County of Marin
Disability Access Program
Accessibility Guidance Bulletin #5b
Providing Public Information In Alternative Formats
The County of Marin is committed to ensuring the opportunity for full participation for people with disabilities in all county programs, services, and activities. A critical component in achieving program access is the provision of County publications in accessible formats so that communication is equally effective to persons with disabilities. This applies to all County produced publications, whether distributed in hard copy or electronically (email or website), including, but not limited to: reports, newsletters, pamphlets and public meeting announcements.
The County is required to include a formal notice on all County produced publications advising the public how to request the information included in alternative formats. Alternative formats may include computer disk, audiotape, large print or Braille.
In addition to providing a notice on formal County publications, less formal written materials that are distributed to members of the public, such as an agenda or meeting hand-outs, are also subject to the requirement that communication be equally effective to persons with disabilities. Therefore, all meeting announcements must provide contact information for requesting meeting materials in alternative formats prior to the scheduled meeting.
The font of notices must be clear and simple, such as 12 to 14 point Arial or Courier, and the text of all documents and notices should be in a contrasting color to the paper to increase legibility for readers with low vision. On smaller documents, such as tri-fold brochures or card sized flyers, please be sure that the accessibility notice font is no smaller than the other printed information. For documents with multiple pages, such as newsletters and handbooks, the notice should be printed within the first few pages of the document where it can be readily found.
Recommended language for notices is provided below.
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.
Please note that while their use is recommended, the accessibility images provided in the language templates of this document may be omitted when space constraints make their use extremely difficult.
Centralized Service for Accommodation Requests
The Disability Access Program is now able to assist individual departments and programs in securing auxiliary aids and services. If you chose, you may now put the dedicated telephone number and dedicated e-mail address as included in the Standard Notices above as the point of contact for such requests in lieu of your own contact information. When using the centralized service, Disability Access Program staff will assist in coordinating provision of needed accommodations. 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: email@example.com.
Disability Access Program
(415) 473-4381 (voice)
(415) 473-3232 (TTY)
Handling Requests for Alternative Formats
Any information provided to the public in written form must be provided to persons with disabilities in an alternative format upon request. 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 will provide 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. This discussion may result in identifying practical options for the County that are also suited to meet the requestor’s needs.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the expressed choice of the individual must be given primary consideration unless the public entity can demonstrate that another effective means of communication exists. If there is a disagreement, please consult with your Department Head or the Disability Access Program before denying any request.
Surcharges Not Permitted
Although providing documents in alternative formats may result in some additional cost, a public entity may not place a surcharge on individuals with disabilities to cover these expenses. If a document is available to the public free of charge, it must also be available in an alternative format free of charge. If a fee is charged to the general public, this fee must be the same for documents provided in alternative formats.
County documents that are posted on websites or distributed via electronic mail, whether provided in hardcopy of not, are still considered publications and must also contain a notice offering the information they include in alternative formats. Some software programs may not allow people using assistive devices, such as screen readers, to read a document (such as inaccessible PDF’s). Whenever possible, you should design documents that are accessible. If not possible, you should post or have available an accessible Word version of such documents. If you need assistance in designing or providing accessible alternatives consult your Information Technology (IT) staff.