County of Marin
Disability Access Program
Accessibility Guidance Bulletin #1b
Program Access Policy, Principles and Procedures
This Guidance Bulletin states the County of Marin’s commitment to inclusion and full participation in community life for people with disabilities and provides some general principles of non-discrimination. It also discusses many of the procedures the County has implemented to ensure Program Access and physical accessibility.
The County of Marin is committed to making all County services, programs and activities available to persons with disabilities as required by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended. Because the County of Marin receives federal funds, the County also complies with the civil rights provisions of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended. The ADA supersedes both state and local laws that provide less protection for individuals with disabilities, but does not invalidate or limit the remedies, rights and procedures of other federal, state or local laws that guarantee greater protection for individuals with disabilities.
Title II of the ADA and the Department of Justice regulations (28 C.F.R. §35.130(a)) provide that:
No qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or be denied the benefits of the services, programs or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any such entity.
Everything the County does, from providing social services to sponsoring cultural events, is required by Title II of the ADA to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. The County completed an update of its Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan in 2008 that identified both programmatic and physical barriers to achieving program access. The County is taking affirmative steps to eliminate barriers in the pedestrian right-of-way; in owned and leased buildings and facilities; in parks and open spaces; in public communications; and in all its programs and service delivery processes.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF NONDISCRIMINATION
There are several principles of nondiscrimination under the ADA that the County of Marin endorses. These are:
- Equal opportunity, not merely equal treatment – The County provides an equal opportunity for qualified individuals with disabilities to participate in programs, services and activities. The County ensures that all services or benefits provided to people with disabilities are equally effective in achieving the intended results of the program or activity. Different or separate treatment is permitted only when it is necessary to ensure equal opportunity and the provision of truly effective benefits and services.
- Accessible site selection – The County, in determining the site for new construction or choosing an existing facility to be used by the County program or service, ensures that it makes selections that do not have the effect of discriminating against individuals with disabilities.
- No discriminatory effects – The County does not, directly or through contractual arrangements, use any criteria or methods of administration that have the effect of discriminating on the basis of disability or that perpetuate the discriminatory actions of another public agency, if both are subject to common administrative control or are agencies in the same state.
- Accessible licensing requirements – The County prohibits any form of discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities when granting licenses or certifications. A person is qualified if he or she can meet the essential eligibility requirements for receiving the license or certificate.
- Reasonable modifications – The County makes any reasonable modifications in policies, procedures and practices necessary to avoid discrimination based on disability. The County does not, however, make modifications that would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program or activity.
- Neutral eligibility criteria – The County does not impose or apply any eligibility criteria that screens out or tends to screen out individuals with disabilities or a class of individuals with disabilities, unless it can show that the criteria are necessary to provide the service, program or activity in question. The County also does not award any procurement contracts based on criteria that subject individuals with disabilities to discrimination.
- Most integrated setting appropriate – The County strives to provide its services, programs and activities in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of the individual with disabilities. Even though the County may offer separate programs that comply with Title II, it does not preclude individuals with disabilities from participating in integrated programs and activities solely because the separate programs are available.
Other provisions prohibit public entities from:
- Requiring a person with a disability to accept an accommodation or auxiliary aid or service;
- charging individuals with disabilities for the costs of providing auxiliary aids and services; and
- Discriminating against qualified individuals solely because they are related to or associated with a person with a disability.
WHAT COUNTY PROCEDURES ENSURE PROGRAM ACCESS?
The County ensures program access by having formal procedures to create access in all public communications and when announcing and conducting public meetings. The County also has specific plans regarding meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities in its emergency preparedness and disaster planning processes. The County of Marin is also committed to continuously improving the accessibility of the pedestrian right-of-way and access to all county-owned and leased buildings and facilities.
Notice requirements for County offices, publications and web sites
The County informs applicants, participants, beneficiaries and other interested parties of the rights and protections afforded by the ADA. The County achieves this in several ways, such as:
- Displaying legally required ADA Posters in reception areas, service centers and other public places;
- Describing the availability of accommodations and program modifications on its websites;
- Including contact information to request accommodations on all public meeting and public event announcements and advertisements; and
- Including information about program accessibility on all handbooks, pamphlets and manuals for the public that describe County programs, services and activities, including activities sponsored by the County.
Posters for reception areas and other public service areas are available from the Disability Access Program office. The following standardized notices are required to be included in the front section of all county produced publications:
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.
Ensuring Accessibility in County Communications
The County of Marin expects all its communications with residents and visitors to the County to be accessible to people with disabilities. The requirements of the Department of Justice ADA Title II regulations cover communications with program participants and members of the public.
How the County ensures accessibility depends on the nature of the communication itself. For an individual who is hearing-impaired, a clerk in a County office may be able to do a simple business transaction with pen and paper. A more complex matter may require a sign language interpreter. The County will adapt auxiliary aids and services to the situation.
Telephone companies are required by Title IV of the ADA to provide telephone relay services. The California Relay Service (CRS dial 711) alleviates some communication barriers to public services for people with speech and hearing impairments, but in some circumstances, the County may also provide assistive devices such as teletypewriters (TTYs) to meet their communication obligations. Emergency 911 telephone services always are equipped with TTYs.
While the County ensures accessible communications for individuals with disabilities, they do not fundamentally alter their programs or services, or create an undue financial or administrative burden when doing so.
The County provides “appropriate auxiliary aids and services” to ensure that individuals with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in and to enjoy the benefits of any service, program or activity the County provides. The County does not charge extra for providing auxiliary aids or services. A partial list of auxiliary aids and services that can be provided to accommodate speech, hearing and vision impairments includes: videotext displays, qualified sign language interpreters, telephone handset amplifiers, closed caption decoders, qualified readers, taped texts, large print materials and Braille text. The aid must fit the person and his or her needs. When assessing the accessibility of its communications, the County includes the individual making the request for accommodation in an interactive discussion of options and alternatives.
Ensuring Information Technology and Website Accessibility
County electronic devices and information technology are readily usable by people with disabilities. The County of Marin may provide accessible technology as reasonable accommodations to make programs accessible or to ensure effective communications. This technology may include, but is not limited to: TTYs, accessible computers, accessible web sites, and, when needed as auxiliary aids or in other circumstances, captioning.
Ensuring Public Event and Public Meeting Accessibility
The opportunity to participate in government, including participation in public meetings and events, is a fundamental right of citizens of the United States. Both state and federal laws guarantee this right. The ADA requires that an individual with a disability not be denied the opportunity to participate in any government program, service or activity because a government entity’s facilities are inaccessible. The Brown Act, as amended by AB 3035, specifically requires that a public entity ensure that individuals with disabilities are not denied physical or communication access to public meetings.
When planning public meetings, County agencies ensure that the meetings are accessible to members of the public who have a disability. Accessible public meetings require not only physical access to the meeting facility, but also access to the information communicated through the meeting. County employees are provided with guidance to identify the primary areas of concern related to public meetings, the responsibilities of the meeting planner, and alternatives for providing solutions.
All public meetings take place in locations that are accessible to persons with disabilities. All parts of the building do not need to be accessible, but parking (if provided), the path of travel into and through the facility, the meeting area, and the restrooms must be accessible. If overnight stays are involved, conveniently located accessible accommodations are also considered.
To facilitate accessibility, a simple, uncluttered page design is used for written meeting announcements. Staff are 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. The name and telephone number of the contact person and timelines for requesting accommodations needed are included on all County meeting announcements.
Written materials that are distributed to members of the public, such as an agenda or hand-outs, are subject to the requirement that communication be equally effective to persons with disabilities. Therefore, upon receipt of a specific request, the County will make that information available to individuals in a form that is usable by them. Alternative formats may include computer diskette, audiotape, large print or Braille. The type of format necessary to ensure effective communication will vary with the individual’s needs and the length and complexity of the communication involved.
The County provides an opportunity for individuals with disabilities to request the alternative format of their choice. An interactive discussion with the individual is encouraged when clarification regarding the type of alternative format to be provided is needed. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the expressed choice of the individual must be given primary consideration unless the County can demonstrate that another effective means of communication exists.
Although providing documents in alternative formats may result in some additional cost, the County does not place a surcharge on individuals with disabilities to cover these expenses. If a document is available to the public free of charge, it is also made available in an alternative format free of charge. If a fee is charged for documents provided to the general public, this fee is the same for documents provided in alternative formats.
Upon receipt of a specific request, it may be necessary to provide auxiliary aids and services to individuals with disabilities to allow full participation in a public meeting. These may include, but are not limited to: qualified sign language interpreters, providing materials in recorded format (cassette tapes or stored on CD-ROM), real-time transcription, assistive listening devices, or open or closed captioning.
The County seeks to conduct all public meetings in close proximity to accessible public transportation and to ensure a safe and accessible path of travel leading from the transportation stop to the facility entrance. If parking is provided, the parking area must have the correct number of appropriately marked accessible parking spaces. At least one set of restrooms within the facility must be accessible. Meeting rooms and break-out rooms must be arranged with consideration for the full participation of persons with disabilities. All public meeting space is wheelchair accessible, with integrated wheelchair seating, turning room, and adequate aisle space. There must also be an emergency evacuation plan for individuals with disabilities
The Disability Access Program also offers a centralized Disability Accommodations Service for coordinating provision of auxiliary aids and services for County Department sponsored public meetings and events. For assistance in using this service contact: email@example.com or call 415/473-4381.
Ensuring Equal Opportunities in County Employment
Title I of the ADA prohibits the County from discriminating against qualified individuals with disabilities in their employment practices. The Justice Department’s regulations implementing Title I make it clear that this prohibition applies to all state and local governments, regardless of size or whether they receive federal financial assistance.
The ADA covers all employment activities, including:
- job applications and recruitment;
- hiring and discharge;
- compensation and benefits;
- job assignment;
- performance management;
- leave policies;
- job training; social and recreational activities; and
- other terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
The County of Marin does not discriminate on the basis of disability in its employment practices. For assistance in employment related matters contact:
Marin County Department of Human Resources
3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 403
San Rafael, CA 94903
CRS dial 711
Ensuring Accessibility in Emergency Planning and Emergency Services
The County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) mitigates, plans, and prepares for, responds to, and aids in recovery from the effects of emergencies that threaten lives, property and the environment. OES has a role in both preparedness and response. Its role in emergency preparedness is to ensure efficient, effective, integrated response to potential and/or actual emergencies and disasters by implementation of the Standard Emergency Management System and the development of response capabilities. The role of OES in response is to provide timely, effective, efficient and coordinated government response in coordination with all local city and county government entities.
In order to effectively meet the needs of persons with disabilities during a disaster, the County Sheriff’s Office, County Fire Department, Department of Health and Human Services and the County Department of Public Works have established policies and procedures and offer staff training opportunities to ensure that first responders and other emergency response workers are able to effectively serve persons with various types of disabilities. The Department of Human Resources is responsible for overseeing ADA Title I Compliance (and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act employment provisions) for all County employment and employee issues.
Public Works Project Requirements and Protocols
The County Department of Public Works requires that, at the outset of all projects other than routine road maintenance, an analysis shall be performed to ensure
inclusion of all necessary, appropriate and reasonable multi-modal facilities and improvements. This requirement includes a comprehensive analysis of disability
accessibility issues in all project plans, construction drawings, and construction activities throughout the life of the project. Project specifications must include
individual and specific sheets which clearly depict interim conditions during construction which ensure full compliance with regulations relating to pedestrian
circulation and disability access during construction. This Department of Public Works policy (Directive 2006-01) applies to all Department divisions, including the Capital Improvement, Engineering Services, Land Development, Real Estate Services, Traffic Operations, Building and Road Maintenance, and Flood and Watershed Divisions; and to the Non-motorized Transportation and Bicycle/Pedestrian Programs.
Ensuring Pedestrian Right-of-Way Accessibility
In every instance where the County constructs a new sidewalk, accessible curb ramps are installed and barriers to entry from a street level pedestrian walkway and/or the pedestrian path of travel to County services are removed. Whenever the County reconstructs an existing pedestrian path-of-travel accessible curb ramps are installed and a safe and accessible path of travel is created.
In addition, the County maintains a Pedestrian Right-of-Way and Curb Ramp Plan that specifies the priorities for curb ramp construction and pedestrian barrier removal based on its Transition Plan and the standards set by the United States Access Board.
The priority categories used are as follows:
- The Public-Right-of-Way (PROW) adjacent to County programs that provide health and human services (example: the Marin Health & Wellness Campus and 120 N. Redwood).
- The PROW adjacent to general government programs and services (example: the Civic Center Campus, Sheriff Stations and sub-stations).
The PROW adjacent to County cultural and recreational facilities (example: the Marin Center, County libraries and County park facilities).
- The PROW adjacent to schools and commercial areas (example: County maintained roads adjacent to the College of Marin, Sir Francis Drake High School and the Bon Air and Strawberry Shopping Centers).
- The PROW in residential areas in unincorporated County areas (example: Bel Marin Keys and Loma Linda).
Please Note: Wherever County jurisdiction allows, the County will establish a safe and accessible path of travel from the nearest public transportation to the entrance of a County facility. When the public right-of-way adjacent to a County program or service, the Disability Access Manager assesses the need for accessibility modifications and, if needed, requests that the appropriate jurisdiction elevate this work in its Transition Plan. It should also be noted that the responsibility for maintenance of sidewalks in the County PROW rests with the adjacent property owner.
Ensuring County Owned and Leased Building and Facility Accessibility
In every instance where the County builds a new facility; remodels an existing building; negotiates a new lease; or extends or expands a lease, the County conducts a multi-modal review as described above, including an accessibility survey. The County also includes specific accessibility details in plans and construction drawings and monitors construction sites to ensure that accessibility requirements are adhered to throughout the construction. A determination of compliance with all applicable accessibility requirements is made by the County Disability Access Program Manager and County Director of Public Works prior to permitting building occupancy.
The County maintains a Facilities Accessibility Plan that specifies the priorities for building and facility accessibility construction based on standards set by the United States Access Board. The priority categories used are as follows:
- Buildings housing County programs that provide health and human services (example: the County Health & Wellness Campus, 120 N. Redwood, and 899 Northgate).
- Buildings housing general government programs and services (example: the Civic Center Campus, Sheriff Stations and sub-stations, 65 Mitchell).
- Buildings housing County cultural and recreational facilities (example: the Marin Center, County libraries, and County park facilities).
The County has completed accessibility surveys of all County owned and leased buildings and facilities; County parks and trailheads; and the pedestrian right-of-way throughout the unincorporated areas of the County.
Ensuring Accessibility in Public Accommodations
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees people with disabilities the “full and equal enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodation.” Public accommodations are private entities open to the public, including facilities as varied as entertainment and education, service establishments such as restaurants, hotels, professional offices, hospitals and sporting venues. The law and the Department of Justice regulations specify the scope and meaning of these terms and clarify that this section has a wide impact.
California laws and regulations require that all newly constructed buildings and facilities and most buildings and facilities undergoing repair and renovation are accessible to individuals with disabilities. The County’s Community Development Agency – Building and Safety Division enforces State and County building codes and ordinances to ensure buildings are accessible and safe for occupancy. The County does not check plans for, or enforce federal ADA accessibility requirements. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure compliance with these regulations.
Code enforcement is accomplished through issuance of building permits, plan reviews, and inspections. In the planning, permit and inspection phases of this process building officials review plans and inspect construction sites to ensure compliance with the requirements of Title 24 of the California Building Code of Regulations relating to accessibility for the disabled.
If the applicant wishes to apply for an unreasonable hardship, plans must be prepared in accordance with the instructions contained in the County of Marin’s “GUIDELINES FOR REQUESTING EXCEPTIONS TO TITLE 24 ACCESS REGULATIONS” available from the Building and Safety Division. The Division has a responsibility to investigate and resolve disability access complaints within 90 days of confirmation that a complaint is valid under Government Code Section 4452. The County disability access complaint policy and procedure are available from the County ADA Coordinator in the Disability Access Program or from the County’s Chief Building Official in the Community Development Agency – Building and Safety Division.
ADA Coordinator and Grievance Procedures
The Title II regulations require the County to designate at least one ADA Coordinator to be responsible for organizing all efforts to comply with Title II, investigate any complaints of violations and serve as the contact person for both the public and other members of the County’s staff on all ADA matters.
The ADA Coordinator for the County of Marin is:
William Campagna, M.S.
Disability Access Manager
3501 Civic Center Drive, Room 304
San Rafael, Ca 94903
(415) 473-6065 (voice/CRS dial 711)
The Disability Access Program website is located at:
The instructions for filing grievances and the Grievance Form are located at the Disability Access Program website and in the program office listed above. In addition, the Community Development Agency – Building and Safety Division has a formal grievance procedure specifically for addressing issues concerning public accommodations and building permit issues.
Department Disability Access Coordinators
Most County departments also have Disability Access Coordinators to assist in resolving issues within their respective department’s programs. Contact information for these individuals is available from the Disability Access Program or from the departments themselves. All formal complaints must be submitted to the ADA Coordinator.