Making Facilities & Programs Accessible for Persons with Disabilities
OCR enforces Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq., and Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, 42 U.S.C. 18116. Section 504 obligates recipients of federal financial assistance to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to their programs, services, activities, and facilities. Similarly, Title II obligates all state and local governments, including those that receive no federal financial assistance, to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to their programs, services, activities, and facilities. Section 1557 provides that an individual shall not be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination on the grounds prohibited under, among other laws, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 794, under any health program or activity, any part of which is receiving federal financial assistance, or under any program or activity that is administered by an Executive Agency or any entity established under Title I of the Affordable Care Act or its amendments.
- 45 C.F.R. Part 84: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Handicap in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance.
- 28 C.F.R. Part 35: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services.
ADA Guidance from the Department of Justice
Recent Compliance Activities
Glenshire Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre (GNRC) (IL) - OCR Region V resolved a discrimination complaint filed against GNRC on behalf of a morbidly obese individual who was denied admission to the facility. To resolve the complaint, GNRC agreed to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to its skilled nursing facility as required by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Specifically, GNRC agreed to: (1) amend its admission policy and provide an individualized assessment of all persons with disabilities who apply for admission to the skilled nursing facility; (2) provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and residents, when appropriate; (3) appoint a Section 504 grievance coordinator; and (4) admit the individual and accommodate her with a special, large-size dialysis chair.
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) and Anchorage Pioneer Home (APH) -After receiving an administrative complaint against APH, a licensed assisted living facility serving over 160 Alaska residents, OCR issued a January 16, 2009 Letter of Finding, concluding that DHSS had violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II of the ADA ), by declining to consider a legitimate request for a reasonable modification to its transportation policies to enable an APH resident with Alzheimer’s disease to use APH’s transportation services for medical appointments. Under the settlement, APH will consider individual requests for reasonable modifications to its transportation policies. If an APH resident, who is a qualified individual with a disability, is determined to need an escort to access and benefit from APH transportation services, APH will provide an escort at no cost. Read the Letter of Finding | Read the Settlement Agreement | Read the HHS Press Release
Schenectady County Department of Social Services (SCDSS), NY - OCR secured a signed Voluntary Resolution Agreement which resolves a disability discrimination complaint against SCDSS, a social services agency serving the 150,818 residents of Schenectady County, one of the fastest growing counties in upstate New York. The complainant, who has a mobility impairment and walks with a cane, reported that structural barriers make SCDSS's offices at 487 Nott Street and 104 Erie Boulevard inaccessible to individuals with physical disabilities; and that SCDSS had failed to designate an employee to coordinate its compliance efforts under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II of the ADA). After receiving the complaint, OCR's Region II New York office conducted a thorough investigation, including surveys of the SCDSS offices to identify architectural barriers. OCR and SCDSS established the following objectives under the agreement: (1) physical accessibility of SCDSS' new 797 Broadway office, which is currently being constructed to be a fully accessible office space free of architectural barriers; (2) structural modifications at SCDSS' existing 104 Erie Boulevard office to ensure the physical accessibility of its parking lot, entrance doors and public restroom; (3) the implementation of interim procedures to ensure program accessibility at SCDSS' existing 487 Nott Street office, including establishing a dedicated telephone line so that individuals with disabilities can be served, if possible, within 24 hours and posting outside signage with the telephone number and a statement that services are available at other locations; (4) a notice informing consumers of their rights and responsibilities under Section 504 and/or Title II of the ADA be developed and distributed; (5) establishment and publishing of procedures for consumers to file grievances alleging disability discrimination under Section 504 and/or Title II of the ADA; (6) the appointment of a senior SCDSS staff member to coordinate its compliance efforts under Section 504 and/or Title II of the ADA, train SCDSS employees on approaches to prevent and/or address disability discrimination, and respond timely to grievances filed by consumers alleging disability discrimination; and (7) the provision of regular compliance reports by SCDSS to OCR for the one year term of the agreement. Read the SCDSS Agreement Read the Press Release
Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) – In consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service, the OCR Region X Seattle Office investigated Complainants’ allegations that the DHS Multi-Service Center was inaccessible to persons with disabilities. To resolve the complaint, OCR secured voluntary corrective action from DHS, who: (1) modified the signage, parking lot, intake counter, literature racks and restrooms at its existing NE Ray Circle Drive Building; and (2) leased new facilities at Elam Young Parkway where the parking areas, doors, lobbies, client areas, drinking fountains, and restrooms are in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.