U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Coordination and Review Section P. O.

Box 66118 Washington, DC 20035-6118

Mr. Donald E. Keister President IRMA, Inc. 527 Chesapeake Avenue Baltimore, Maryland 21225 Dear Mr. Keister:

OCT 12 1993

This responds to your letter to President Clinton concerning small Business Administration (SBA) loans for individuals with disabilities. Your letter concerns a $150,000 "cap" on SBA loans under the Handicapped Assistance Loan Program and the exclusion of business owners with disabilities from Minority Business "set aside" programs. The SBA is not covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is, however, covered by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. S 794, which prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in programs and activities conducted by Federal Executive agencies. We have therefore referred your letter to the office of the SBA responsible for enforcing section 504. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. This response provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA's requirements. It does not, however, constitute a legal interpretation and is not binding on the Department. The exclusion of individuals with disabilities from the classes of individuals eligible for minority set aside programs would not necessarily constitute a violation of the ADA or section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, which applies to federally assisted as well as federally conducted programs and activities.

Title II of the ADA and the Department of Justice implementing regulation, 28 C.F.R. pt. 35 (copy enclosed), prohibit a public entity from discriminating on the basis of disability against a qualified individual with a disability in the benefits and services it provides. 28 C.F.R. S 35.130 (a). A "qualified individual with a disability" is one who meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or 01-02621​ -2participation in the program or activity provided by the public entity. The ADA does not limit the authority of a public entity to establish eligibility requirements that are unrelated to disability, so long as those requirements do not exclude qualified individuals with disabilities. The exclusion of individuals with disabilities from a "set aside" established for particular classes of individuals, such as racial, ethnic, or other minority groups, would not be discriminatory, unless individuals with disabilities who are also members of the particular classes covered by the set aside are excluded because of their disabilities. (Such an exclusion of an individual who is "qualified" because he or she meets the eligibility requirement of membership in a covered group could violate the ADA.) We understand your position to be that the failure to include business owners with disabilities is discriminatory because those business owners are "disadvantaged" by their disabilities in the same way as others are disadvantaged by their membership in the covered groups. This argument is premised on the assumption that, in establishing a preference for particular classes of "disadvantaged" business owners, the State is obligated to include all categories of business owners that are similarly "disadvantaged." The ADA does not establish such an obligation. It does not prohibit State and local governments from establishing eligibility criteria that target specific groups as intended beneficiaries, based on the goals and purpose of authorizing legislation, so long as the program does not exclude or discriminate against persons with disabilities because of their disability. Of course, if you seek to have the programs in question amended or revised to include the specific groups you represent as eligible for services or benefits, you should contact the

State agencies administering these programs and the appropriate legislative bodies that authorize them. I hope this information is helpful. Sincerely, Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division Enclosures 01-02622​ U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Washington, DC 20530 OCT 12 1993 Mr. J. Arnold Feldman Chief Office of Civil Rights and Compliance Small Business Administration 409 Third Street, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20416 Re: Correspondence of Mr. Donald E. Keister, Baltimore, Maryland Date Received by DOJ: August 22, 1993 DOJ Number: 204-35-0 DOJ Contact Person: Mr. Bruce Pruvis Dear Mr. Feldman: I am referring this correspondence to your agency for response because it concerns compliance with section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as it applies to programs and activities conducted by your agency. See 13 C.F.R. pt. 136. You

may also have section 504 jurisdiction with respect to the State agencies mentioned because your agency provides financial assistance to the subject of the correspondence. You should process the complaint according to the procedures established in S 136.170 of your regulation implementing section 504 for your federally conducted programs. 13 C.F.R. S 136.170. Please be aware, however, that a cap on loans under a special program limited to individuals with disabilities would not necessarily be a violation of section 504, so long as individuals with disabilities are not excluded from programs that are not subject to the cap. See 13 C.F.R. SS 136.130 (c); (h). Because we are responsible for coordinating enforcement of section 504, please send any final written disposition of the matter to us at the above address. In all correspondence, please

01-02623​ -2give the correspondent's name, the name of the alleged discriminating entity, and the DOJ number. Sincerely, Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division Enclosures

01-02624​IRMA 327 CHESAPEAKE AVENUE BALTIMORE, MARYLAND 21225 SALES & SERVICE & INSTALLATION MARYLAND'S MAINTENANCE OF TRAFFIC SPECIALISTS TOLL FREE 1-800-486-IRMA FAX (410) 354-4462 MBE# 92-055 July 10, 1993 President Bill Clinton White House 1600 N. W. Pennsylvania Avenue Washington, D. C. 20500 Dear Mr. President: Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Donald E. Keister, President of IRMA, Inc. located in Baltimore City Maryland and Certified as a Minority Business Enterprise by the Maryland Department of Transportation and many other Government agencies for both Federal and State projects. My certification was a result of the cold hard fact that I am a Disabled American and although I am entitled to receive Social Security Disability Benefits, it was my decision fifteen years ago to try to do what no one in my class had done before and that was to successfully run my own company and to employ others to help me to run my firm. I am proud to say that for fifteen years I have not had to draw one dime of Social Security Disability Benefits and that I am a self dependent tax paying handicapped person. Recently my firm received a loan from the Small Business Administration in the amount of $ 150,000.00 under the guidelines of the (HAL) Handicapped Assistance Loan Program, although my firm required and requested $ 500,000.00 for the

total implementation of our well designed business plan there was a $ 150,000.00 cap on this program to assist Handicapped Persons with their business and our business plan had to be down-sized. Yet other Minorities and Non-Minorities are allowed to borrow up to $ 750,000.00. I might also note that the local office was not aware of the HAL program as no loans had ever been made to a Handicapped business owner under this program. Inasmuch as my firm is a small business with just a little over $ 800,000.00 in gross receipts for 1992 and legal expenses of around eight percent of gross it is very hard to show a good profit. -101-02625​Why are my legal fee's so high you may ask? Well it's because I have had to fight for my rights as a Disabled American every step of the way. Finally when your predecessor signed the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 and upon my review of same I noticed that among other things it said that Disabled Americans are a discreet and insular class of Minorities who have faced discrimination, without the power to fight for their rights and who are to be accorded the same civil rights as those accorded the civil rights act of 1964. That the purpose of this act was to help Disabled Americans enter into the Mainstream of American Life, and so on. The bottom line is that The Maryland Department of Transportation and many other Government agencies has included my firm as owned and controlled by a Disabled American as a Minority Business Enterprise. As I understand it, they have in fact reviewed and determined the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 49 23.53 basically includes and protects my new class as a protected class under the general guidelines. Inasmuchas CFR 49 23.53 was (I think) written after the civil rights act of 1964 and has not been revised since then to include the words Disabled American or Handicapped Person or

to have someone in the Government issue an addendum to the code. I have found that each agency who receives Federal funds can decide if they want to protect my class. As a result of negative decisions I have had to employ an attorney to fight these remaining barriers at my cost in my attempts to clear the way so that other members in my class can secure the same dream that I feel that I have almost accomplished of being a well respected, self supporting, tax paying, instead of tax receiving Disabled American. I am proud to say that next month I am due to receive the "Know I care award" to be presented by the Police Commissioner of Baltimore City, Maryland and several years ago I received the "Baltimore's Best Award", at the same time I am also ashamed to say that the Baltimore City Government will not voluntary open it's eyes and recognize my firm as a Minority Business Enterprise as they cite their program to protect only Racial and Women Minorities. -2-

01-02626​Yet I can not find any evidence that the City of Baltimore has in the last twenty years discriminated against racial Minorities or Women, however; I can find that in the last twenty years that the City of Baltimore has in fact discriminated against Disabled Americans. It seems so unfair that they have or think they have the right to protect one class of people without protecting all of the classes of people within the same class and they know that just one person of a protected class, currently one like me can not afford (because of economic disadvantages) to bear the costs to force them to protect all of the classes. It is also a part of my dream and after my fight is over or perhaps even before that one day I be appointed to serve on one of our Governors committees for the encouragement of economic growth of and self sufficiency of Disabled Handicapped Americans. I do not mind telling you that I have written several letters

to you predecessor and that I have even paid an attorney to professionally write with regard to this matter and I have only received "form" letter replies and false promises to no avail. I some how feel that you are a real person and you will address this problem as a real problem and please remember that it was not long ago and sometimes even today that families of Disabled children put those family member's away or even dispose of them in horrible ways. Thank you for your consideration. Very truly yours,

Donald E. Keister, DA. President

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