U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Office of the Assistant Attorney General Washington, D.C.

20035

NOV 20 1997 The Honorable Tom Harkin United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510-1502 Dear Senator Harkin: I am responding to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, Mr. XXX of XXX Iowa, who inquires about programs and advice for persons who are color blind. Mr. XXX mentions that in XXX he was rejected for military service due to color blindness. He implicitly seeks information about color blindness as it relates to Federal antidiscrimination statutes such as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Please excuse our delay in responding. Two prominent sources of information at the national level on eye disorders or pathology and degenerative eye disease are: National Eye Institute National Institute of Health Department of Health and Human Services Building 31, Room A03 Bethesda, Maryland 20892 Telephone (301) 496-5248 The Foundation Fighting Blindness Executive Plaza One, Suite 800 11350 McCormick Road Hunt Valley, Maryland 21031-1014 Telephone 1 800 683-5555 (410) 771-9470 (Fax) Additional information about the issue of color blindness or sight impairment generally may be available through local service organizations. We have enclosed a list of resources in Iowa that may be able to answer specific questions that Mr. XXX may

have about discrimination against persons with color blindness. -2Congress and the courts have generally excepted the uniformed services from coverage by broad, cross-cutting Federal civil rights statutory provisions such as the ADA. Rather, nondiscrimination in the uniformed services is enforced through specific antidiscrimination policies established for and implemented by the Department of Defense and the chain of command. That physical conditions such as color blindness are disqualifying may be due no doubt to requirements related to combat-readiness. If Mr. XXX seeks to know why the military exempts persons with color blindness from the uniformed services, he might pose his questions to a local military recruiter or he may contact the Pentagon at the following office: Colonel William Walton Director Military E.O. Office OSD/FM&P-MEO (MMP) Room 3A256, Pentagon Washington, D.C. 20301-4000 The ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or 1973, as amended, a civil rights statute similar to the ADA, prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. They do not guarantee that persons with disabilities will be able to obtain all services that they need. Under the ADA, there is no specific method by which an individual is "classified" as disabled. Each determination with respect to coverage is made case-by-case. To initiate ADA coverage, it must be established that an individual has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, has a record of such an impairment or is regarded as having such an impairment. If Mr. XXX believes he has been discriminated against due to color blindness, the enclosed "Guide to Disability Rights Laws" and complaint forms should be helpful for filing his complaint and directing it to the proper Federal investigative agency. I hope this information will be helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,

Isabelle Katz Pinzler Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures