County of Marin
Disability Access Program
Accessibility Guidance Bulletin #5
Providing Auxiliary Aids and Services and Documents In Alternative Formats
One means of ensuring that County programs and services are accessible to everyone is to take the necessary steps to effectively communicate with all the County’s residents and visitors. For some persons with disabilities this means providing auxiliary aids and services, such as American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, Certified Real-Time Captioning (CART) or Assisted Listening Devices (ALD) and for some, it means providing information in alternative formats, such as Braille, Large Print, Computer Disk or Audiotape.
REQUIREMENT TO PROVIDE AUXILIARY AIDS AND SERVICES AND DOCUMENTS IN ALTERNATIVE FORMATS
Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, all public entities are required to ensure “equally effective communication” and to provide “auxiliary aids and services” to individuals with cognitive or sensory disabilities.
Auxiliary aids and services, in addition to those listed above, may also include making “PDF” files and other electronic documents, including e-mail and websites, accessible to blind persons and others who rely on audible computer screen readers.
Alternative formats of print materials are to be provided just as the County of Marin would provide any other modification of policies, practices or procedures, upon request by a qualified person with a disability. It is therefore advisable to have a variety of such materials on hand and readily available in situations where persons with a disability may have a particular interest or at meetings where persons with disabilities would be likely to attend.
REQUIREMENT TO PROVIDE THE FORMAT REQUESTED
The County of Marin, like all public entities, must give “primary consideration” to the specific aid or service requested. For example, if information in Braille is requested, the County should try to provide the information in Braille. The only circumstances under which the County may choose not to provide the aid or service requested is if the agency can demonstrate that another “equally effective means of providing access” is available, or that use of the means requested would result in undue financial or administrative burden.
PROVIDING ALTERNATIVE FORMATS IS GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE
If someone requests a particular alternative format, you may offer other alternatives. For example, if someone requests information in Braille, you may mention that you can also provide it on computer disk which may be read by an audible screen reader. The individual may opt for the computer disk, not knowing that was an option, or may confirm the request for Braille. The person may not have a computer, or may simply prefer to have a “hard copy” of the information.
NOTIFICATION OF AVAILABILITY OF ALTERNATIVE FORMATS
Print materials (such as meeting notices, agendas, reports, departmental brochures) should contain a statement that advises people that alternative formats are available upon request for people with disabilities.
To facilitate accessibility, use a simple, uncluttered page design for written meeting announcements. It is recommended that the font be clear and simple, such as 12 to 14 point Ariel or Courier, and that text be in a contrasting color to the paper to increase legibility for readers with low vision. Be aware that some software programs may not allow people using assistive devices, such as screen readers, to read a document. Be prepared to design forms that can be made accessible, or post or have available a Word version of the agenda, if needed for an accommodation.
To ensure that individuals with disabilities can participate in public meetings, a notice with information regarding who to contact to request auxiliary aids and services (American Sign Language interpreters, assistive listening devices, readers, note takers, real-time captioning) or meeting materials in alternative formats (Braille, large print, audiotape or computer disk/CD) must be included on all meeting notices.
The following notice format is recommended:
Standard Service Footer for Public Meetings
All public meetings and events sponsored or conducted by the County of Marin are held in accessible sites. Requests for accommodations may be made by calling (telephone number) (Voice), (TTY number) (TTY) or by e-mail at (email address) at least five business days in advance of the event. Copies of documents are available in alternative formats, upon request.
Standard Service Footer for Large Publications
All County publications are available in alternative formats (Braille, Large Print, or CD), upon request. Requests for accommodations may be made by calling (telephone number) (Voice), (TTY number) (TTY) or by e-mail at (email address).
Standard Service Footer for Smaller Publications
(Fliers, brochures, etc.), including both electronic and hard copy.
Requests for accommodations may be made by calling (telephone number) (Voice), (TTY number) (TDD/TTY) or by e-mail at (email address). Copies of documents are available in alternative formats, upon request.
Always include the name and telephone number of the contact person and timelines for requesting accommodations needed, as well as, the 711 California Relay Service number or a TTY number that can be used by individuals with hearing or speech impairments.
CENTRALIZED COUNTY PUBLIC MEETING & EVENT ASSISTANCE
The Disability Access Program is now able to assist individual departments and programs in securing auxiliary aids and services for your public meetings. As you know, all announcements of county sponsored public meetings require inclusion of a statement offering to provide accommodations upon request. If you chose, you may now put the dedicated telephone number and dedicated e-mail address below as the point of contact for such requests and Disability Access Program staff will assist in coordinating provision of needed accommodations. These could include American Sign Language interpreters, readers, note takers, assistive listening devices and other auxiliary aids and services. Please be sure to conduct all meetings at accessible sites. A list of accessible sites is available from the Disability Access Program.
If you use this service, you must be sure to send a copy of your meeting notice to the Disability Access Program e-mail address.
Disability Access Program
(415) 473-4381 (voice)
(415) 473-3232 (TTY)
PUBLIC HEARINGS WITH PRINT INFORMATION
If you will be providing print materials at a public hearing, be sure to include the statement above regarding availability of alternative formats on the public hearing notice and agenda. If it is an event that is likely to be of particular interest to the disability community, meeting planners should plan to have large print and computer disk versions of meeting materials available at the meeting.
Symbols can be used to indicate availability of alternative formats
You are encouraged to place these symbols next to the relevant information in your publications such as program brochures, application forms, event flyers, public meeting or hearing notices, etc. Symbols should be at least 18 point.
Here are symbols that denote alternative format access:
Large print version available Brailed version available
Positive and negative tiff files of this and other disability access symbols are available for copying or downloading at the following website: http://www.gag.org/resources/das.php
HOW TO PROVIDE ALTERNATIVE FORMATS
The requested alternative format should be provided in a timely fashion. Depending on the format requested, it may take a few minutes, a day, a week, or more to provide the alternative format. Making a large print version or putting the document on a CD/DVD may be easily and quickly accomplished. Providing a Braille version of information may take up to a week or longer, depending upon the length and complexity of the document. When providing alternative formats, descriptive information about graphics should be included in a “text only” version of the document.
Since Marin County does not have Brailing services internally, you must use an outside vendor. Because of this, it will take more time to provide Braille versions of documents. If the document is fairly short and straightforward, you can get a document Brailed within a few days. If the document is longer and/or complex, you will need to confirm delivery date with the vendor. If the information is already a Word, WordPerfect, or text file document, you can simply e-mail the document to the Braille vendor. If it is in PageMaker or other “publisher” software, you will need to convert it to an acceptable type of file prior to sending it to the vendor. If it is some other type of document, contact the vendor to see what you will need to provide for them to do the Brailing.
This is one of the easier alternative formats to provide if the document was produced by one of the common word processing programs (e.g., Word or WordPerfect). When someone requests a document in large print, remember to ask if there is a preferred font style and/or font size because individual needs vary. One person may request the document in Univers 14-point font, while another may request Arial 18-point bold font. As a default, use Arial font. After changing the font, you may need to do some reformatting; sometimes making a large print version “throws off” a document, just as changing margins can.
If the document is produced in PDF format or by publishing software such as PageMaker, it may take more time, as conversion to a more easily manipulated document may be required.
Computer Disk or E-mail
This is a relatively easily accomplished alternative format, particularly if the document was produced by one of the common word processing programs (e.g., Word or WordPerfect). If the individual does not request the document to be a certain type of file, remember to ask. You want to be sure the type of document you have is compatible with the individual’s software. Keep in mind that headers and footers as well as materials in PDF format are often not readable by audible screen readers. Sometimes, simply saving a copy of the original document onto a disk will fulfill the individual’s request. For additional information about converting word processing or PDF documents to screen-readable text documents, please contact Christine Camilleri, Senior Systems Support Analyst at Marin County IST – (415) 499-7152.
Please be reminded that when providing Auxiliary Aids or Services, Alternative Formats, or any other accommodations to make a County program, service, or activity accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities, the County may not charge the individual requiring the accommodation(s).
For lists of resources see Disability Access Bulletin #4 – Planning Accessible Public Meetings.
For additional information, please contact:
County of Marin
Disability Access Program
Marin Civic Center, Room 304
San Rafael, CA 94913
(415) 473-4381 (Voice/CRS dial 711)
(415) 473-3799 FAX
Great thanks to the City and County of San Francisco, Mayor’s Office on Disability for providing text for this Guidance Bulletin.