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5-13-94 MAY 13 1994 DJ 202-PL-520

Robert Wilkinson Village Administrator Village of Canal Fulton 155 East Market Street P.O. Box 607 Canal Fulton, Ohio 44614-0607 Dear Mr. Wilkinson: This letter responds to your inquiry on behalf of the Village of Canal Fulton, Ohio. You requested an opinion from the Department of Justice regarding the Village's responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to entities that are subject to the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the responsibilities of the Village under the ADA. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a determination by the Department of Justice of the Village's rights or responsibilities under the ADA and does not constitute a binding determination by the Department of Justice. You have raised a number of questions regarding the use of the basement of the Village Hall for Village programs or activities. Under title II of the ADA, a State or local governmental entity must operate its programs and activities so that, when viewed in their entirety, such programs and activities are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. A public entity may not deny the benefits of its programs, activities, and services to individuals with disabilities because its facilities are inaccessible. This standard, known as "program accessibility," applies to all existing facilities of a public entity. Public entities,

however, are not necessarily required to make each of their existing facilities accessible.

cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, Blizard, Prieto, FOIA, Friedlander n:\udd\prieto\policy\localgov 01-03094

-2The concept of "program accessibility" is discussed in sections 35.149 and 35-150 of this Department's title II regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, and section II-5.000 of the title II Technical Assistance Manual (copies enclosed). As stated in section 35.150(a)(3) of the title II regulation, a title II entity is not required to take any actions that it can demonstrate would result in a fundamental alteration of its services, programs, or activities, or in undue financial and administrative burdens. If an action would result in such an alteration or such burdens, the public entity must take any other action that would not result in such an alteration or such burdens but would nevertheless ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the benefits and services of the program or activity. Public entities may achieve program accessibility by a number of methods. In many situations, providing access to facilities through structural methods, such as alteration of existing facilities and acquisition or construction of additional facilities, may be the most efficient method of providing program accessibility. The public entity may, however, pursue alternatives to structural changes in order to achieve program accessibility. Nonstructural methods may include the provision of services at alternate accessible sites. When choosing a method of providing program access, a public entity must give priority to the one that results in the most integrated setting appropriate to encourage interaction among all users, including individuals with disabilities.

As a general matter, it is preferable to locate offices serving the public, such as a police department, in an accessible location. Where such space is not available, or where relocation or structural modifications to the site would pose undue financial and administration burdens, individuals who are unable to climb stairs may be served in an alternative accessible location. However, care should be taken to ensure that an equivalent level of service is provided. To the extent that the Village Hall basement space (or any other existing space owned or operated by the village) is used by employees of the police and other departments, such use is governed by the employment provisions of title II, which adopt the employment standards promulgated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in its title I regulation. Under title I standards, an employer is not required to make all work areas accessible. Instead the requirement is for "reasonable accommodation" of qualified individuals with disabilities, which is decided on a case-by-case basis. One example of such a reasonable accommodation could be the restructuring of a job by reallocating or redistributing marginal job functions; another example could be offering part-time or modified work schedules. For further discussion of this and other employment issues, we

01-03095 -3suggest that you contact the EEOC and request a copy of their title I Technical Assistance Manual. The EEOC can be reached at 1-800-663-EEOC (Voice) or 1-800-800-3302 (TDD). I hope this information is helpful to you. Sincerely,

Janet L. Blizard Supervisory Attorney

Enclosures

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