Show 75 - More DOJ Proposed Regulation Changes

Listen to Show 75

This episode follows up on the last one, talking about more regulations to the ADA that the Department of Justice is considering revising. Please follow the links below for more information. And remember to include wither the Docket number or the RIN number in any correspondence, so they know which item you are commenting on.

Accessing Higher Ground: Accessible Media, Web and Technology conference

Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services; Accessibility of Next Generation 911
Docket No. 111
RIN 1190-AA62

Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Movie Captioning and Video Description
Docket No. 112
RIN 1190-AA63

Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by State and Local Governments and Places of Public Accommodation; Equipment and Furniture
Docket No. 113
RIN 1190-AA64

To submit comments, again, be sure to reference the Docket number or RIN number and:

1) Go to and follow the directions for submitting comments.
2) Send regular US mail to: Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, P.O. Box 2885, Fairfax, VA 22031-0885.
3) Overnight, courier or hand delivery: Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 1425 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 4039, Washington, D.C. 20005.


You are listening to the Disability411 podcast, show number 75.

Hello, and welcome to the Disability411 podcast. I'm your host, Beth Case. And I want to send out a very special hello and welcome to all of my new friends and listeners that I met at the Accessing Higher Ground conference this week. It was an amazing conference. If you have not heard about it or not been there before, it's about how to make the web and technology accessible to people with disabilities. And it was just amazing. I just... I learned so much I think my brain is going to explode. (laugh) And I'm going to try and process it a little bit, digest it and share some of that information with you all, hopefully, in upcoming shows to share the great knowledge that I got there. I will put a link in this show notes so you can go to their web site and check it out and maybe make plans to attend next year.

Now, today, I'm going to be continuing the discussion from our last show about the Department of Justice considering changing some of the regulations to the ADA and how they're right now in the comment period. I'm not going to go a whole lot more into that. If you
didn't listen to the last show, or you're not familiar with this call for comment period, I'm just going to direct to you to go back and listen to show 74. And I'll put a link to that directly in the show notes as well. Because I have a lot to talk about today and I don't really want to waste time going back over that again. So this is very important, so if you're not familiar, please go back and check that out.

So there's three sections that the Department of Justice is asking for comment on that I have not covered yet. And initially I was going to do a show on each one, but time for comments is running out. All comments need to be in by January 24, 2011. So what I'm going to do instead is just sort of cover a little bit on each of the three remaining areas and then direct you to the websites where you can learn more information. Because there really is a lot more than I'll have time to go over.

So the first one I'm going to talk about, you can search for this code to make it a little bit easier to find it or, of course, go to the web site at And I'll have a direct link. But it's RIN 1190-AA62. And it's Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services. And this is related to 911 emergency calls. Right now, 911 emergency call centers do not have a way of receiving emergency calls through text or through the Internet, like Internet video. Those are techniques that a lot of people use for communication, especially people who are Deaf, who may be in an emergency situation, the need to call 911, all they can do is text and yet they can't get to the call center because they're not able to receive text.

But there's a new protocol that's called Next Generation 911, or you often hear it abbreviated NG-911. And this is being developed and it would allow the emergency services to be able to receive messages and requests for help in other ways such as text and video. So because of this new protocol, this new technology, the Department of Justice is looking at whether they need to make some changes to the ADA that will allow for this, that will address this.

So some of the questions they are asking are things like, you know, "what kind of equipment to people with disabilities use for
communication?" Things like text and video. "What else is out there? What kind of hardware are they using?" Cell phone, pagers, the computer, that sort of thing.

This is going to come up again and again as I talk about this. I think a lot of us, our initial response is "Well, of course they need to do that! Of course that need to put something in the law that addresses this ability for people with disabilities to have full access to all these things we're going to be talking about." But there's a lot of things you have to consider, as well. So for example, in this situation, if they accept calls, if they accept video calls, and a Deaf person calls and they're signing, are they going to have interpreters on staff 24/7 at every call center in the world? Well, in the United States? Just in case a Deaf person calls in on a video? That doesn't seem very realistic to be able to do that. How are they going to handle that? Are video calls, should they be routed to a specific call center that would then send the message to the local 911. Should there be some kind of video relay service built into the process? These are the kind of questions that they're asking. These are just some of the logistics that you need to consider.

Another thing they're asking about in relation to 911 is how to handle emergency alerts. A lot of communities have set up a way to send out alerts when there's an emergency. They put stuff on the television or they have these automatic calls that, you know, call everyone in the region that's being affected. How can they make that accessible, to send a text message, or, I mean, they don't have an answer. That's why this is a call for comment. They're wanting to know what your thoughts are. So it would be really great to just think about your suggestions and think about logistically, "How are they going to do this?" Because I think it's really easy for us to just say "Yeah, of course they should have this call center" and "Of course they should be able to receive video calls from someone who's signing." But it's not really feasible to expect every call center in the United States to have an interpreter there just in case. So how might that be addressed?

The next one I'm going to talk about it RIN 1190-AA63. And this is Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability; Movie Captioning and
Video Description. So Title III of the ADA refers to the accessibility of public places, like movie theaters. And right now there's no law that specifically says movie theaters must have movies with captions or one voice or audio descriptions for the blind. But as you may or may not know, there are captioned films that kind of travel the country and so that Deaf people can go and watch a movie that's captioned. In a movie theater. They don't have to wait for it to come out on DVD or on cable or whatever.

The Department of Justice is considering requiring that movie theaters offer movies that have captions and audio descriptions. They're considering making this a requirement for at least fifty percent of the movies. No, I admit when I first read this, I was thinking that every time I went to a movie, I would see captions and hear audio descriptions. And that's really not what they're talking about. There would be special equipment required for people who needed them to have access to it. So for example, if you needed the audio descriptions, perhaps you would have of a special set of headphones and a player or something that would allow only you to hear the second track for the audio descriptions, not everybody in the theater. And there might be some kind of display that if someone needs the captioning, that they hang on the back of the seat in front of them that displays the captioning. I honestly don't know what all the possibilities are, but I do know that they're not talking about open captions that would be there all the time or audio descriptions that were part of the permanent track. They would require some kind of deice. So for the average movie goer, they would never even notice that there was something special about that movie.

Some of the questions they're asking about this is "How to compute that percentage?" If you say it has to be 50%, well is that 50% of the showings? Fifty percent of the movies? Fifty percent of screens? Fifty percent of what? What kind of equipment is going to be needed to make it possible for these theaters to be able to do this? To have the captions and audio descriptions? What kins of retrofitting is going to be needed? What about really small theaters that, you know, maybe only have a couple of screens? I'm thinking, for example, of this dollar theater I used to go to a lot. It was kind of small, kind of run down, and charging a dollar a movie, it certainly didn't make a lot of money. You know, requiring them to do something very expensive might put them out of business. So, should there be exemptions for some movie theaters not to have to follow this rule?

When would those captioned and audio described movies be available? The same day that the movie comes out? Or a week later? When should that be available?

They want to know, what is the technology that's available to let people see the captions, let people hear the audio descriptions. Is
there something that's being developed now that maybe isn't out commercially but that they should know about and consider? How should
they advertise witch movies have this available. Should it just be printed in the newspaper with the movie listings? Have some kind of, I don't know, little symbol or code showing that, that time and that movie has the captioning and audio descriptions available? Or should there be some sort of special mailing list or web site or something for people where you can sign up for it, if that's something you're interested in? And think creatively. How could they let people know about it?

And then, again, going back to the logistical issues. How are they going to train their staff on how to use this equipment? Does everyone need to be trained on it or just make sure that at least one person on staff at all times is familiar with how to use the equipment in case they need to trouble shoot or teach someone how to use it?

So that's kind of the high points of that section, that they're asking for feedback about.

And then the last one is RIN 1190-AA64. Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by State and Local Governments and Places of Public Accommodation; Equipment and Furniture. I have to admit when I first read this, I was like "Equipment and furniture?" I was just kind of confused about that because for some reason all I could think about what office furniture. But this actually covers a lot of areas. And I'm just going to mention some of them. For example, in the medical field, a lot of the examination tables in the doctors' offices are not accessible. And sometimes, for example, if a person is in a wheelchair and they're not very mobile and they can't get the person up onto the examination table, that person may be examined in their chair. And, you now, if you're a woman and going for your annual exam, it's not really easy to do that in that chair. So what often happens is that the examination is not as thorough as perhaps it would be if the person could have gotten onto the table. And some things may be missed.

I actually know someone that that did happen to you because she has severe enough physical disabilities it's difficult to get her out of her chair onto an examination table. And she had a lot of genealogical problems that were not caught early because of the difficulty of doing the exam on her. So that's one thing that's covered under this new section.

Also scales. Again a lot of times people in wheelchairs are not weighed because of the difficulty of, they can't get out of their chair to stand on a standard scale and the doctor's offices not having a scale that's you can just roll your wheelchair up on. But if you have a significant weight change, whether it's a gain or a loss, that can be a sign of other problems. And if this person is not getting weighed every time they go to the doctor's office, that signal may be missed.

Other things, such as radiology equipment, X-rays, MRIs. Again, they may not be accessible to someone who has severe physical disabilities and/or uses a wheelchair that they cannot easily get in and out of.

So, again, this is one of those things where you say "Well, yeah, of course there needs to be an accessible examination table at all
doctors' offices." But how many? How many rooms should have the accessible tables? Just looking at the logistics. I'm not saying, I am absolutely not saying "Well it's too expensive, therefore they don't have to do it." But when you start adding up a lot of costs, it could put someone out of business if it's a private practice. So it's just logistics. How are we going to make sure that people have access while not putting people out of business. Again, looking at those percentages of how many? If they have ten examination rooms, you know, one having an accessible table? Is that enough? Half of them? Just what are your thoughts? They want to know what your opinions are.

Another section that falls under this "equipment and furniture" are health clubs, about accessible exercise equipment. You're looking at accessible weights or machines. What kind of equipment is available? What's out there that can be used by people who have physical disabilities? How many pieces of equipment should be accessible? Can they be used independently or does the gym need to be able to provide a trainer or an assistant to go with someone to help them, you know, get in and out of the equipment?

So that's just kind of an interesting area that falls under this category that I hadn't really thought about when I just read
"Furniture and Equipment".

Another section is accessible beds in hotel rooms, or dorm rooms or even hospital rooms. You know, you would expect that hospitals would have accessible beds, but apparently a lot of them don't.

Another category under here is information technology equipment, such as kiosks, you know, where you go to ask for information, maybe you're in a touristy area and you want to get some information about how to get to the museum, sometimes there's these kiosks that you can go up to and ask for directions. ATMs, they're called "point of sale devices". These are things like, you know those machines where you can go up and buy something without having to interact with a person. Like when you go to the movies and you can go up to the machine and get your tickets, just buy your tickets with the machine, you don't have to go up to the teller window. Or the red box DVD rentals that you see sometimes outside the drug store. Automatically being able to pay for your gas at the gas station. I can't think of any other examples right now. But those kind of things where you can just go up and buy something. Those are called "point of sale" devices. So questions about how to make those accessible, what are the problems, how should it be done, that sort of thing.

And then just "what else"? What other things can you think of, what other areas can you think of where equipment and furniture is an

And this is really important. I know I lectured about this last time and I just want to take a second to do it again. It is really
important that you guys go and read the more detailed documents. Because I only touched on a few of the highlights of each one. You
really need to go and read the whole thing. There's some background information in there about why this is an issue, it talks a little bit about some of the logistical things. Like I said, it'd be great if we just said "Yes, of course, all point of sale technology devices must be accessible." Well, OK. How? How can that be done? And even if there was a perfect way of doing it, there's like millions of these machines. What should the roll out be? You can't just say that by tomorrow everything has to be done. What's the plan? What's the strategy?

But go and read the official documents and then please send your comments because they don't know all the issues. The only people who
know all the issues are the people who struggle with this on a daily basis. So if you have a disability or you know someone who has a
disability and you have seen them struggle in any of these areas. You know, last time we talked about the Web, and then today we talked about movie theaters, 911 calls and furniture and equipment. If you know personally of the struggles someone has in accesses these areas, you have to comment. Because otherwise the Department of Justice isn't going to know and they're not going to take that into consideration and they're going to write regulations that you say "Why did they write it this way? Didn't they know?" Well, they didn't if you didn't tell them. You can't assume that somebody else is going to tell them what they need to know. So, lecture done.

Go to I will have as many useful links as possible in the show notes there. And go follow up on this. This is really, really important, guys. So we will end it there for today. As always, go to to catch up on our past shows, read the transcripts of this and all of our past shows. You can always e-mail me at I am work in getting an easier e-mail address but don't quite have that set up yet so for now that will work. And I already have the interview for our next show recorded. I'm just waiting on a couple of more bits of information before I put that show together and have it
available for you. So have a great Thanksgiving everyone and I will talk to you soon. This is Beth Case, with the Disability411 podcast.

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