US Department of Education NIDRR Technical Assistance Program

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Chapter 8: Enforcement

Regulatory references: 28 CFR 36.501-36.508.

III-8.7000 Technical assistance.

The ADA recognizes the necessity of educating the public about its rights and responsibilities under the Act and requires the Department of Justice, in consultation with other agencies, to provide technical assistance to assist covered entities and individuals with disabilities in understanding their rights and responsibilities under the ADA.

The Federal Government's experience in implementing section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, has demonstrated that a publicized, readily available, comprehensive technical assistance program responsive to the problems and needs of its audience offers many advantages. Technical assistance that is designed to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities, covered entities, and the general public reduces misunderstandings regarding rights and responsibilities, facilitates voluntary compliance, and promotes the exchange of information and the development of more effective and less costly methods to address compliance issues. It also avoids an unnecessary reliance on enforcement and litigation to achieve compliance.

Technical assistance includes the provision of expert advice, and both general and specific information and assistance to individuals with disabilities, the general public, and entities covered by the ADA. The purposes of this technical assistance are two-fold: to inform the public (including individuals with rights protected under the Act) and covered entities about their rights and duties; and to provide information about cost-effective methods and procedures to achieve compliance.

The Department plans to provide technical assistance through publications, exhibits, videotapes and audiotapes, and public service announcements. It has developed a number of nontechnical publications, including this manual, explaining the requirements of the Act, and has established a Speakers Bureau to provide speakers for events such as conferences, workshops, and training programs. It is also operating a telephone information line to respond to inquiries and requests for publications and to provide advice to individuals about specific problems. The Department also engages in a variety of clearinghouse functions and operates an electronic bulletin board to distribute information.

The Department has awarded over $3,000,000 in technical assistance grants to 19 organizations to disseminate technical assistance to specific audiences. They include national associations of covered entities, such as restaurants, hotels and motels; and associations of individuals with disabilities representing individuals with speech, hearing, and vision impairments, mobility impairments, mental retardation, and epilepsy. Many of these organizations have also established telephone information lines to respond to inquiries and are producing publications and providing training directed to their specific audiences. The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (800-USA-ABLE [voice or TDD]), which was responsible for development of ADAAG, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (800-669-EEOC [voice]; 800-800-3302 [TDD]) have also established telephone information services. In addition, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research has established ten Regional Disability and Business Accommodation Centers to serve as regional resources for ADA information.

The agencies involved in providing ADA technical assistance are making, and will continue to make, a sustained effort to ensure that effective technical assistance is available to all covered entities. Nevertheless, covered entities retain responsibility for ensuring that their activities comply with the requirements of the Act, and a public accommodation or other private entity is not excused from compliance because of any failure to receive technical assistance.