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Sullivan County Department of Family Services (DFS)

Sullivan County Department of Family Services (DFS)
Resolution Agreement

VOLUNTARY RESOLUTION AGREEMENT
Between
OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS, REGION II
And
Sullivan County Department of Family Services

Background

  1. The parties to this Voluntary Resolution Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the “Agreement”) are the Sullivan County Department of Family Services (hereinafter referred to as “DFS”) located in Liberty, New York and the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Region II, New York, New York (hereinafter referred to as “OCR”).

  2. DFS acknowledges that, as a public entity providing social services, it is subject to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (hereinafter referred to as the “ADA”), and its implementing regulation promulgated by the U.S. Department of Justice, 28 C.F.R. Part 35.

  3. DFS further acknowledges that, as a recipient of Federal financial assistance via Title XIX (Medicaid) of the Social Security Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq., it is subject to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (hereinafter referred to as “Section 504”) and its implementing regulation promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 45 C.F.R. Part 84.

  4. On December 7, 2005, OCR received a complaint (OCR reference number 06-45585) from an individual (hereinafter referred to as the “Complainant”) against DFS, alleging discrimination on the basis of disability. Specifically, the Complainant alleged that DFS staff discriminated against her on the basis of disability (deaf or hard-of-hearing), by failing to provide her with a qualified sign language interpreter, in violation of the ADA and Section 504.

  5. In order to resolve this matter expeditiously and without further burden or expense of government investigation or litigation, DFS agrees to the terms of this Agreement with OCR, which Agreement addresses the issues in the complaint and reiterates DFS’s assurance of its intention to comply with all provisions of the ADA, Section 504 and their respective implementing regulations.

    CERTAIN DEFINITIONS

  6. The term “Appropriate Auxiliary Aids and Services” includes, but is not limited to: qualified sign language or oral interpreters; computer-assisted real time transcription services; written materials; telephone handset amplifiers; assistive listening devices and systems; telephones compatible with hearing aids; closed caption decoders; open and closed captioning; TTY/TDD; videotext displays; or video interpreting services. See 28 C.F.R. § 35.104.

  7. The term “Client” or “Clients” shall be broadly construed to include any individual who is seeking or receiving services from DFS.

  8. “Companion” means a person who is deaf or hard-of-hearing, accompanying either a deaf or hard-of-hearing Client or a hearing Client of DFS, and is one of the following: (a) a person whom the Client indicates should communicate, or circumstances otherwise indicate should communicate, with DFS Staff about the Client, the Client’s needs or history; (b) a person who is authorized to help the Client act on the information, advice, or instructions provided by DFS Staff; or (c) such other person with whom the DFS Staff would ordinarily and regularly communicate regarding the provision of DFS services.

  9. The term “DFS Staff” shall mean all employees and independent contractors with contracts to work on a substantially full-time basis for (or on a part-time basis exclusively for) DFS, including, without limitation, DFS supervisory staff, social welfare examiners and any individuals, who have or are likely to have direct contact with Clients or Companions.

  10. The term “Parties” shall mean DFS and OCR.

  11. The term “Qualified Interpreter,” “sign language interpreter,” “oral interpreter” or “interpreter” shall mean a person who is able to interpret competently, accurately, impartially and effectively, both receptively and expressively, using any specialized terminology necessary for effective communication in a social service setting such as DFS with a deaf or hard-of-hearing Client or Companion. Not all interpreters are qualified for all situations. For example, an interpreter who is qualified to interpret using American Sign Language is not necessarily qualified to interpret orally. Also, someone who has rudimentary familiarity with sign language or finger spelling is not a qualified sign language interpreter under this Agreement. Likewise, someone who is fluent in sign language but who does not possess the ability to process spoken communication into proper signs or to observe someone else signing and change their signed or finger spelled communication into spoken words is not a qualified sign language interpreter. A “Qualified Interpreter” may include a “relay interpreter” who has special skill and training in acting as an intermediary between a Client or Companion and a sign language interpreter in instances when the interpreter cannot otherwise independently understand the consumer’s primary mode of communication.

  12. The terms “TTY” (teletypewriter) or “TDD” (telecommunications device for deaf persons) shall mean devices that are used with a telephone to communicate with persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing by typing and reading communications.

    GENERAL PROVISIONS

  13. Scope. This Agreement resolves the specific issues addressed in the complaint referenced above, and is not intended to preclude or prejudice any other compliance review or complaint investigation that may be pending before OCR now or in the future. Any other compliance matters arising from subsequent compliance reviews or complaint investigations shall be dealt with and resolved separately.

  14. Non-Waiver. Failure by OCR to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision shall not be construed as a waiver of OCR’s right to enforce other deadlines or any provision of this Agreement.

  15. No Admission of Non-Compliance. This Agreement shall not be construed as an admission or evidence that DFS has not complied with the ADA, Section 504 or their respective implementing regulations with respect to the allegations in the complaint.

  16. Effective Date and Term of the Agreement. The Parties agree that this Agreement shall become effective as of the date that both Parties have signed it (the “Effective Date”). This Agreement shall remain in effect for the longer of: (a) eighteen (18) months following the Effective Date of this Agreement, plus any period of time extended by OCR in accordance with Paragraph 31.h of this Agreement; or (b) six (6) months after the date the contract identified in Paragraph 31.1.iv of this Agreement is executed and effective (the “Term”). At such time, this Agreement shall terminate, provided that DFS is in substantial compliance with this Agreement. Notwithstanding the Term of this Agreement, DFS acknowledges that it shall comply with Section 504 for so long as it continues to receive Federal financial assistance.

  17. No Discrimination or Retaliation. The Parties agree that there shall be no discrimination or retaliation of any kind against any person because he or she provided any testimony or otherwise assisted OCR during the investigation of this complaint or because he or she in the future may participate in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing regarding this complaint investigation or regarding compliance with this Agreement.

  18. Records; Data Requests. Throughout the Term of this Agreement, DFS agrees to retain all records specified in this Agreement and to provide the written documentation required by this Agreement. DFS also agrees to provide such other information as may be requested and reasonably necessary to assure OCR that the provisions of the Agreement have been fulfilled.

  19. Review of Compliance. OCR may, at any time, review DFS’s compliance with this Agreement. As part of such review, OCR may require written reports, interview witnesses and/or examine and copy DFS documents. DFS agrees to retain the records required by OCR to assess DFS’s compliance with this Agreement throughout the Term of this Agreement. OCR shall maintain the confidentiality of all documents, files and records received from DFS and shall not disclose their contents except where necessary in formal enforcement proceedings or where otherwise required by law.

  20. Notice of Non-Compliance. During the duration of this Agreement, if at any time OCR determines that DFS has failed to comply with any provision of this Agreement, OCR shall notify DFS in writing. The notice shall include a statement of the basis for OCR’s determination and shall allow DFS fifteen (15) working days either: (a) to explain in writing the reasons for its actions and describe the remedial actions that have been or shall be taken to achieve compliance with this Agreement; or (b) to dispute the accuracy of OCR’s findings. On notice to DFS, OCR may shorten the fifteen (15) day period if it determines that a delay would result in irreparable injury to the Complainant or to other affected parties. If DFS does not respond to the notice, or if, upon review of DFS’s response, OCR finds that DFS has not substantially complied with the terms of the Agreement, OCR may, refer the matter to the Department of Justice or, as it deems appropriate, initiate legal proceedings to enforce this Agreement upon notice to DFS.

  21. Technical Assistance. OCR agrees to provide appropriate technical assistance to DFS regarding compliance with this Agreement, as requested and as reasonably necessary.

  22. Modifications; Entire Agreement. This Agreement may only be modified by mutual agreement of the Parties in writing. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement by the Parties and no other statement, promise or agreement, either written or oral, made by either Party or any agents of a Party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, including any attachments, shall be enforceable.

  23. Severability. In the event that a court of competent jurisdiction determines that any provision of this Agreement is unenforceable, such provision shall be severed from this Agreement and all other provisions shall remain valid and enforceable; provided, however, that if the severance of any such provision materially alters the rights or obligations of the Parties, they shall, through reasonable, good faith negotiations, agree upon such other amendments hereto as may be necessary to restore the Parties as closely as possible to the relative rights and obligations initially intended by them hereunder.

  24. Compliance with Applicable Laws. Any modification or amendment of this Agreement does not affect DFS’s independent responsibilities under any applicable Federal, state or local laws or regulations.

    PROHIBITION OF DISCRIMINATION

  25. Non-Discrimination. DFS shall provide deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions, with the full and equal enjoyment of the services, privileges, facilities, advantages and accommodations of DFS as required by the ADA and Section 504.

  26. Discrimination by Association. DFS shall not deny equal services, accommodations or other opportunities to any individual because of the known relationship of the person with someone who is deaf or hard-of-hearing.

    EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

    GENERAL OBLIGATIONS

  27. Establishment of Program to Provide Appropriate Auxiliary Aids and Services. Within sixty (60) days after the Effective Date of this Agreement, DFS shall institute a Program (“Program”) to effectively implement the provisions of this Agreement, including without limitation:

    1. developing, coordinating, and overseeing the development of specific policies and procedures to implement fully this Agreement;
    2. scheduling, announcing, and ensuring all training required by this Agreement; and
    3. drafting, maintaining, and providing all reports required by this Agreement.

     

  28. Designation of 504 Coordinator. Simultaneously with the establishment of the Program, DFS shall designate one individual to serve as its Section 504 Coordinator, who, in conjunction with one or more designees, shall maintain full information about access to, and the operation of, the Program. The Section 504 Coordinator and his/her designees shall be available to answer questions and provide appropriate assistance regarding immediate access to, and proper use of, the appropriate auxiliary aids and services required by this Agreement. The Section 504 Coordinator and his/her designees shall know where the appropriate auxiliary aids are stored and how to operate them, and shall be responsible for their maintenance, repair, replacement, and distribution. DFS shall circulate broadly within all DFS offices the name, telephone number, functions, and office location of the Section 504 Coordinator and his/her designees, including a TTY telephone number that may be called by Clients and Companions who are deaf or hard-of-hearing in order to obtain the assistance of the Section 504 Coordinator.

    Provision of Appropriate Auxiliary Aids and Services
    Under the Program

  29. Policy. DFS shall provide deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions with appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, at no cost to such individual(s) as necessary for effective communication.

  30. Immediate Aids and Services. DFS agrees that it shall provide deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions any of the following appropriate auxiliary aids and services that may be necessary for effective communication, as soon as possible after making such determination: written materials, note takers, assistive listening devices, assistive listening systems, and computer-assisted real time transcription services; and shall also provide qualified interpreter services within the time period specified below.

  31. Provision of Appropriate Auxiliary Aids and Services. DFS shall provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters, as specified below:
    1. Assessment. DFS shall consult with individual Clients, who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, and Companions, wherever possible to determine what type of auxiliary aid or interpretive service is needed to ensure effective communication. While consultation is strongly encouraged, the ultimate decision as to what measures to take to ensure effective communication rests in the hands of DFS, provided that the method chosen results in effective communication. The assessment shall take into account all relevant facts and circumstances, including without limitation, the nature, length, and importance of the communication at issue, the individual’s communication skills and knowledge.
    2. Time for Initial Assessment. The determination of which appropriate auxiliary aids and services are necessary to ensure effective communication, and the timing, duration and frequency, with which they will be provided, shall be made at the time an appointment is scheduled for the deaf or hard-of-hearing Client, or on the arrival of the Client or Companion at DFS, whichever is earlier. The performance and completion of communication assessments shall be documented in the Client’s record.
    3. Ongoing Assessments; Successive Visits. DFS Staff shall reassess the effectiveness of communication, as necessary, throughout the course of the deaf or hard-of-hearing Client’s receipt of services from DFS. In the event that communication is not effective, DFS Staff shall reassess which appropriate auxiliary aids and services are necessary, in consultation, where possible, with the Client (or Companion, as applicable and appropriate). DFS shall implement policies and procedures to expedite arrangements for the provision of appropriate auxiliary aids and services for successive visits to DFS. DFS shall keep appropriate records that reflect the ongoing assessments, such as notations in the Client’s record.
    4. Individual Notice. DFS shall develop and, at the time of the initial communication assessment, disseminate a written notice to the deaf or hard-of-hearing Client or Companion, which advises the Client or Companion of his/her right to have appropriate auxiliary aids and services at no charge where necessary for effective communication. The written notice shall display a typographic symbol for sign language. Following the communication assessment procedure required by Paragraph 31.a of this Agreement, if necessary for effective communication, DFS Staff shall inform the deaf or hard-of-hearing Client or Companion that appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including a qualified interpreter, are available free of charge.
    5. Restricted Use of Certain Persons to Facilitate Communication. Due to considerations of confidentiality, potential emotional involvement and other factors that may adversely affect the ability to facilitate communication, DFS shall not require, coerce or rely upon a family member, caregiver, advocate or friend of a deaf or hard-of-hearing Client or Companion to interpret or facilitate communications between DFS Staff and such Client or Companion, except that such person may provide such assistance if all four (4) of the following factors are present:
      1. such person wishes to provide such assistance;
      2. the Client or Companion wishes such person to provide such assistance and DFS staff has made a good faith effort to obtain a written acknowledgment from the Client or Companion that he/she agrees to the use of such person to interpret or facilitate communication. If the Client or Companion is not willing to provide a written acknowledgment, DFS staff shall document in the Client’s case file its good faith efforts to obtain such acknowledgment and the reason why the acknowledgement was not obtained;
      3. the Client or Companion has been made aware of the full range of communication facilitating options available free of charge; and
      4. such use is necessary or appropriate under the circumstances, giving appropriate consideration to any privacy or conflict of interest issues that may arise.
    6. Provision of Qualified Interpreters in a Timely Manner. For scheduled appointments, DFS shall make a qualified interpreter available at the time of the scheduled appointment, if necessary for effective communication. For any situation that is not a scheduled appointment, DFS shall make an interpreter available within two (2) hours or less.

    7. Determination Not to Provide Appropriate Auxiliary Aids and Services. If, after conducting an assessment in accordance with this Agreement, DFS Staff determine:
      1. that the circumstances do not warrant provision of appropriate auxiliary aids and services;
      2. to provide different appropriate auxiliary aids and services than that preferred by the Client or Companion; or
      3. to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services at a time, or for a duration or frequency, different from that preferred by the Client or Companion,

      then DFS Staff shall so advise the person requesting the appropriate auxiliary aids and services and shall document: (a) the date and time of the determination; (b) the name and title of the DFS Staff who made the determination; (c) the basis for the determination; and (d) the notification made to the Client or Companion of the grievance procedure, identified in Paragraph 31.i of this Agreement. A copy of this documentation shall be made available to the Client or Companion when the circumstances allow or upon request, shall be maintained with the log described in Paragraph 31.h of this Agreement, and contained in the Client’s record.

    8. Log; Documentation. Within sixty (60) days after the Effective Date of this Agreement, DFS shall implement a log to identify all deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions and to track all requests for, and DFS’s provision of, appropriate auxiliary aids and services. DFS shall continue to maintain this log for eighteen (18) months following the Effective Date of this Agreement (unless such time period is extended by OCR’s providing written notice to DFS of such extension), and shall retain the log throughout the Term of this Agreement. The log shall contain the following information:
      1. the date of first contact with the Client or Companion and the time and date of the scheduled appointment (if a scheduled appointment was made);
      2. the date(s) and time(s) of any requests by a Client or Companion for a qualified interpreter or other appropriate auxiliary aids and services;
      3. the type of appropriate auxiliary aids and services requested;
      4. the type of appropriate auxiliary aids and services provided by DFS;
      5. the time(s) and date(s) the appropriate auxiliary aids and services were provided by DFS, or a statement that the appropriate auxiliary aids and services were not provided and the basis for such determination;
      6. the identity of the Client or Companion in a manner that appropriately protects the confidentiality of the Client and Companion;
      7. the name of the DFS Staff who performed any communication assessment or reassessment;
      8. the name of the DFS Staff responsible for the determination of the appropriate auxiliary aids and services.

      DFS shall develop a standard form to be completed by DFS Staff who interact with the Client or Companion. DFS Staff shall be instructed to specify the Client’s/Companion’s preferred method of communication on the forms. DFS Staff shall document when they offer appropriate auxiliary aids and services to a Client or Companion and if such offer is refused. DFS shall ensure that all such forms shall be signed and dated by both the DFS Staff member and the Client or Companion, as applicable and appropriate, and retained in the Client’s record.

    9. Complaint Resolution. Within sixty (60) days after the Effective Date of this Agreement, DFS shall implement an effective complaint resolution mechanism regarding the use of the Program by deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions and shall maintain records of all complaints filed and actions taken with respect thereto. DFS shall develop a written grievance procedure for Clients and Companions who receive services from DFS. The grievance procedure shall specify a process for the receipt and investigation of complaints regarding the provision of qualified interpreter assistance and other appropriate auxiliary aids and services. Consistent with the requirements of 45 C.F.R. § 84.7(a) and 28 C.F.R. § 35.107(a), DFS shall designate a responsible employee to receive and investigate complaints filed pursuant to the grievance procedure and coordinate its efforts to comply with Federal civil rights laws. DFS also shall take appropriate steps to notify Clients and Companions of their right to file complaints under the procedure and provide copies of its revised written policies and procedures concerning the use of qualified interpreters and other appropriate auxiliary aids and services to all DFS Staff. Throughout the Term of this Agreement, DFS shall maintain records of all grievances/complaints regarding effective communication with Clients and/or Companions, including copies of all grievances/complaints or notes reflecting oral complaints made to DFS, and actions taken with respect thereto.
    10. Prohibition of Surcharges. All appropriate auxiliary aids and services required by this Agreement shall be provided free of charge to deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions.
    11. Circumstances Under Which Qualified Interpreters Shall Be Provided. DFS shall provide qualified interpreters to deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions, as necessary for effective communication for DFS programs, services and activities. The following are examples of circumstances when it may be necessary to provide interpreters:
      1. Certification Meetings
      2. Recertification Meetings
      3. Filing of complaints or grievances against DFS or DFS Staff

      The foregoing list of circumstances is neither exhaustive nor mandatory, and shall not imply that there are not other circumstances when it may be appropriate to provide qualified interpreters for effective communication nor that a qualified interpreter must always be provided in these circumstances.

    12. Additional Interpreter Resources. Within sixty (60) days after the Effective Date of this Agreement, DFS agrees that it shall:
      1. assess the resources available to assist DFS with meeting its obligations under this Agreement;
      2. confirm whether the interpreter of ASL listed by the Sullivan County Office of Personnel and Civil Service Administration (hereinafter referred to as the “Sullivan County Interpreter”) is a qualified sign language interpreter, and if she is, confirm the process (contact person, notice period to schedule an appointment, etc.) to schedule her if she is needed to provide services at DFS;
      3. confirm whether the recently hired DFS employee who has knowledge of ASL is a qualified sign language interpreter;
      4. enter into a contract with an organization or an individual who will provide qualified sign language interpreter services, in the event the Sullivan County Interpreter is either not qualified for a particular situation or is not available at the times needed by DFS.

      DFS shall use its best efforts to enter into the contract identified above in Paragraph 31.l.iv within the identified time frame. The Parties recognize that the Sullivan County vendor contracting process involves entities outside the control of DFS, such as the Sullivan County Legislature, Sullivan County Attorney and Sullivan County Manager, which may prevent such a contract from being executed within the identified time frame. Upon OCR’s request, DFS shall advise OCR in writing of such contract’s progress through the vendor contracting process.

    13. Teletypewriter/Telecommunications Device for Deaf Persons. To the extent that DFS permits hearing Clients to place outgoing telephone calls from DFS offices, DFS shall permit deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients or Companions to place outgoing calls using the TTY/TDD. To the extent that DFS accepts incoming telephone calls from hearing Clients, DFS shall accept incoming calls from Clients or Companions via TTY/TDD and/or 711 relay operator services.
    14. Open Captioning. DFS represents and warrants that it currently does not present any information to hearing Clients via an audiovisual format, such as videotape, DVD or CD-ROM. DFS agrees that any audiovisual materials created after the Effective Date of this Agreement for use by Clients shall include open captions.
    15. Data Collection; Monitoring of Performance; Feedback Forms. DFS shall collect data on the effectiveness of the appropriate auxiliary aid provided and the performance of a qualified interpreter provided. DFS shall also prepare a form, subject to the review and approval of OCR in accordance with Paragraph 36.a of this Agreement, requesting feedback concerning the timeliness and effectiveness of interpreter services and other appropriate auxiliary aids. Such feedback form shall be provided to each deaf or hard-of-hearing Client or Companion who was provided an interpreter or other appropriate auxiliary aid. DFS shall develop a convenient process to allow such Clients or Companions to complete and return the feedback forms; the Client/Companion shall choose whether or not to avail himself or herself of that opportunity. For some Clients or Companions, limited written English proficiency may be a barrier to understanding or completing the form. DFS shall offer assistance, including additional interpreter services, where necessary for Clients or Companions to complete the form. Clients or Companions who receive services on an ongoing basis do not need to receive a feedback form after every visit. DFS shall use the feedback forms that it does receive for monitoring and evaluating the performance of each interpreter and the other appropriate auxiliary aids it provides to Clients and Companions. DFS shall maintain the completed feedback forms throughout the Term of this Agreement.

       

  32. Signage. Within sixty (60) days after the Effective Date of this Agreement, DFS shall develop and post written and pictograph notices of conspicuous size and print in all waiting and reception areas within DFS, informing the public of the availability of qualified interpreter assistance and other appropriate auxiliary aids and services. Such signage shall be to the following effect: Qualified sign language or oral interpreters, TTYs/TDDs and other auxiliary aids and services are available free of charge to people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. For assistance, please contact _______. These signs shall include the international symbols for “interpreters” and “TTYs/TDDs.”

    TRAINING OF DEPARTMENT STAFF

  33. Training. Within sixty (60) days after receiving OCR approval in accordance with Paragraph 36.a of this Agreement, DFS shall:
    1. Provide one or more mandatory comprehensive training sessions for certain categories of DFS Staff (such as the 504 coordinator and her designees, the receptionists, and certain social welfare examiners and clerical staff, designated by the 504 coordinator) who are likely to interact with deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions and for the supervisors of such DFS Staff. Such mandatory training shall be provided at least annually thereafter for such DFS Staff. Such training shall also be a mandatory part of new employee orientation for such DFS Staff and the content of the training shall be summarized and permanently placed in the employee manual.
    2. Distribute, by mail, email or other means, a set of materials to all DFS Staff. These materials shall contain at least the following:
      1. A written summary (A) informing DFS Staff that DFS is required by law to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including, for example, sign language interpreters, to deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions, at no cost to such individuals, as necessary to ensure effective communication, (B) listing all DFS Staff designated to attend the comprehensive training referenced at Paragraph 33.a of this Agreement, and (C) directing DFS Staff to refer any deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions that they may encounter to such listed DFS Staff;
      2. Copies of the policies and procedures newly developed pursuant to this Agreement, including the policies and procedures referenced at Paragraphs 27.a and 31.c, the written notice referenced at Paragraph 31.d., the log referenced at Paragraph 31.h, the standard form referenced at Paragraph 31.h, the grievance procedure referenced at Paragraph 31.i, and the feedback forms referenced at Paragraph 31.o; and
      3. A form to be signed by each DFS Staff member, acknowledging that he/she has received and reviewed such materials.

      DFS also shall distribute such materials to all new employees as part of their orientation.

  34. Content of Comprehensive Training. The comprehensive training referenced in Paragraph 33.a of this Agreement shall include the following objectives: to promptly identify communications needs and preferences of persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing; to secure qualified interpreter services as quickly as possible when necessary to ensure effective communication; how to use any equipment available at DFS, such as the TTY/TDD; how to use the 711 relay operator service; and an explanation of all policies and procedures described and/or modified pursuant to this Agreement. Such training should also encourage sensitivity to the needs of those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

  35. Records Maintenance. DFS agrees that it shall record and document the dates, times and locations of the comprehensive training provided pursuant to this Agreement, the name and title of persons attending such training, all agenda items covered during such training. DFS also shall maintain a copy of any materials distributed to participants of such training. DFS also shall record and document the date(s), method(s) of distribution, and identities of DFS Staff to whom it distributes the materials required under Paragraph 33.b of this Agreement. DFS shall maintain the signed forms referenced in Paragraph 33.b.iii throughout the Term of this Agreement. DFS further agrees that it shall provide copies of all such records and materials upon request to OCR and in accordance with the reporting requirements of this Agreement.

    DOCUMENTATION

  36. DFS agrees to provide OCR with the following:

    1. Within sixty (60) days after the Effective Date of this Agreement, copies of the policies and procedures newly developed pursuant to this Agreement, including the polices and procedures referenced at Paragraphs 27.a and 31.c, the log referenced at Paragraph 31.h, the grievance procedure referenced at Paragraph 31.i, and the feedback forms referenced at Paragraph 31.o. Upon receipt of the copies of the policies and procedures newly developed pursuant to this Agreement, OCR shall review such materials within thirty (30) days. The policies and procedures shall not be implemented without the approval of OCR;
    2. Within sixty (60) days after receiving OCR approval in accordance with Paragraph 36.a of this Agreement, a letter certifying that the training and distribution of materials described in Paragraphs 33 and 34 of this Agreement have been completed. The letter shall specify the date(s), time(s) and location(s) of training, person(s) conducting the training, the content of the training and names and titles of those participating in the training. The letter shall also specify the date(s), method(s) of distribution, and identities of DFS Staff to whom it distributes the materials required under Paragraph 33.b of this Agreement; and
    3. Within sixty (60) days after receiving OCR approval in accordance with Paragraph 36.a of this Agreement, a written report (“Compliance Report”) to OCR regarding the status of its compliance with this Agreement. The Compliance Report shall attach a copy of the log described in Paragraph 31.h of this Agreement and shall include data relevant to the Agreement, including but not limited to:
      1. the number of requests for qualified interpreters received by DFS from deaf or hard-of-hearing Clients and Companions;
      2. the number of times a qualified interpreter was provided by DFS;
      3. the number of times DFS denied a request for a qualified interpreter and the reason for the denial;
      4. the number of times DFS requested a qualified interpreter but the interpreter failed to show and, for each such situation, the reasons for the failure;
      5. in the case of a scheduled appointment, DFS shall report the date and time of the appointment and the date and time the interpreter arrived;
      6. in the absence of a scheduled appointment, DFS shall report the date and time a qualified interpreter was requested by a Client or Companion and the date and time the interpreter actually began interpreting for such Client or Companion;
      7. an explanation for the reasons for the delay in obtaining a qualified interpreter in those cases where: (A) in the case of a scheduled appointment, the time the interpreter arrives at DFS is more than one (1) hour later than the time of the scheduled appointment; or (B) in the absence of a scheduled appointment, the time the interpreter actually begins interpreting for a Client or Companion exceeds the time period permitted under Paragraph 31.f of this Agreement; and
      8. the number of complaints received by DFS by Clients and Companions regarding appropriate auxiliary aids and/or effective communication and a notation as to whether or not DFS considers the matter(s) resolved.

     

  37. For two successive six (6) month intervals (each, a “Reporting Period”) following DFS’ submission to OCR of the materials described in Paragraphs 36.b and 36.c of this Agreement, DFS agrees to provide OCR with the following materials within thirty (30) days after the end of each Reporting Period (i.e., within twelve (12) months following the Effective Date of this Agreement; and within eighteen (18) months following the Effective Date of this Agreement):

    1. A copy of any revisions made to any policies and procedures submitted to OCR pursuant to Paragraph 36 of this Agreement;
    2. A letter certifying whether any annual or new employee training or distribution of materials required under Paragraph 33 of this Agreement has been completed during the respective Reporting Period. The letter shall specify the date(s), time(s) and location(s) of training, person(s) conducting the training, the content of the training and names and titles of those participating in the training, and in the case of materials distributed in accordance with Paragraph 33.b of this Agreement, the date(s), method(s) of distribution, and identities of DFS Staff to whom it distributes such materials; and
    3. A Compliance Report, covering the respective Reporting Period.

     

    MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

  38. By the Effective Date of this Agreement, DFS shall have confirmed with the Complainant that she has been made aware that she has the option to recertify her food stamps benefits through the mail or via 711 relay service/TTY/TDD, but that if she prefers, she may continue to do her recertification interviews in person at DFS.

  39. Within sixty (60) days after the Effective Date of this Agreement, DFS shall conduct an assessment of the population in the DFS service area to determine the composition of the population of those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Such assessment may include, for example, contacting local/regional organizations representing the interests of these populations. In addition to providing demographic data (or leads to such data), such organizations may be helpful in identifying resources available in the service area and in contributing to the content of sensitivity training.

 

Signatures

The individuals signing this document represent that they are authorized to bind the undersigned entities to this Agreement.

/s/ Christopher Cunningham
Christopher Cunningham
Commissioner of Health & Family Services
Sullivan County Department of Family Services

02/05/08
Date

/s/ Michael R. Carter
Michael R. Carter
Regional Manager
Office for Civil Rights
Region II



Content created by Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
Content last reviewed on July 26, 2013