DJ 202-36-0 NOV 24 1992 The Honorable Charles H.

Crawford Commissioner The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Human Services Commission for the Blind 88 Kingston Street Boston, Massachusetts 02111-2227 Dear Commissioner Crawford: This letter responds to your inquiry regarding the content of certain materials reportedly produced by a grantee of the Department of Justice. You have not identified the grantee or the materials in question. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA's requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation or legal advice and it is not binding on the Department of Justice. Your letter expresses concern that certain technical assistance materials containing a summary of compliance steps for public entities do not discuss computer text files and descriptive video as additional means of providing effective means of communication to individuals with disabilities under the ADA. The ADA requires public entities to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services to ensure that communication with persons with disabilities is effective. The title II regulation lists several examples of such auxiliary aids and services. Although computer text files and descriptive video are not specifically cited as examples, the list is not in any sense intended to be exhaustive or all-inclusive. In fact, the portion of the regulation addressing auxiliary aids and services that may be required for persons with vision impairments is written cc: Records; Chrono; Wodatch; Foran; McDowney; FOIA; MAF. :udd:foran:crawford.policy

-2broadly to include "other effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals with visual impairments." 28 C.F.R. s 35.104. In explaining the limited nature of the list of examples included in the regulation, the Justice Department's interpretive commentary or "preamble" to the regulation states: A substantial number of commenters suggested that additional examples be added to this list. The Department has added several items to this list but wishes to clarify the list is not an all-inclusive or exhaustive catalogue of possible or available auxiliary aids or services. It is not possible to provide an exhaustive list, and such an attempt would omit new devices which will become available with emerging technology. 56 Fed. Reg. 35697. The preamble to the regulation also specifically discusses additional examples of aids and services for making visually delivered materials accessible to persons with visual impairments. As the preamble states, although these examples are not included in the regulation, they would nonetheless be considered auxiliary aids and services under the ADA. Many commenters proposed additional examples such as signage or mapping, audio description services, secondary auditory programs, telebraillers, and reading machines. While the Department declines to add these items to the list, they are auxiliary aids and services and may be appropriate depending on the circumstances. 56 Fed. Reg. 35697. For more information on auxiliary aid requirements see section 35.104 of the enclosed federal regulation at page 35717 and the additional discussion at page 35697 and pages 35711-35712. I hope this information is useful to you in understanding the requirements of the ADA.

Sincerely, John R. Dunne Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures (2)


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Human Services Commission for the Blind 88 Kingston Street, Boston, MA 02111-2227 WILLIAM F. WELD GOVERNOR ARGEO PAUL CELLUCCI LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR October 15, 1992 The Honorable William Pelham Barr Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice Tenth and Constitution Avenues N.W. Room 4400 Washington DC 20570 Dear Mr. Attorney General: I am writing to convey my concern after speaking with a person who operates with funding from the Department of Justice on a project to advise the public with respect to obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I had an opportunity to read a summary of compliance steps that public entities would have to execute under the ADA and was surprised and disappointed at the omission of important points relative to information access for blind and otherwise print handicapped person. DAVID P. FORSBERG SECRETARY CHARLES H. CRAWFORD COMMISSIONER

Rightfully, entities were advised that they would have to provide information in an "equally effective" fashion and consistent with the preferences of the person requesting the information. Correctly, they went on to point out that print materials could be made accessible through audio tapes, large print, and Braille. Unfortunately, they omitted the critical consideration of how print materials are generated and the advantages associated with proper attention to computer based text files as both a means of accommodating the information needs of computer literate persons who are print handicapped, and the ability of the text file to be easily printed in large print, sent to Braille printers or even output to high quality speech processors for audio tapes when such speech is acceptable to the user. Moreover, the computer file is amenable to word processing where the user is then able to use the source material much more effectively than the passive reading of it. In view of the thrust of the thrust of the current Administration along with the platforms of all major contenders for the Presidency endorsing increased automation, I am seriously concerned at the lack of mentioning text files as a prime method of information accessibility. ------------------------------------------

The Honorable William Pelham Barr October 15, 1992 Page 2 The above is only worsened by the representation made to me that the information had been reviewed by the Department of Justice in advance of my reading it. If this is so, then an immediate education process is in order at the Department to avoid similar instances. My other concern at the document was the rightful articulation of "closed captioning" as a viable means of information access for persons who are deaf and watching videos, but no mention at all of the same type "descriptive video" access for persons who cannot see what is happening on the screen. I realize the difficulties associated with attempting to

implement a major piece of legislation which contains many concepts not in the ordinary public discourse, however, misinformation cannot be tolerated if we are to achieve our common goal. If I can be of any further assistance in this regard, please contact me at the above address or call (617)-7275550 extension 4503 to speak with me. Sincerely, Charles H. Crawford Commissioner