Case name: Letter to: Niagara County Community College, No. 02‐16‐15 (OCR 04/07/16).Ruling: Niagara County Community College entered into a resolution agreement with the Office for Civil Rights to address accessibility issues in its library and other buildings.What it means: Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, programs and activities conducted in “existing facilities” must be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities, and “new construction” must be readily accessible to persons with disabilities.Summary: A complainant claimed that Niagara County Community College's Lewis Library was inaccessible to individuals with disabilities because the door of the accessible entrance and the interior door leading to the elevator were too heavy, and the elevator lacked accessible controls. Further, the complainant, who filed the complaint on behalf of a student at the college, stated that the Student Development Office and Testing Center, were inaccessible for the same reason.OCR determined that the library was an “existing facility” under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Under Section 504, programs and activities conducted in “existing facilities” must be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities.The agency found that the accessible entrance to, and interior entrance of, the library required five pounds of force to open, which is in line with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. It found the elevator to be inaccessible because a key that was to be retrieved from a hook in the lobby of the director's office was required to call the elevator to the first floor, and the key had to be inserted into an exterior control panel and twisted by 90 degrees. This was in violation of the ADA Standards because of the tight grasping and wrist twisting required. From the inside, the elevator controls were at a noncompliant height, and the key again had to be inserted and rotated by 90 degrees. As such, the second and third floors of the library were not accessible to individuals with disabilities, OCR found.The college informed the agency that the library would close for renovations in May 2016, and the tutoring and learning commons would be temporarily moved to the second floor of the G Building, which also was considered an “existing facility” under Section 504. OCR identified several compliance concerns with the two elevators leading to these areas, and stated that the college must have an alternate plan to ensure that each program and activity conducted in the area is readily accessible.With regard to the allegations of inaccessibility at the SDO and Testing Center, OCR determined these to be “new construction,” which must be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities. The SDO entrance required more force than allowed by federal regulations. However, the door to the Tutoring Center required five pounds of force, in keeping with accessibility standards.The college entered into a resolution agreement to address the issues identified by OCR.
Disability Compliance for Higher Education – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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