T. 8-10-94 AUG 30 1994 Mr. Robert C. Sweitzer R.C. Sweitzer Enterprises Inc.

840 Alexandria Park Fort Thomas, Kentucky 41075 Dear Mr. Sweitzer: This is in response to your letter to Attorney General Reno regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Your letter addresses two separate issues: the obligation of places of public accommodation to provide auxiliary aids to customers or clients who have vision impairments, and the clients' need for ADA education. With respect to the latter issue, you have requested the assistance of this Department in funding a non-profit association to provide ADA education and to certify "ADA inspectors." The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities that have rights or responsibilities under the Act. Pursuant to that authority, this letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a legal interpretation of the statute, and it is not binding on the Department. The Attorney General shares your concern that the ADA be effectively enforced and appreciates your desire to assist in such enforcement. As you noted in your letter, title III of the ADA, which covers private entities that own, operate, lease, or lease to places of public accommodation, may require covered entities to provide auxiliary aids and services if such aids and services are necessary to ensure the participation of individuals with disabilities, unless such aids and services would fundamentally alter the nature of the entities' programs or would result in an undue burden. 28 C.F.R. S 36.303. Auxiliary aids and services for people with vision impairments may include qualified readers, taped texts, audio recordings, or Brailled or large print materials. 28 C.F.R S 36.303(b)(2). Which auxiliary aid or service is appropriate will depend on the particular circumstances of each individual case. For

example, it will depend on the needs of the individual requesting cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, Blizard, Hill, FOIA, Friedlander n:\udd\hille\policylt\sweitzr2.ltr 01-03411 -2an auxiliary aid. It will also depend on the particular information being communicated. Short, simple information may be adequately conveyed by simply reading the information, while lengthy or complex information may need to be conveyed by means of audiotape or Braille. In determining what type of auxiliary aid is appropriate, a public accommodation should consult with individuals with disabilities. However, the ultimate decision as to which type of auxiliary aid or service to provide is up to the public accommodation, as long as the chosen method results in effective communication. The Attorney General also shares your concern that the public may not be sufficiently aware of the ADA's requirements. To ensure that the public has the opportunity to become educated about the ADA, the Attorney General has established a toll-free ADA information line at 800/514-0301 (voice), 800/514-0383 (TDD) and an ADA electronic bulletin board at 202/514-6193. In addition, the Department has published a Title III Technical Assistance Manual, an ADA Handbook, and an ADA Questions and Answers booklet. The Department has also awarded technical assistance grants to direct specialized information to target audiences. To address the concerns of people who need auxiliary aids, the Department has awarded a grant to the American Foundation for the Blind and Gallaudet University - National Center for Law and Deafness to provide technical assistance regarding effective communication with persons who have vision and/or hearing impairments. Under this grant, the two organizations established telephone information lines and produced several booklets and a videotape. Those materials can be obtained by contacting the National Center for Law and Deafness at 202/651-5373. Under another grant, the National Federation of the Blind undertook a project to assist covered entities to find methods to convert visual materials into formats that are accessible to people who are visually impaired. They also produced a booklet on effective

communication with people who have visual impairments. Your proposal to establish a privately trained and funded group of ADA inspectors is innovative, but not feasible. The ADA has established a two-tiered enforcement scheme under which the Department of Justice is authorized to enforce title III through investigations, compliance reviews, and lawsuits; and private individuals are independently authorized to file their own lawsuits. The ADA does not provide any mechanism for "certifying" that places of public accommodation are in compliance. Any purported certification by a private inspector would have no legal validity. 01-03412 -3While much remains to be done, the Department has made serious efforts to fulfill its goal of widespread understanding of, and full compliance with, the ADA. I hope this information is of assistance to you. Sincerely, John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section 01-03413