Technical Assistance

Technical assistance (TA) is guidance and information on understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it applies to a particular situation. The ADA requires federal agencies that enforce the law to provide technical assistance to all sections of the public.

Technical requirement

In the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, a technical requirement is a requirement about how something must be designed and built. Technical requirements are related to scoping requirements—scoping requirements describe “what” or “how many,” and technical requirements provide additional specific information—the “how.” Technical requirements are found in Chapters 3–10 in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

For example, the scoping in Section 213.3.1 of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design states: “Where toilet compartments are provided, at least one toilet compartment shall comply with 604.8.1.” This gives us the scoping requirement and refers us to the technical requirements in Chapter 6, specifically in Section 604.8.1. In this example, the technical requirements include the exact minimum width and depth of this space.

US Access Board

The US Access Board is a federal agency that plays a leading role in the creation of accessibility standards. The Access Board describes itself like this on its website:

The Access Board is an independent federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards. Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the Board is now a leading source of information on accessible design. …The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Twelve of its members are representatives from most of the federal departments. Thirteen others are members of the public appointed by the President, a majority of whom must have a disability.

US Department of Justice

The US Department of Justice, often abbreviated as DOJ, is responsible for issuing rules for Title II (state and local government) and Title III (businesses and nonprofit organizations that are open to the public) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The DOJ is also responsible for enforcing these rules, though the DOJ works on enforcement with several other federal agencies. For example, it works with the US Department of Education on education-related enforcement and the US Department of Transportation on transportation-related enforcement.

[ Read: How to File a Complaint ]

The DOJ has adopted the physical access requirements developed by the US Access Board. This made them enforceable under the ADA, and now they are known as the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Also, the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ has created a useful website,

US Department of Labor

The US Department of Labor (DOL) contains the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). ODEP funds the Job Accommodation Network (JAN), a service that offers free information about workplace accommodations.

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that enforces Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other employment-related anti-discrimination laws. On the EEOC Overview webpage, the EEOC describes itself as being responsible for:

Enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also illegal to discriminate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Most employers with at least 15 employees are covered by EEOC laws (20 employees in age discrimination cases). Most labor unions and employment agencies are also covered.

The laws apply to all types of work situations, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

The EEOC also publishes policy guidance on how to follow the ADA.

Undue burden

An undue burden is a requirement of Title II or Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that would cause a significant difficulty or expense if carried out. This means that a state or local government or its agencies, or a business or nonprofit organization covered by the ADA, does not have to provide an auxiliary aid or service, or a modification, if providing it would cause a significant administrative or financial difficulty. Undue burden is similar to undue hardship under Title I (employment).

When deciding whether something is an undue burden, you have to look at several factors. These factors include the overall cost involved in light of the entire organization and any parent organization, and the operation and nature of the organization. If an auxiliary aid or service is an undue burden, the organization must look for an effective alternative. For example, if a small, private museum cannot afford to provide a sign language interpreter for a museum tour on short notice, a written copy of the tour guide’s script might be an alternative.

Undue hardship

Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an undue hardship is an accommodation that would cause a significant difficulty to an employer. To determine whether an accommodation would cause an undue hardship, you have to consider the resources and circumstances of the particular employer in relation to the cost or difficulty of providing the specific accommodation.

Undue hardship is similar to undue burden under Title II (state and local government) and Title III (businesses and nonprofit organizations that are open to the public).

[ Read: About Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace ]

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