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AT A GLANCE
A review of this month’s OCR letters
The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights
investigates complaints under Title II of the ADA and
Section 504. These letters represent its ndings.
OCR rulings are summarized by Aileen Gelpi, Esq.
• Complainant alleges library, other vital areas were
inaccessible .............................. 10
• Schools aren’t required to provide unrequested
accommodations .......................... 10
• Dismissed veterinary student claims college failed to
accommodate ............................. 11
• Student claims university failed to provide practicum
accommodations .......................... 12
Complainant alleges library,
other vital areas were inaccessible
Case name: Letter to: Niagara County Commu-
nity College, No. 02-16-15 (OCR 04/07/16).
Ruling: Niagara County Community College en-
tered 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 Rehabil-
itation Act, programs and activities conducted in “ex-
isting facilities” must be readily accessible to individ-
uals 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 in-
accessible to individuals with disabilities because
the door of the accessible entrance and the inte-
rior 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 De-
velopment Ofﬁce and Testing Center, were inacces-
sible for the same reason.
OCR determined that the library was an “exist-
ing 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 eleva-
tor to the ﬁrst ﬂoor, and the key had to be inserted
into an exterior control panel and twisted by 90 de-
grees. This was in violation of the ADA Standards
because of the tight grasping and wrist twisting re-
quired. 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 ac-
cessible 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 tempo-
rarily moved to the second ﬂoor of the G Building,
which also was considered an “existing facility”
under Section 504. OCR identiﬁed several com-
pliance concerns with the two elevators leading
to these areas, and stated that the college must
have an alternate plan to ensure that each pro-
gram and activity conducted in the area is readily
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. ■
Schools aren’t required to provide
Case name: Letter to: University of Wisconsin,
No. 05-16-2035 (OCR 04/21/16).
Ruling: The Ofﬁce for Civil Rights dismissed a
claim that the University of Wisconsin discrimi-
nated by not granting a student the use of a tutor
because she never requested one. At the same time,
the institution agreed to resolve a compliance issue
related to an upcharge for a double room used as a
single to accommodate the student.