recent case that had been remanded about someone who had been diagnosed as having transient ischemic, which are considered mini-strokes, and the court said no, there was no evidence because this person had one mini-stroke that he would have more, and also there was no evidence that this person was substantially limited. I don''t want to say that we are not seeing any cases where that''s still an issue. I think we are just seeing more cases where the merits are being reached.
Excellent Joyce got you another question. With regard to the leave issue and the question that was submitted in advance, a person wants to know whether if the EEOC''s position is that employers need to have an open-ended leave policy with regards to employees with disabilities, or can employers have any type of leave policy that has an end date to it?
I am glad that question was asked because EEOC is not in the business of telling employers how to run their operations. So we always say employers can have any policies that they want to have. However, when those policies are challenged by people with disabilities, and as Rebecca said, by people in other protected groups, they have to be able to defend those policies. So we always say to employers, you can have a leave policy that provides a maximum 12-month leave, but if a person with a disability says: as a reasonable accommodation I need more leave than that, then you have to examine whether or not amending that policy as to that particular person might be a reasonable accommodation, meaning that for that particular person, you have to consider whether or not granting that person additional leave would be an undue hardship. So again, we tell employers you can have whatever policy. We do say as a best practice that if employers are issuing handbooks with that policy outlined that they should at least put a footnote saying that notifying people if a person, you know, needs more leave or a reasonable accommodation, that the company -- employer complies with the ADA. Again, employers can still have those policies. They have to know that they will have to address whether modifying those policies is a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability.
So for instance, in the Super Value settlement, the food store in the Chicago land area, policy that employees returning from workers'' compensation need to return without restrictions as long as they were able to look at employees that could return -- employees with disabilities that could return with reasonable accommodation.
Right. It sort of all ties back to the broadened definition of disability. More and more people who are out on workers'' compensation or workers'' comp injuries may also be individuals with disabilities now under the ADA; whereas, prior to the amendments, maybe that might not have been the case, that a workers'' comp injury may not have constituted disability under the ADA. So we do caution employers that, when they have these policies now, they are likely to be challenged. But they can have them, just like qualification standards. We say that employers can have whatever qualification standards they believe are job related and consistent with business necessity. But if someone challenges a qualification standard, and says that that particular standard screens them out -- you may be aware, many of you listening, to the big brouhaha over an -- an answer to an informal discussion letter that we got about high school diplomas, and the reaction was, oh, EEOC says employers can''t require applicants to have a high school diploma. That is not what we said. We said that when a person with a disability challenge that they can do challenges a high school diploma requirement but can show they can do the job despite not having a high school diploma -- they have to be screened out because of their disability. They can''t just say well, I didn''t like school and so therefore I didn''t go. That doesn''t screen the person out based on disability. But if a person can show that the reason they don''t have a high school diploma is that they were screened out because of disability, either because the school system did not provide adequate accommodations for the person with a disability, and therefore, they never finished school or they dropped out because of that, then the employer has to show as to that person that certainly having a high school diploma was a job-related necessity and that either the person still -- you know, can only do that job by having a high school diploma. So again, that''s an instance where we said you can have whatever policies you want, but you have to be able to defend those policies when they''re challenged.
Another one for you, Joyce regarding medical records and confidentiality. Would an employee with a disability need to show that the employer disclosed that medical information, and then would they also need to show that there was some type of adverse employment action? So is the disclosure of the medical information in and of itself considered discriminatory under the ADA and the EEOC Regulations?
Certainly, EEOC considers the disclosure itself as being the harm. There are, probably a few district courts that say that they have to show that there was some other harm that ensued because the employer disclosed that information, but EEOC''s policy has always been the disclosure itself is actionable. Whats interesting now is that, you know, we are starting to get questions. I mean, there are certain disclosures of medical information, and I think that, arguably are in violation of the ADA. I mean there are still some courts that say it depends on how the employer got the information, whether or not they''re disclosing information that they feel is generally known throughout the workplace, violation, and we still say that there is, even if somebody voluntarily discloses their medical condition, their employer cannot disclose that information. Interestingly, we are getting questions about what''s considered medical information. Is anything about a person''s health medical information? Or, are there certain kinds of disclosures innocuous enough that they''re not considered disclosure of medical information? For example, we got -- we had a lively debate about whether or not disclosing that somebody is pregnant, is that disclosing medical information, and we were kind of divided on that. So EEOC has not taken official policy position on whether such disclosure that somebody is pregnant is a violation. So it''s really sort of interesting, because like I said earlier, it wasn''t possible for us to conceive of every issue that might arise when we were writing any of our guidances and so now we''re seeing that, okay, in this area, people are starting to have questions. And I think the issue about medical information and what can or cannot be disclosed, obviously, has been I won''t say complicated, but now you have to look at it in context of GINA, which prohibits employers from acquiring family medical history. For example, specifically so that means that now employers are paying -- we know that there''s a general prohibition on that. It doesn''t matter what you do with it. Just the asking of it or acquiring it is the violation. So we are asking how does that intersect with obtaining medical information under the ADA? A big change is that under the ADA, it used to be permissible for employers to ask for any medical information. Obviously, if they withdrew the offer based on medical information, they had to show the reason for withdrawal was job related and consistent with business necessity. But now under GINA, they can''t ask for family medical history post offer. So we are having to tell employers that I don''t care the way you''ve been doing things under the ADA, now there is GINA, and that says you can''t ask for family medical history, period.
Great. Ill check one more time to see if we have any questions on the telephone.
I still see no further phone questions.
Alright, we will go back to Rebecca and Sally, related to new revised requirements with Department of Justice regulations for hotel reservations and new requirements around ticketing. And whether or not you''ve seen any type of increase in complaints around these new requirements and whether or not there are any specific initiatives that the Department may be undertaking in those areas.
Peter, this is Sally. I think generally the answer is we have not seen many complaints at all relating to hotel reservations. We have, I think, probably gotten a handful on ticketing. And I also know for us, at least on the information line here, we have gotten very, very few questions on this. Now, out in the real world, things may be totally different.
Okay. And this is for both EEOC and for DOJ -- around the process of filing a complaint with the federal agencies. And this questioner indicates that sometimes they found that it can take a while to get a response regarding complaints filed with those agencies, filing with you, and if you could comment on that, obviously, man power and budgets have a lot to do with that, but if you could both comment on that.
Yeah, I think man power and budget are good excuses, and I think that we certainly use those excuses. I mean, I think you are right. It''s taken too long for us to respond to complaints, and that''s something that, I feel strongly that we improve upon, and I think we have been improving, and I want us to continue. We are looking at that process, and looking for ways to improve our responsiveness actively. I hope that, you know, by next year and the years afterwards that stops being a complaint that we get. But I think it''s very fair.
I don''t know how much of a problem that is with EEOC charges. I suspect, though, again, because of the budget cuts and because of the furloughs, it may be taking more time to respond to someone who wants to file a charge of discrimination. Usually that, you know, people can do it in writing, they can go to their local office and fill out an intake form. We also, you know, have a number where people can call the specific office where their charge is filed and check on the status of that charge, and they should get a pretty quick response as to where is in response to processing that charge. In terms of our other responsiveness, we have people assigned to be, attorney of the day to answer just general calls that we get from the public, and I do know because our office handles those calls -- that we do respond immediately to calls. We get a few questions on the website. We try to respond certainly within 30 days to informal letters of asking, you know, questions by submitting informal inquiries. I''m sure as Rebecca was saying, improvements can be made. I''m sure EEOC can make improvements. But that is a huge priority, and certainly that''s something that -- a standard in many people''s evaluations in terms of their responsiveness to the public. So that''s a good motivator.
All right. Thank you both. I appreciate your comments in that area. We have reached the bottom of the hour, and I know that there are still questions out there that we were not able to get to.
Peter, can I just jump in just one quick update, and it''s one of the benefits of speaking over the telephone and not in person, which is I checked the unified agenda. The spring unified agenda has been published, and so the deadline for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, NPRM, on the Title II Web accessibility is November 2013, and on Title III it''s March 2014. So those are the dates that were asked about earlier.
Thanks for that clarification. And for those that did not get your questions asked, we''d encourage you to follow up with your regional ADA Center. You can call them at 800-949-4232. The collaboration and cooperation relationship that the ADA national network has with our federal partners allows us, in large extent, to be able to do what we do and answer your questions, and we have great relationships with the Department of Justice, the EEOC, and it can go to them to get information and formal guidance when we get stuck on questions. So please follow up with your regional ADA Center. You can find yours by visiting www.ADAta.org. Just quickly want to remind you that our next session, audio conference session, will be on August the 20th, where we will be looking at extracurricular sports opportunities for students with disabilities in postsecondary education settings, and you can get information about that session at www.ADA.audio.org, or by calling 877-232-1990 for information about that upcoming session. And as a reminder, today''s session is being recorded. The audio archive will be available within 48 hours. And within two business weeks, we will have an edited text transcript of today''s session that will be posted along with the audio archive of today''s session. I want to take this opportunity to thank Joyce Walker-Jones from the EEOC for joining us again. She has joined us several times in our audio conferences and webinars to provide us with her expertise, and we certainly appreciate that. Want to also thank Sally Conway from the Department of Justice, a frequent speaker on our distance programs through our webinars and our audio conferences as well as traveling out into the states that the various ADA Centers serve. We appreciate her time. And want to thank Rebecca Bond, the Chief of the Disability Rights Section within the Department of Justice, for joining us for the first time. Rebecca, we look forward to you joining us for a number of years to come, and you survived, and John Wodatch would be proud of your performance today, so thank you very much for all of your time and expertise today.
Thank you so much.
Thanks, and most importantly, thanks to all of you for participating in the session. We''d be here talking to ourselves if all of you did not join us to participate in this session, so we appreciate your support of the ADA audio conference. We look forward to seeing you in August, and we encourage you to complete your evaluations. That helps us understand what topics you want to see in future audio conference sessions. So for those of you on the telephone, you can simply hang up. For those of you in the webinar room, simply close your webinar -- your Internet browser at this time and thanks to everyone, and good day.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation in today''s conference. This does complete the program, and you may now disconnect. Everyone, have a good day.