MAR 17 1998 The Honorable Porter Goss Member, U.S. House of Representatives 2000 Main Street Suite 303 Ft.

Myers, Florida 33901 Dear Congressman Goss: I am responding to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, Ms. XXX , regarding the obligation of the Peace River Federated Republican Forum to provide real-time captioning for a person who wants to attend a program sponsored by that organization. Please excuse our delay in responding to you. Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) provides that no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in any place of public accommodation. The ADA defines 12 categories of places of public accommodation, including places serving food or drink, lecture halls, and other places of public gathering. Organizations that do not usually fall within one of the 12 categories may become subject to the ADA when they lease a place of public accommodation for the purpose of sponsoring an event. Therefore, Ms. XXX has been correctly advised that her organization is subject to the ADA when it is sponsoring a public gathering such as a luncheon program with a speaker. The ADA requires covered entities to ensure effective communication with program participants who have hearing impairments. This may require a covered entity to provide auxiliary aids for a person with a hearing impairment if it is necessary to ensure effective communication. Real-time captioning, i.e., having a reporter prepare a simultaneous transcription of a speech, is an auxiliary aid that is often effective, but other auxiliary aids may also be effective. cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, McDowney, Blizard, FOIA h:\cyoung\2goss-XXX .wpd\sc. Young-Parran -2The obligation to ensure effective communication is not

unlimited. A covered entity is not required to provide a requested auxiliary aid if the covered entity can demonstrate that providing that auxiliary aid would result in an undue financial or administrative burden, i.e., a significant difficulty or expense. In determining whether the provision of real-time captioning would result in an undue burden, Ms. XXX organization should consider not only the fees charged for the specific program, but also the overall financial resources of the organization. The sponsoring organization should also consider other factors that would minimize the degree of burden. If the organization determines that providing real-time captioning would result in an undue burden, then the organization may propose the use of an alternative auxiliary aid. In such circumstances, it is important for the covered entity to work with the person who requested the auxiliary aid to identify an alternative that will provide effective communication. The use of amplification devices or assistive listening systems are effective communication aids for some people, but they are not effective for everyone. I am enclosing copies of the Department's regulation implementing title III of the ADA and the Department's Title III Technical Assistance Manual. If Ms. XXX has further questions about the ADA, she may contact the Department of Justice's toll-free ADA information line (800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD)). Members of the Disability Rights Section staff are available to answer questions on the information line on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Eastern time. On Thursday, the information line is staffed from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. I hope this information will be helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely, Bill Lann Lee Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures