Thank you. To the ADA audio conference series. We are happy that you are able to join us today for this very important session. This program is brought to you as a collaboration between ADA National Network and the Great Lakes ADA center. We hope that you are going to find today's session to be a valuable one. People are connected in a variety of different ways today. Some people are on the telephone. Some people are using the telephone and webinar platform and other are using the webinar platform. We will take your questions today and we welcome your questions throughout the session. If you are on the telephone, just hold your question and when we are ready for them we will give instructions to ask your questions. Those in the webinar platform plel toe to enter your question in the chat area. It it is not seen by anybody other than the speakers. But you also have the option as was explained earlier in the slides to send us an e-mail with your question as well at ada-audio.org. And we will happy to take your questions by e-mail. We will -- who is more than happy to respond to your questions. We are pleased to have today's session which is going to focus on ADA self-evaluation and transition plans. Looking at some of the things to keep in mind that make sure that you the correct content and that it is -- our speaker has probably seasoned with the right ingredients. Cover the right issues and other things that you haven't thought about that process. We are pleased to have.
Jennifer Skulski speaking with us today. Jennifer has a great background and her bio is available on website. But those of you who may or may not know she used to work here at Great Lakes ADA center and the National Center on Accessibility located at Indiana university as well and has an extensive experience as a consultant in providing training on the Americans with Disabilities Act, with a specific emphasis on-looking at issues of self-evaluation and transition planning. She is now the principal of Skulski con sulting. She works in many different areas across the country and she puts out a newsletter on a regular basis that is -- covers some of the key topics in this particular area that might be of interest to you and she will provide that information on a cover slide and a later slide today that will review that has her current contact information. Without further ado I'm going to go ahead and turn the microphone over to Jennifer so she can begin with the content of the presentation. Feel free to submit questions throughout the process and will make sure those get fed to our presenter during the Q and A period. .
No problem. So just to recap before I talk a little bit more about that frustration between the self-evaluation and the transition plan, if you go back to Title II I just want to recap on the administrationtive requirements because we are going to talk about these throughout the session is that you had kind of the full or four or five depending on the size of your entity, core administrative requirements under Title II to designate a responsible employee, to provide a notice to the public. To establish a grooeance procedure and to conduct a self-ee valuation plan. I want to get back to my frustration. So probably within the last ten years or that, again as more and more of the self-evaluations and tran stigss plans were being put on line I would to a search every once in awhile to have a good pool so if people had questions I could kind of give them examples of different documents to look to. But what start #d happening was that in those searches I would find a lot of documents that were labeled as ADA self-evaluations and they really only dealt with physical access to the buildings or facilities for the entity. At the didn't have to do anything with policy and procedure. And so it was very frustrating, especially when people are asking me what is a self-evaluation look like and they can do all these web searches to find the key word self-evaluation in the documents but the documents in no way, shape or form are actually addressing the policy and procedures that might have needed to be modified or how agency went about modifying those procedures in order to really serve as good examples to other entities out in the field. So I kind of equate that to the analogy between parsley and cilantro because they both a lot alike on face value. If you have every gotten bitten in to something that you thought was parsley and gotten a big surprise to find out it was cilantro. There is a huge difference between two. And that was kind of my surprise in doing these searches was that they are all claiming to be documents that are self-evaluations and they don't cover the essential data that needs to be covered in a self-evaluation. And so what I -- if there is any point I want to get across to you today is please don't confuse your parsley and cilantro. Your self-evaluation is completely entirely different from your ADA transition plan. And hopefully when we go through the content here you will get a better understanding of the differences between the two.
So if we go back to the regulations, essentially Title II requires that you conduct an internal self-evaluation that you review your policies, practices and procedures and identify where any of those may screen out either intentionally or unintentionally screen out people with disabilities and if they do that or prohibit participation or access to any of your program services or activities, modifications should be put in to place with those policies, practices and procedures. I'm -- so basically it is looking at how do you do business. How do you provide your services, programs and activities and how might those standard operating procedures or policies need to be modified to ensure that people with disabilities can participate. Completely different from a transition plan and this is where people start to interchange the two terms without fully understanding the difference between the two. So the transition plan is really looking at where your program -- where your program services and activities are conducted. And whether or not there are any structural or communication barriers that exist there and how those should be removed, a schedule for the removal of those because people with disabilities can access the supporting facilities where those program services and activities take place.
So if you have a building that has stairs in to it and people can go get their driver's license there, or they can come to listen to a public lecture, and the structure itself is not accessible what is your time frame for removing the barrier there and making it accessible for people with disabilities? So those are two completely different approaches to accessibility for people with disabilities and more overarching concept that I call the ADA action plan and we will talk about that a little bit more. Iffy we go back to the score administrative requirements, that first one is designating a responsible employee, and I go back to these core administrative requirements because in order to conduct the self-evaluation and transition plan that's going to be key that you know who that responsible employee is. Now the ADA itself does not use the term ADA coordinator. It says it is a designated responsible employee. And so I worked with a lot of different agencies over the years and they have different approaches. Some entities might call it an ADA coordinator and that person is the final decision maker when there are issues whether or not it is modification of a policy, practice or procedure or a grievance comes about that has to be decided upon. Others have designated a director, a deputy director, a CEO, the top ranking official as the designated responsible employee. And so think it is really important for you as an NTD to decide do you have an ADA coordinator that is going to kind of implement the day-to-day operation of or implementation of the self-evaluation and transition plan, what decision making authority does that person have. Or do you need to also designate who that final decision maker is within the entity.
That responsible employee they should be the public liaison. So you might end up breaking that up a bit between what the ADA coordinator does and what the CEO might do. Over the course of the years we have kind of seen how the originating department for the ADA coordinator has evolved originally. I think a lot of entities were putting it in human resources because there was so much that had to do with employment. And that -- once they completed their transition plan and recognizing how much physical improvements to facilities needed to be done it would move in to planning or design than operations. More of a balance we have seen is moving the ADA coordinator role along the lines of a safety coordinator or risk manager and what I have seen happen in the last three or four years a lot of more ADA coordinators in the role of community engagement. So just kind of a matter what's the best fit for your agency in terms where that role should originate at.
I do have to say it is a lot easier for an ADA or an accessibility coordinator to implement the self-evaluation and transition plan when they have experience or especially personal experience with disability. You know, it is joke I have used over the last 20 plus year, how did you get to be an ADA coordinator because nobody every went to school or when they were five or six years old, did anybody ask you hey what do you want to be in when you grow up and no one ever answers hey I want to be an ADA coordinator. Usually being an ADA coordinator because there was a meeting that happened that you didn't get invited to or you left the room for a couple of minutes and everyone voted on you to be the ADA coordinator. But in all practicality it is a lot easier when the ADA coordinator has experience or personal experience with disability because to some extent it is a balancing act to -- between being a compliance manager, complying with the implementation of the ADA within your organization and also being a disability advocate to making sure those policies, practices and procedures are modified and people with disabilities can fully participate in your services.
So in my approach over the last 20 plus odd years I really think that accessibility management and ADA compliance is everyone's responsibility. It takes a similar approach as safety or risk management where you might have one central coordinating person like a safety manager or a risk coordinator. But safety and risk management is really everyone's responsibility. Same thing with ADA compliance. Where you would have a central coordinating person that ADA coordinator but ADA compliance really needs to take place in every department across the agency. Operations, human resources, legal, finance, purchasing, IT, community outreach, facilities management. The whole gamut. We have to look at for ADA compliance to be successful to make sure that each department head in those areas understands what their individual responsibilities are for ADA compliance.
So a few years ago while I was working on my master's I was looking at change agents and change in organizations and how does this happen and how can that parallel an approach for implementing an accessibility management program or in terms of complying with the ADA. And so in looking at the different processes that existed I kind of put together this overlay here for change to happen within the organization. And for ADA coordinators it is a lot easier for direction to come from the top leadership in terms of a commitment to inclusion, and to provide staff with direction. This is our purpose. And we are going to make sure that everything that we do is accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities. And so the model that I have presented here is a similar approach to change management where the business purpose and mission are defined, shared values are clarified. Responsibilities are delegated. Information is gathered. Consensus is built. And then the process is evaluated to determine how can we make this work better. And so in following that model again the leadership team would make its commitment to inclusion and provide direction to the staff, the accessibility coordinator is assigned to oversee accessibility management program. And access team is formed to representatives from various departments and units. And accessibility assessment is conducted for facilities and programs. Regular meetings are scheduled to prioritize projects with input from the access team. And visitors or users for the general public. And implementation of the accessibility improvements are made and then you are always geb again evaluating and looking at how those improvements can be better in the future and then reporting back to leadership and other stakeholders. I would urge you if you feel like you are a one person show in terms of ADA compliance and your agency of looking at how you can get buy in from leadership and bring other people in to the team to make it more effective as you work forward with both your self-evaluation and your transition plan.
And so for the purpose of this conversation and some articles that I have been writing and presenting on, I kind of -- I liked that there are a lot of agencies out there that have put together job responsibilities for ADA coordinators but nobody is has really done anything in terms of all of the other functions within the agencies. So I tried to bring all these together with kind of the different departments in terms of the accessibility management team. So you have your designated responsible employee that could -- is likely your CEO. You have your ADA coordinator that is responsible for managing daily ADA compliance and then you have engineering or design or planning team that prioritizes and implements accessibility improvements that are identified in the ADA transition plan. Operations or public works, they -- their responsibility is to make ADA improvements and ensure daily facility access. And where you provide programs and services, that reasonable modifications auxiliary aids and services are provided in the most integrated setting. Certainly marketing and communication are key to making sure that any information or messages that you are sending out to the public are effectively communicated in terms of your program services and activities. Purchasing plays a key role to make sure that your new product services and contracts include ADA compliance.
And information technology and another big one again to ensure that any new technologies that you are using from the public employees and volunteers are accessible. Human resources and their role to facilitate reasonable accommodations for applicants, employees and volunteers. Legal and finance they certainly play a key role in serving as resources and the risk manager also to assess the safety concerns related to ADA compliance. So I kind of try to put those together in a nutshell certainly each agency is different and if there are other unique areas that you think should be included in there, please feel free to send me an e-mail and I'm -- I would be happy to figure out how to work things in there.
So again using more of a team approach recognizing that the ADA coordinator can't be in all places at all times that you need to have an accessibility management team for successful compliance. The responsibility for that team, you know, when I worked with a lot of different agencies we try to say at the beginning especially with getting the transition plan up and running, to meet a minimum of quarterly to review projects and implementations. To provide updates on implementation and each unit and department to help guide the ADA policy development, and to serve as a liaison with a disability advocacy groups in the community. So I have two agencies right now that they have actually developed charters organizational charters for their accessibility management team that explains how people get assigned to the management team. How often it meets and what its responsibilities are and what the desired outcomes are. And so that's a big deal for each of those agencies because it more formally recognizes the accessibility management team and I think it makes a huge statement to the public and the community of people with disabilities on the commitment for that agency.
So if we talk a little bit about the ADA or 504 self-evaluation, so you may have done this, you may think that you did it, or that's okay you might not have ever done it before, within your agency. Even if you did it when you are required to do it way back in the early 1990s, I think it is a really good idea to revisit it every few years. Ant reason I say that is that if you look at the average individual is in their position for 7 years. Over the course of the last 27 years that means we have had at least three or four generations of staff come and go in an organization. And so policies that might have been originally modified to be made accessible to make sure that people with disabilities could fully participate, I have seen a lot of policies that were changed and in essence made less accessible than they were originally changed back in the 1990s. So and there is a lot of historical data that is lost when you have that attrition within an organization. So I think that it is a good practice to go back to every 7 to 10 years and review your policies rather than just say oh, yeah, we did that way back in 1992 when we were supposed to. We are good to go. Plus we have a lot of good policies that were developed over the years. It is a good practice. We want to make sure we have conducted a comprehensive review of policies and practices and procedures where we identified noncomooins and what we might need to do in terms of modifying those policies and practices to bring them in to compliance. We need to give an opportunity for people with disabilities and other interested parties to review and comment and we should keep that on public inspection. And what I like to do is use approach similar to an ADA action plan which is much more of an umbrella. I have an organization that I'm working we right now and they asked me to come in first as just a technical writer. To write an action plan for me. Or for the organization. But when I met with the CEO he sat down and he said, I want this to be our inclusion manifesto. I want any new staff and all of our old staff to be able to pick up this document and read about our commitment to inclusion to people with disabilities and everything we do. From employment to every single program service or activity that we operate, that there is no doubt our commitment to inclusion of people with disabilities and to the practice of universal design. I thought that was a really interesting approach because it wasn't just about meeting the minimum in terms of compliance. But really putting it out there of what this agency believed in terms of making sure people with disabilities were included.
Following that kind of action plan approach the institute for human centered design kind of reworked that document the ADA Title II action guide for state and local governments and that used to be one of my go to resources that, is a fantastic book. But basically reworked the whole process and put it in to a website. If you have the opportunity to go take a look at it, they condensed everything to 7 steps created a lot of sample forms that you can use, and so I think that it is a really great resource for people to draw on. But so they basically look at it, taking the self-evaluation as one step, the transition plan as another. And then developing an umbrella action plan for the entire agency to understand what different roles, responsibilities and tasks are involved for ADA compliance. So definitely go take a look at that when you have a chance.
So a lot of times when I'm working with different organizations, then we have to look at, you know, what's the best approach to review these policies, practices and procedures. And so essentially what I recommend is that you are looking at pretty much everything in and you are asking the question does the practice policy or procedure screen out or prohibit individuals with disabilities from participating in and enjoying the benefits of the program surface or activity. And you can use an easy check box approach by either no action is required, action is required for ADA compliance or there is an action documented as a best practice of access for people with disabilities. So that is a very simple approach to take and basically looking at all of those different policies, practices and procedures.
And so in part of that process we need to recognize that you have to do some kind of document scan. You might not be able to scan every single solitary document in the organization but if you could get your hands on a broad cross-section of those documents that your agency uses to basically direct the way that you do business, it will help you a lot in the process. So when I'm working with an organization, I'll put out a list of different types of documents that we are looking for and this is kind of a quick, quick check here. So organizational and department procedure manuals, brochures for city programs or activities. Any rules or regulations that are specific to services within a department or a unit. Employment, applications, and employee handbook, if you have an emergency preparedness plan, if you have licensing criteria and applications or special use permits or labor and release form. Of course sample meets and other public notices, if you have a complete form or maybe you already do have an ADA grievance form and then any other procedures that might be specific to a department or a unit in terms of people with disabilities being able to request auxiliary aids or services.
And so you kind of want -- really want to get a broad spectrum of documents so that you can go through each of those documents and evaluate how that policy procedure may already be compliant or you might need to make adjustments. And then think that it is absolutely critical to conduct interviews with the key personnel across all departments and units. So a lot of times they will be working with an agency and I will say I want to meet with IT, risk management, marketing and they will say well, why do you want to meet with those people. They don't have ADA compliance responsibility and I will say, yeah, indirectly they do. If marketing is putting out a poster about, you know, a movie in the parks event, have they indicated that the poster or information on the event is available upon request or how do people know if they need a sign language interpreter, a real-time captioning for the event. How do they know that they can make that temporary request. So a lot of times the interviews not only become important for the team that is conducting the interview to collect that data, to also becomes a learning opportunity with those key personnel on issues that they might not have ever thought of. It is an opportunity to give more information on how we might be able to improve this process.
So looking at what are the functions across the different departments, how does the department interface with the public. And then what other policies or procedures might affect how residents or visitors receive the services.
So I put some more questions that you could go about asking and I think that the ADA action guide has some similar ones, different in some instances but I would recommend looking at both this powerpoint and the ADA action guide for examples of questions to ask. So say, for example, what's your notice to the public. Do you have a notice to the public. How is it communicated. Is it made available on more than just website. I have included some examples. Here you can go look at Cleveland metro parks or I think the city of Milwaukee, Becky, she has done a fantastic job there. She did a web scan and basically looked at municipalities across the country and what their notice to the public included. And then she brought together all the best elements of those and so I like to just point to Becky's example and say hey, you know, instead of just reinventing the mousetrap, just take a look at this example because it is a great example. I did a lot of work with the National Park Service and ne they worked together at putting together a poster in terms of right s as a person with a disability and it is hung up in all National Parks. This is an example from the city of Eugene, Oregon and bes practice of city of Eugene. To provide universal access to building, programs and events and then they go on to give examples of the different types of services that can be provided and what -- how you can go about making a request for any type of disability related need. And then this is again the example from the National Park Service, that they wanted to make sure that people with disabilities were informed of their rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. So I use this example all the time for entities on different ways of putting that notice out rather than just putting that on your website. But you can create a poster like this and make sure it is hanging in all of your facilities and programs are conducted. They have a similar type approach to the National Park Service poster. Would you like help with access to your o services and they also give examples to wheelchair access, real time captioning, TTY machine, assistive listen devices, sign language and Braille and large print and amplified phones and then the contact information.
Then more questions about that designated official. Who is the designated official. Do they even know there is a designated official. Interestingly enough I had a situation with an organization that everyone thought one person in particular was the designated official. And then turns out that wasn't really the person that the CEO had intended to be the designated official. It is important to have those conversations and make sure that everybody is on the same page and that is different from the ADA coordinator. Should there be different contact for different program services or activities. They had one entity that the ADA coordinator was in facilities and operations. And because they already had that template notice to contact this person if you had any questions, program staff just started automatically using that sentence in all of their program brochures. So requests for sign language interpreters or one-on-one inclusion staff was going to this person in facilities and operations and it probably should have been going to the program coordinators directly. So you want to make sure to differentiate where are those general notices made and then does it need to be more specific for different programs or services.
And then what's your grievance procedure? How can an individual with a disability make an inquiry. When should they expect to receive a response. What are the time frames involved. What can the individual do if they don't agree with the response. Is there an appeal process. So those are all questions to ask as you are reviewing the grievance procedure. Then how are you getting input from people with disabilities? Is this an ongoing process? Is it a one time deal. I have another organization right now that they are looking at doing a lot of different approaches to getting input from people with disabilities, not just having a public hearing but including different open houses at their different facilities, conducting a survey amongst the community members. And then they are actually looking at conducting focus groups with people that are invited from different disability organizations. So that they can drill down to more specific approaches to inclusion for those different disability groups. So you might need to look at a multi-facetted approach to getting input from people with disabilities.
How can people with disabilities ask for auxiliary aids and services. Is that centralized process or decentralized process. I cannot emphasize enough the importance to know where to tap in to the auxiliary aids and services before you go get the request. Are there sign language interpreters available in your area. Do you need to put a contract or an agreement in to place. What about real time captioners, maybe even live audio description or verbal description. That's a growing area for people with visual impairments to make those types of requests. So do you know where these resources are when you might receive that request and is it necessary to actually have some type of agreement in place so that you can get in touch with those service providers.
Then alternate formats, as technology evolves it is a lot easier than it used to be. In terms of providing different types of alternative formats but making sure you have communicated the availability to people with disabilities on the alternate format. Again asking how are you going to do it. Is it going to be a centralized or decentralized process and are staff trained to take the process. So somebody asked for calls up and asks for your annual report in either large print or Braille, are staff prepared to take that request or are they going to just say don't -- I'm sorry that's not available. Making sure that staff are trained that is going to be key on that. Then looking at different types of forms and making sure you are not asking disability inquiries that might be too invasive, how do you ask those questions. Are you asking for waivers. Is it consistent with necessary.
ity. And eligibility criteria I'm going to fly through these pretty quickly so we can talk more about the transition plan. Service animals that's another area that you are going to want to look at what are your policies. I have a lot of cities that have ordinances for animals to be on leashes. We have municipalities that does not allow any pets in their parks. So we have looked at how do those ordinances need to be modified to enable service animals to be available to the people with disabilities that they serve. Of course, other power driven mobility devices, same types of questions there. And then looking at what are types of modifications need to be put in to place. Is it something that you might have to evaluate an issue on a case-by-case basis. And what is that process? Is it a centralized or a decentralized approach. Are staff trained on disabilities and ADA compliance. How are you documenting this process and how are you evaluating it after the reasonable modification has been put in to place.
Making sure that you are clear with your contract and partnerships. I'm with a municipality right now that they lease a property to a historical society and that historical society has a lot more work to do in terms of making sure that the programs that they are holding are actually accessible. So in part of that process is re-evaluating that contract agreement and spelling out specifically what -- what's their responsibility for the municipality and then what will be the responsibility for the historical society. So we want to always make sure when we have this opportunity to renegotiate contracts or partnerships that we take that time to clarify roles and expectations.
And then safety, how do you address safety concerns. Is the risk manager included. Is the assessment documented. Do you have that on file to make sure that people understand what -- why do either enable the person to participate or why because of safety the modification was not put in to place.
And then this goes along the same lines, when you have to say no is the designated official involved in the determination. What -- if you do deny that request, what is the explanation, what was the process for assessment and what is the rationale and a lot of times they call that the CYA documentation that you really have to have that documentation put in to place in the event that you were to have a compliant that you going back to the documentation and say well, this is how we came to this decision. And making sure that that designated official is involved in the process.
And then we get to that action plan or one of the policies and procedures that need to be modified. Who is responsible in each department, if there are any costs associated and I would recommend that you go back to that ADA action guide to the 7 steps, they actually have a format for a table to put those action steps in to a good format. And then you can distribute that with your accessibility or your ADA management team. So everyone knows what their responsibilities are, what your key timelines are and who needs to be doing what. So and then switching gears, so up to this point we really focus on policies and procedures. Well, we can't deny that there are facilities support facilities, where the programs and services happen, they are probably still have some time of physical barrier that needs to be removed in order to make sure that people with disabilities can fully access those programs and services. And so recognize that in a municipality I do a lot of work with park and recreation agencies and I tell them all the time that you can have a 100 parks or fa sill teas that are not accessible and you don't have any plans to make accessible bus your responsibility is to meet the program access standard. So that whatever the services programs activities that you provide people with disabilities are able to use those -- use those services and programs or activities and participate and get the same benefits that people without disabilities get.
So we -- so the program access standard is really our guiding regulation behind the implementation of our transition plan. So we are looking at when viewed in entirety is that program service or activity not only accessible to and useable by people with disabilities. So I always ask people what is the purpose of this facility, why do people come here. And dealing with so many parks, I ask people why do people come here if your staff knew that a person only had 20 minutes to spend in the site. What is it they are coming.
What is it that they should see and what is it that should experience in order to truly have the same experience as people without disabilities and then that's the area that we need to focus in on and figuring out how to make that accessible to people with disabilities. Sometimes that might mean relocating to an accessible facility. Maybe providing those same types of benefits in alternative accessible site. More often than not it means making structural changes to existing site and giving priority to the methods that fa sill Tate the most integrated method. Existing facilities applying the program access standard and that's what gets us to the priorities within our transition plan. Your transition plan is required if you are in entity that has 50 or more entities and that you are required to put that together by July 26, 1992. And have all of your barriers removed by January 26, 1995. Now I know because I work a lot in park and recreation is that we didn't even have enforceable standards for what an accessible swimming pool or golf course or fishing peer or boating facility even looks like until 2010. And so because the standards ton evolve this is yet another reason to revisit that transition plan to make sure those supporting facilities for your program services and activities are addressing and compliant with the most current standards wherever and hopefully most practicable. So the transition plan where we need to make those structural changes to existing facilities the regulations actually say that we should identify the physical or communication barriers the programs goods or services, that identification of a solution for a barrier removal is -- should have a prioritization and targeted timeline for barrier removal and signed responsibility and that transition plan is supposed to be available for the public at any point until such time the transition plan has been fully implemented or all the corrective actions have been made.
So when you are looking at -- we look at assessing your facility and looking at when viewed in entirety, can people with disabilities get the opportunity to participate and benefit from the new programs. And so the transition plan itself requires data collection to start with. Some of my colleagues in the field it is kind of like the difference between tomato and tomato. The colleagues in the field will call it an accessibility assessment, a survey or an audit. My preference is to call it an act accessibility assessment or a survey. I don't like calling it an audit because if you have ever been audited it doesn't really convey a lot of positive feelings there. So I kind of stray away from the audit terminology. But if you are looking at conducting that assessment or survey, pulling out and doing -- basically an inspection or an assessment, identifying where those physical and communication barriers are, when I go out the methodology that I use is to follow the sequence that is used by the visitor or the public in considering the different needs of those different populations for people with mobility impairment s, hearing impairments and cognitive impairments but recognizing when doing the assessment or survey it is a snapshot in time. It is how that building or facility looked on the day that you went out to collect the data. I had one project that had -- it was a very eccentric landowner and he was giving the land to the state DNR and so we went out there to do an assessment over the course of several weeks. And every time we showed up he had done something different. He had either built a new building or renovated something and so it looked completely different from the previous visits we had just assessment. That's the kind of had the line in the sand saying this is how it looked on the day we were hear and collected the data. Recognize if it takes you a couple of years in your transition plan it is going to require you to go back and visit that site especially there are a lot of different reasons that we make alterations, maybe you had some vandalism that happened in a facility or maybe you had some storm damage. So recognizing that there is a need to go back and making sure that our corrective actions that we have identified are appropriate still for that initial data that was collected. Applying the 2010 ADA standards and then other -- any other proposed standards or guidelines looking at how you can apply the principles of universal design. And other best practices and then make -- making sure that the assessment includes recommendations for barrier removal.
So when I work at going out and doing assessment I help the client by categorizing the barrier to the program or activity. And I have some clients that will ask for a 3 point scale or a 4 point or a 5 point scale and then we -- we clearly define each of those priority points. So this is just an example of our project where we did a four point scale. So priorities were categorized as critical, serious mod rate or minor. So the example for critical is it is an outdoor amptheater and no accessible route to the outdoor amptheater. No assistive listening system. Those are all things that are barriers to participation bit individuals with disabilities.
The second one there that serious one that's an entrance in to a visitor's center. There is no automatic door opener. However it doesn't necessarily prohibit an individual from using the visitor center. It certainly uncomfortable. It might require some help or assistance to get in. But obviously it is different from there not being any accessible entrance there whatsoever.
So the third category that moderate categorization, that's an element that exists. It might be still useable. But is it really part of the program service or experience. It might be more of an amenity. And then for this particular project, we categorized floor priority, a minor one where the element may have met the previous accessibility standards but it doesn't meet the new one. If it is altered in the future, we wanted to make sure and make a note of that for the facility owner so they can update, get that and make sure it was more consistent with the current standard. And so when we do that categorization of priorities, we want to make sure that it simply giving a frame or a structure to the agency or to the building owner or the organization on how the priority affects the magnitude by which people with disabilities can either experience or not experience the program or activity.
The priority is that, you know, 1, 2, 3, 4, critical, serious, moderate, minor. They don't dictate the order by which the corrective actions are made and a lot of times those critical priorities actually take longer time for planning and implementation. But they simply give more of a framework to the agency to help them with their transition planning. So rather than having, you know, a list of 100 deficiencies for a site or a facility that agency can in their transition planning pull out all of the critical, all the serious, and then help kind of have a better understanding of where they need to put their focus at to make sure that people with disabilities can eventually get to the program services and activities.
So just kind of a difference between assessment or the survey report and the transition plan, so the assessment or survey report includes identification of the physical or communication barriers, and recommendations for barrier removal. Then the transition plan in addition to those two should also have a targeted timeline for barrier removal. Should identify the person or their responsible unit. It should -- it should include what you might do in lieu of barrier removal. And then documentation of the corrective action. For those entities that have a really long laundry list of corrective actions that need to be made I think it is a very good idea to keep documentation about what corrective actions have been done, when they were completed and what the cost was. So at any point in time you can report that information back to the public or should you have any type of formal inquiry or a complaint.
So this is just kind of one example from one agency that had -- they had about a thousand work orders to remove deficiencies or barriers for people with disabilities. And about 20% of those fell in to that critical priority but more of them than any fell in to the serious, they were somewhat useable. But not entirely compliant with the standards. So when viewed in its entirety they probably could still get to the area or the program or service that -- but the barrier still affected their enjoyment of it.
And then some of the most frequently recommendations that we come across, providing, you know, this is just for parks and rec as an example, providing picnic areas that are accessible, adjusting opening forces for doors, making modifications to pathways. Rest room action sign, I tell ya, I am more often than not we see rest rooms signs that are not accessible. They don't have the raised characters in Braille or that they are on the door or not put in appropriate location. Striping accessible parking spaces and access aisles that's all -- that's always a frequently cited one. Installation, lavatory, pipes, coat racks or coat hooks in the accessible stall within the reach range. That drinking fountain, making sure that there is not just low wheelchair accessible units but also higher standing unit. And fire rings and grilles. We like to give an idea of how much all those different costs are so an agency has a good idea of what type of budgeting they need to put together for future planning.
And then looking at all the different factors for scheduling barrier removal, you know, if you are a entity that has several facilities, what's the location of those facilities. What kind of use, what's the volume of visitors or the public. What are the -- what's the master plans of the facility. Is there any type of duplicative program or service that happens nearby that you might be able to say, you know, in an interim process, there is our designated accessible location and really focus on providing more of those programs and services at the accessible location until which time you can make the other site more accessible. Also recognizing that transition planning, that it is not -- it feels like you are not ever done. It is an ongoing process. What you have identified is your priorities today you could get a complaint tomorrow. And your priorities completely change in order to address the nature of that complaint. So recognizing that your transition plans, the ink on it is probably never really dry. But it needs to be a dynamic working document and you keep working away on it. You are including the accessibility management team. You are making it available for public inspection. And you are engaging people with disabilities throughout the process. And so that -- and I like to see that kind of annual when you have your ADA celebration in July I think that's a great opportunity to have an open house specific to your ADA transition plan. And to showcase these are all the accessibility improvements that we have made over the course of last year to make sure that the public knows what those are. And then to also ask questions of the public, this is what we are looking at doing for the next two or five years or whatever it might be and getting more input from people with disabilities and disability advocacy organizations. So I think that that piggybacking on the ADA celebrations are really good opportunity to get more community engagement from people with disabilities. So if there is anything that you can do right now, and if I give you homework, I would ask you to put together an accessibility management team. Go find your original ADA self-evaluation. Do you know where it is? Do you know where your original ADA transition plan is? If you don't know where either one of those two documents are, probably need to -- means you need to get started on them. And also look at establishing a relationship with people with disabilities and then gauging the community and I always tell people it is a lot easier to do this from the top down. So if you can get the commitment from senior leadership, that speaks follows and of itself and making sure that senior leadership gives that direction to staff that your organization is committed to inclusion and ADA compliance. It is going to be part of your organizational culture. So from that Robin I think if we have time to take some questions, I will turn it over to you.
Great. Thank you very much for a lot of information provided to us in a fairly short period of time but it is obviously packed with a lot of content. So I know that you run over to your contact information here as well. It is available to you here. For those of you who may want to follow up with Jennifer, following the session. But this is your chance to ask some questions. So let me just start with on the telephone and Shanel are there any questions that anybody has on the telephone before we start taking some from the webinar platform?
Ladies and gentlemen if you have a question at this time press the star and 1 on your touch tone telephone. If your answer has been answered or want to remove yourself from the queue, press the pound key. Once again ladies and gentlemen that's star 1 to ask a question at this time.
While we are waiting for people to cue up here, we do have a question that was submitted by the webinar platform. One is why would you suggest an automatic door opener is required if the force to open that door is under eight pounds there is no requirement, correct?
That depends on your state. So your state, right, Robin has a requirement for the eight pound force, correct?
Yes. We have open in to exterior door. Correct.
Right. So my state does not have an eight pound force requirement. So we try to -- when we are going out model the other states and get to that 7 or 8 pounds but we have way more situations than not that we can actually get down to eight pount pounds. So in those instances we would recommend an automatic door for a front entrance and most likely for a secondary entrance depending on what the makeup of the facility was.
Okay. So look at -- Jennifer from a program access perspective, you might be looking at automatic doors as a solution to barrier to, you know, access for a select or specific group of people, too. Specific to --
Goes down to architecture access but need to look at part of your self-evaluation and program access issues as well. Correct?
So everything that they are reading about is five pounds is that interior or maybe you want to clarify the requirement for interior, exterior doors.
So the requirement is only for interior doors being five pounds. And then the exterior doors reflects back to your local state, your state or local authority. Some state or local authorities have adopted more stringent standards like I said the state of Illinois has a more strin jent standard and the neighboring state that I am in Indiana doesn't have the same requirement. In the absence of having a standard I got to figure out programmatically how I can mak that access accessible when I know a 15 pound door is too difficult for people both am bu laer or users of different assistive devices to use. So the practicality of it is that if I can't adjust the door closer, the tension on the door closer and those three magic screws that door could be too heavy and in all practicalness the next best solution is going to be an automatic door.
Great. And do you have a suggestion for where people might be able to -- that are not familiar with their states, a website or something that they could go to where give a link to the various states' codes and requirements and such?
Yes. So I don't -- I don't have the link right off the top of my head. So you can actually go to the International Code Council website. I think it is ICC.org, right? Robin?
And you can do a search right in there for accessibility codes. And they do have a link that has a ji nor mouse list of every single state accessibility code if they have one.
Right. Because some states do not have.
Or there is other states that are as old as dirt like Indiana and they haven't been updated.
That's something you deal with for sure. If you can clarify for them what's the difference between or how is a public versus a private entity differ?
That's a good question. So a Title II entity public entity, a unit. State or local government was required to have all of those administrative requirements, notice to the public, designated responsible employee, self-evaluation, transition plan depending on the size and the grievance procedure. Title III entities are basically private businesses that open and make goods and services available to the public. They were not required to do a self-evaluation or a transition plan. However, I think it is a pretty good best practice to follow if you are a Title III entity and in fact, I'm working with a new DM right now, which is covered under Title III:
However they receive several grants which basically means that they are required to follow Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. They have taken the approach that we want to comply with both Section 504 and the ADA Title III and so they have gone about completing an ADA action plan that brings together a self-evaluation and their transition plan.
Yeah, I think best practice also would see more complaints that have been filed. One of the defenses is to demonstrate they have done a review of their barriers and had a plan in place. Even if they might still have some barriers in place and haven't achieved all of them. A good faith effort goes a long way.
So in the same vain or the fact that you come from a role as a consultant and someone here is asking about where can they find or how do you certify an access expert. I don't know if you have some opinions about that whole issue. There is a lot of controversy out there about this issue. If you can share in a neutral way with the group.
Well, so working in the field both with organizations that, you know, non-profit or university organizations that provided training and technical assistance and then as a private consult in either position I always have my flashing red lights go off when anybody ever calls themselves an expert on ADA. Over the course of 20 plus odd years I have only ever really met probably two experts on the ADA. One is one of the people Access Board that has written all of -- a good portion of the standards. And the other one is the ROBIN JONES for this call, that taught me everything that I know. So if anybody else ever says that they are an ADA expert I kind of like take that with a grain of salt.
And the reason that I say that is that there are so many nuances to the ADA there is so much to learn and even with the standards themselves in the regulations if you don't read those every day and work with them every day, there are just unique situations that come up all the time. That it is not safe to take the word of one person or another. I mean you can even say that 20 plus odd years later if there is a question that I vnt come across I am on the phone to my colleagues from the field saying, you know, let's talk this through. On the flipside of that that's not to say that you can't become very well versed in the ADA and first and foremost I would always recommend that national ADA symposium as one of the best training in professional education places to start with and attending that annual conference. It is the best collection of people with ADA compliance responsibilities from across the nation coming together at one event and then also looking to the ADA coordinator training program or certification certificate, not certification, but certificate, that is offered through the ADA symposium and/or the Great Plains ADA Center. So those are --
Yeah, I don't think best practice is anything and take ADA or anything out of it. Is that when you are looking to hire someone to do work for you you want to know what the references are. You want to know -- what have they done and what has (inaudible) result of that work. So if you have got somebody else who is telling you that they are an ADA expert or holding themselves out as best practices, what have you done and what work have you done and followed up with the people you have done the work with to find out what their experiences have been. There is no federal designation as an ADA certified anything. Jennifer identified a certificate program available and some different state, state laws that identify or provide designation for people to do certified accessibility specialist CAST has this program as part of their state where people have had to go through additional training to demonstrate knowledge on the ADA as a standards and local and state codes and things like that. But definitely you want to do due diligence if you are looking at -- ADA experts, there are a lot of people out who are doing this work, very good work. Just have to get (inaudible).
Yeah, and if I could piggyback on that, I I so I have a lot of agencies that ask is this something that we can do internally or should we hire a consultant for it. That's a different question for every agency. I have had some agencies that have said can you come in and train us on how to do the assessment process. I just it that a year ago with Cleveland metro parks. They dedicated 100 of their staff to receiving more than 32 hours of training which was huge for them. And then their -- so we trained them on the ADA soup to nuts and then we did more specific training for their plain planners on how to do their assesment. They had a team of 7 planners that spent the last year going out and assessing each of their sites and their ADA transition plan is now complimentary to each of those sites master plan which when they published the final document, you know, I am hugely proud of the work they have done. Once they have figure out how much staff time, there is no way we can dedicate that much staff time out of the office. It would be easier to hire a consultant. What I will say if I am hiring a consultant go talk to other consultants in the field before you issue an RFP. Don't just Google an RFP and find in your place their organization name within yours there is because some really bad ones out there. And you can get not very good results from copying and pasting like that. I will also say that just hiring an engineering firm or an architectural firm to do an assessment could result in overpaying for an assessment or a transition plan. And a transition plan itself I -- this is my personal opinion is I do not think that as the consultant's responsibility to put together the schedule. It has to be the agency's responsibility because it is the agency's plan. So I don't think that it is realistic to ask consultant to, you know, come up with a five year plan, what should we do first, second and third. The agency s what knows best and what priorities should be. So I would say if you were to look at to consultant or a third party to have them do the assessment process but that you put together the transition plan or work together with the consultant to put together the transition plan. I'm sure I just ticked a lot of people out there. We are happy to talk to you. We openly I like to work with the organizations that they want to do this. They want to revisit it. Not because it is the law. But because it is the right thing to do. You don't have to hire me. I have plenty work to do right now. But I want to see that you get the best product. And so when I see that an agency publishes their self-evaluation and transition plan and that they -- that they pay a consultant big bucks and, you know, the plan is 180 pages, but only 20 pages of it actually deal with the self-evaluation and the transition plan and the rest of the 100 pages are the ADA, the regulations and the standards, like that was a consultant that over charged you to copy and paste the regulation and I have seen dozen sz of those types of plans out there. That they have done more copying and pasting of the standards than giving the agency the meat and potatoes of what they need to do with an action plan.
Are you familiar with any price gouging or documents that give some kind of preliminary cost of what various types of accessibility items would cost in a survey?
Yes. So the one that a lot of people still fall back to is and it is -- it is the only document that's out there and I wish that somebody would take it upon themselves to work to revise it is the RS mens, ADA compliance pricing guide. It was only last updated in 2004. But it has -- oh, gosh. I have so many pages of it. It has hundreds of the most -- I shouldn't say hundreds. Probably break in to chapters between entrances and curb cuts. And plumbing fixtures and that. But it has those most frequently cited corrective actions and it gives you -- breaks down what the material cost more those corrective actions would be. You will have to do more adjustment though for inflation and the labor rate in your area. But it is a good starting place to get you started.
Great. Good resource. Here is a question for you. For government entity that awards grants to other government entities such as cities, counties, park agencies, what is that entity's responsibility for ensuring that its grantees are currently complying with the ADA? Do you have any suggestions or thoughts on that?
So the --
(Talking at the same time).
Yeah, that's a really good question. We have had a lot of granting agencies but in the annual award that includes giving an update on what their ADA compliance work has been. If the agency were just funding for specific projects, for any type of agency to do that I don't think it is a good idea to do that without seeing the actual plans. And doing a site visit once the project has been completed before it -- the project is actually sign ed off on. I have done a lot of work with different DNRs that they distribute the land and water conservation funds to municipalities for those different types of projects. And I just always think that it is a really good idea to see the actual plans ahead of time, provide technical assistance if needed, but make sure that the design review includes accessibility on it. And that a site visit is done before the final check is signed and given over to the grantee to make sure it is in compliance. There is too many new projects out there that are still not being done, that are not fully compliant. I mean just last week we went to a new park. It is less than a year old and it has a new rest room building. It only has one drinking fountain and the knee clearance that was installed at 25 inches knee clearance. So it is still really possible to not do it correctly.
Right. That is really critically important after installation for sure. Questions from -- do state accessibility codes override federal code or vice versa.
It depends. I don't know how I want to answer that one. So I don't really know how I want to answer it today. So some states and municipality have adopted more current versions of the International Building Code which are becoming more stringent. So I think that DOJ position is that wherever use a standard you are supposed to use the entirety of the standard and not pick and choose the places that you like. That used to be the issue between picking UFAS and the old ADAG. If you are picking your state code that has more stringent, if all of those other areas are at least consistent with the 2010 ADA standards you should be using your state code but it is -- but all depends on where the complaint comes from and I'm sure there is other people that would like to answer that differently. If you would like to answer that. That's fine with me. But I think you have to look at what the -- which one is the more stringent. Like right now the new standard -- the new International Building Code standard requires the vertical grab bar in the toilet stall. So if that is what your state code is using that's probably what you should be looking to as well.
Correct. And typically you look at which provides the greater degree of access for --
-- for individuals. You cannot go less but you can always go higher with the accessibility for sure.
(Talking at the same time).
We did all that harmonization between the building codes and the ADA and now we are all out of harmonization again.
I think that's the problem on going with the federal level if there is always a lag behind the federal level how other standards are developed because of the bureaucratic process and that's why you see at the federal level they are adapting more external standards as part of the ADA such as fire codes and things of that nature. So we don't see the problems with things that they are more best practices. Just being caught up in the regulatory process. So we are winding down here but what are the pitfalls in doing self-evaluation and tran tigs significance plan? . Failure to plan or to put everything in place before they start? What are the most pitfalls that you see?
I think the biggest pitfall is in going to with the approach or attitude that we are just trying to get this done to meet the law. In parks and recreation, a transition plan is required as part of the national accreditation process. There was 20 plus years ago when the ADA was passed that just added to that, we just need to get this done and then the documents get put on a shelf and they start collecting dust and the plans themselves, the modifications of policies and practices, the transition plan itself, they are never communicated with those -- with those key departments and so they are not effectively implemented. And the only way to effectively implement both the self-evaluation and the transition plan is that team approach everyone has to be involved. Everyone has to take ownership of their others of responsibility for it to be successful.
Agree. If you could repeat the guide.
So you can get it on Amazon. You might be able to get a used copy of it. It is the RS Means ADA compliance pricing guide. RS Means for years has done all different types of pricing guides resource documents like this for cost estimating. And so this one they work together with I think there was depth. Environments.
Correct. It was adaptive environments.
It was adaptive environment. And now the institute for human centered design. So they work together after the ADA was passed to do one that was specific to ADA compliance. And, you know, if anybody can talk them to in updating that that would be fantastic but RS means ADA compliance pricing guide.
Again we are at bottom of the hour. We do have to conclude our session. There are many more questions that went unanswered but we do have Jennifer's contact information and also strongly encourage you to be in contact with your regional ADA center and 800-949-4232 or you can visit website, that we fiPd locate to you to the center that serves your geographic center. We invite you to join us in November. Our next topic will be service animals and the ADA, exploring common issues and scenarios. Will be looking at real life scenarios and common questions as service animals continue to be an issue that is (inaudible) more than anything with a lot of questions and in some situations problematic and we are seeing more state laws start to crop up here and there trying to address some of these issues. Please join us November 21st for that particular session. At this time we we like to thank Jennifer for her time today and sharing her expertise and thank you for joining us today. This session was recorded. We will be posting the audio as well as a transcript in website and you will receive an e-mail related to any credit for attending today's session and evaluation. We do appreciate your feedback following the conclusion of this session. Again thank you everyone for joining us and I hope you have rest of your good one as well as the rest of the week. Take care everyone. And you can now hang up the phone or close out your browser as the session is now concluded. Thank you.
Ladies and gentlemen thank you for participating in today's conference. This concludes today's conference. Please stand by.