5.200 - Americans With Disabilities Act

Effective Date: 7/1/1996


The purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is to eliminate discrimination against millions of Americans with disabilities. The ADA is civil rights legislation for people with disabilities. It affects all services provided to the public by the City of Seattle.

To help the Department carry out the requirements of the ADA, we have a policy of reasonable accommodation for people with “disabilities” as this term is defined by law. People with disabilities cannot be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of services, programs, communications, or activities that we provide. This means that if an individual with a disability requests service, we may need to make special arrangements in order for them to participate in a program or receive the service in a way that is usable to them.

Depending on the type of program or service offered and the nature of an individual’s disability, a person with a disability may need special assistance. To ensure that we are operating in a non-discriminatory manner, employees with public contact shall be sensitive to the special needs of people with disabilities. This may include noticing people who appear to need help, asking them if they need any special assistance, and trying to provide the assistance requested to ensure that the person with a disability receives service that is equivalent to that provided to others.

Many employees have dealt with people with disabilities on a regular basis. However, there may be an increase in requests for services since the ADA has become effective and people with disabilities become more informed of their rights under ADA.

I. General Information

A. Deafness

1. If a person who is deaf needs a sign language interpreter, refer to the the policy section on Interpreters/Translators. If you need to contact a deaf person by telephone and do not have access to a TDD, dial 711 to be connected to a relay operator (washingtonrelay.com contracts with the Washington State Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to provide telephone relay service).

B. Visual Impairments

1. People with visual impairments may request information in large print. This is easily done using a copier that can enlarge a document, or if the material is done using a personal computer it can be printed with a larger font size.

2. If information is requested in Braille, arrangements can be made through the Library of the Blind and Physically Handicapped. This requires at least one week notice.

a. Employees may also volunteer to read the information to the person with the visual impairment.

C. Special Communication Needs

1. Developmental disability is a broad term that includes many different disabilities which occur at birth or before reaching adult age. Examples are: cerebral palsy, mental retardation, spina bifida, autism, epilepsy, and other conditions.

2. Some persons with developmental disabilities may have special communication needs, while others may not.

a. Some individuals have limited reading and comprehension skills and may not realize that they can ask for assistance.

b. Some individuals have limited verbal skills and are difficult to understand or may sound as if they are intoxicated when they speak.

c. Others may be non verbal and use communication boards or electronic equipment to communicate.

3. Employees may be able to offer assistance by assisting in the completion of forms, giving clear and concise instructions, and providing additional information in a step-by-step format.

II. Accommodations

A. The ADA’s impact on public meetings and public information materials

1. Employees who are responsible for scheduling public meetings, must ensure that the meetings are held in accessible locations.

2. Public meeting notices must include statements that accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made upon request.

B. Request information

1. The most critical aspect when interacting with persons with disabilities is to make no assumptions.

a. Ask what the person with the disability needs.

b. ADA specifically requires that assistance be offered on a case-by-case basis.

c. Persons with disabilities are as diversified as any other group and different people experience their disabilities in different ways.

d. A decision on how to assist a person with a disability must be based on the facts about that individual and not on generalizations about what a class of individuals with a disability can or cannot do.

C. If employees are unsure as to what type of accommodation to make or how to follow through with a request, they shall contact the Department’s ADA Representative in the Personnel Section. If employees require assistance during weekends or evenings, they shall contact the Communications Section for assistance in contacting the ADA Representative.