Postsecondary educational programs (community colleges, vocational training programs, and four-year universities), must ensure their programs, activities, and meetings are accessible to all visitors. This includes:
- Public speaking events advertised to the community
- Fine arts, theatre performances, career fairs, and other extracurricular activities
- Orientation sessions open to family members
- Open houses and recruitment events
- Football games and other sporting events
This mandate also applies to any activities co-sponsored or hosted with an outside organization on campus. Working cooperatively on effective and cost efficient event accessibility yields the best results.
The U.S. Department of Justice’s “Effective Communication” handout states, “The ADA requires that Title II entities (state and local governments) and Title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The law’s goal is to ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities.”
The ADA Title III was amended to extend the provision effective communication to companions who have disabilities. “The term ‘companion’ includes any family member, friend, or associate of a person seeking or receiving an entity’s goods or services who is an appropriate person with whom the entity should communicate,” according to the handout. The hosting entity is encouraged to consult with the person making the request to determine if an auxiliary aid is appropriate. The end goal is ensuring that the aid or service is effective and allows those attending the event equal opportunity to participate.
Most institutions have policies stating accommodation requests must be made in advance of an event. Even if a last-minute request is received, however, the event coordinator must make a good-faith effort to create an accessible event. Primary consideration should be given to the specific accommodation requested by the individual. Alternative accommodations may be considered in some situations. The person submitting the request should be included in the planning process to ensure appropriate access.
Policies regarding who arranges and pays for event accommodations vary. The disability services office handles the request and payments at some institutions. Individual departments or divisions may take on the responsibility at others. The deaf or hard of hearing student is never responsible for the cost of accommodations.
Common Auxiliary Aids:
Accommodations may vary depending on the person and event:
- Qualified sign language interpreters, live or through video remote interpreting (VRI)
- Speech-to-text captioning
- Closed caption decoders
- Open or closed captioning
- Telecommunications products including text telephones (TTYs), videophones, and captioned telephones
- Videotext displays
- Telephone amplifiers
- Assistive listening devices and systems
- Hearing aid compatible telephones
The best time to determine your institution’s funding policy and procedures for accommodation requests is before you receive a request. Choose a person or office that is responsible for coordinating accommodations for the event. Include an accessibility statement when advertising the event; it may provide instructions about how to request an accommodation and who to contact. Consider having visual media captioned. Captioning provides access to everyone, including new English speakers and those in noisy environments.