OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL

Checklist of Disability Access Standards for Office and Administrative Areas

The following checklist has been developed to help you evaluate whether conditions in your office meet disability access standards. The checklist is based on the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, which apply to Congressional facilities by virtue of section 210 the Congressional Accountability Act. The items included in the checklist were the most common problems identified when House and Senate offices were inspected during the 104th Congress. Section 210 of the CAA requires that inspections be conducted on a periodic basis and at least once each Congress.
At the end of the checklist, there is a list of resources that can help your office with access problems that are identified.
Access may be physical-for example, getting into a Member's office or public meeting room. Or it may be related to communications-such as obtaining copies of printed documents in alternative formats, locating a specific office number, being able to hear committee deliberations during a public session, or calling a staff person on a text telephone (TTY/TDD) for information. Many barriers to public access can be easily eliminated. When it is not possible to remove a physical or communications barrier, this list suggests alternatives.

Building and Facility Accessibility

Path of Travel
Visitors who use wheelchairs, scooters, or walking aids require a 36-inch-wide travel route when traveling along a corridor or through an office and 32 inches passing through a doorway. Additional width is required at turns, particularly when operating a door. Furniture, shelves, mailboxes and similar items should not be located where they narrow a passageway or maneuvering space. Supplies and cartons should not block or narrow routes through public areas.
Detection of
Protruding Objects
Objects that protrude more than 4 inches into a passageway of any width may not be detected by visitors who are blind if the leading edges of such items are more than 27 inches above the floor (where they won't be detected by a cane). Shelves and other projections along a public circulation route should be relocated if they fall above this zone. When mailboxes are mounted on suite entrance doors, they are not easily detected by the cane of a visitor who may be turning in from the corridor. It is best if they can be relocated off the path of travel.
Floor Surfaces
Surfaces that are not stable, firm and slip-resistant, such as loose or buckled carpeting, can impede rollability or catch a crutch tip or foot. Thresholds that exceed 1/2 inch, wires and cables that stretch across circulation routes, and area rugs on top of carpeting can also block access to public areas.
Signage
Visitors use signs to find Member offices and hearing rooms. When those signs are blocked by flags, as is sometimes the case, it is impossible for people who have vision impairments to locate the room they are looking for. Visitors who read Braille signage must be able to stand close to the sign to read it, as must low-vision readers. Mailboxes, chairs, or even cartons temporarily stacked beneath a sign will be barriers to readability. Place flags where they will not obstruct signs for rooms. For example, flags can be installed on the wall to the latch side of the door (and not on the door).
Doors
Historic doors and knobs usually do not eet accessibility standards: the doors are too heavy, a single leaf often does not provide 32 inches of clearance, and the hardware requires tight grasping or twisting to use. Doors can be left open to ensure independent access; if this is not feasible, make sure that a staff member will hear a knock on the door.

Communications Accessibility

Materials in Alternate Formats
Constituents with vision impairments may require documents and paperwork in alternate formats. Information saved as computer files can be made available in large print-legible to many low-vision readers-by reformatting a file in 18-point type. See section on RESOURCES (below) for information on other formats.
Audible cues
When a person with a vision impairment is testifying in official session, audible cues can advise the speaker of start, remaining, and finish times. This is most easily done by the timekeeper.
Auxiliary aids and services
Sign language interpretation, alternate formats, and other auxiliary aids and services can be arranged through the House Office of ADA Services, 202/225-3005 (V) or 202/225-3006 (TTY/TDD), or the Congressional Special Services Office, 202/224-4048 (V) or 202/224-4049 (TTY/TDD).
Assistive Listening Systems
If you are planning an event that requires the use of a sound amplification system, you may want to look into an assistive listening system for audience members who are hard of hearing. Systems may use infra red, radio wave, or inductive loop technology to pick up the signal at a microphone and direct it to an individual receiver carried by a listener. It is then transmitted through a neck loop, headphones, or even a small ear bud, making it possible to separate the message from the background noise. The volume is adjustable at the receiver. Both portable and fixed systems are available, each with a variety of hearing devices to accommodate individual preference. Most are hearing-aid compatible. Several committee hearing rooms on Capitol Hill are already equipped with built-in audio induction loop systems. For information on the location of the rooms presently equipped, contact the office of the Architect of the Capitol, Electronics Engineering Division, 224-3140.
Telephones
People who can speak and hear use a standard (voice) telephone. People who can see and key (type) can use a piece of equipment called either a Text Telephone (TTY) or Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) to communicate with anyone else with similar abilities and equipment. Most House and Senate offices have a text telephone to communicate with deaf or hard of hearing constituents who use this device.
 
 
A text telephone is almost useless if the number is not available to the public. The TTY/TDD number should be printed where other phone numbers are printed. For example, if there is a voice number on the letterhead, a TTY/TDD number should also be listed.
 
 
The Congressional Special Services Office and the Capitol Switchboard assist in facilitating TTY/TDD use for Congress and can also (in special situations) forward messages to offices that do not have a TTY/TDD in their offices. Additional phone numbers to contact for assistance are the following:
 
 
Capitol Switchboard: 202/224-3091 (TTY/TDD) House TTY/TDD Message System: 202/225-1904 (TTY/TDD).
 
 
Relay Services. Telephone relay services link people using a voice telephone and people using a text telephone by routing calls through a communications operator who has both sets of equipment and acts as an intermediary between callers. Constituents who do not communicate by voice may use the General Services Administration's toll-free Federal Information Relay System (FIRS) to reach you by telephone, 800/877-8339 (Voice & TTY/TDD). Callers may also use their state relay service (every state is required to have one). See the last page for information on relay services that you may want to keep handy.

Meetings

Public Meetings
Public meetings should be held in accessible facilities, whether they are held at State or District office or in other facilities. A local Center for Independent Living may be able to assist in identifying accessible facilities; contact the National Council on Independent Living at 703/525-3406 (V/TTY) for specific locations. Similar assistance may be provided by the Governor's Committee in your state; contact the President's Committee on Employment of Persons with Disabilities for a listing at 202/376-6200 (V) or 202/376-6205 (TTY).
Meeting Notices
Published notices of town meetings and similar public programs or meetings should identify a contact for auxiliary aids or other accommodations. For example, a notice such as the following would be appropriate:
 
 
INFORMATION FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: Accommodations for individuals with disabilities, including assistive listening systems, interpreters, and materials in alternate formats, may be arranged by contacting [FILL IN NAME OR OFFICE HERE] in advance of the event (4 business days notice recommended). V: [FILL IN NUMBER HERE]; TTY: [FILL IN NUMBER HERE].

Technical Resources

Office of Compliance. The General Counsel of the Office of Compliance oversees compliance with section 210 of the Congressional Accountability Act. The General Counsel's Office is responsible for inspecting Congressional facilities for compliance with access standards and provides technical assistance on compliance issues. Contact: Mary Masulla, Senior Attorney, 202-724-9292 (V), 202-426-1665 (TTY/TDD).
Access Board. The U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board-the Access Board-developed the ADA Accessibility Guidelines. The Access Board has worked with the General Counsel of the Office of Compliance on access issues in Legislative Branch facilities. The Access Board operates a toll- free technical assistance line to answer Member, staff, or constituent questions on building and facility accessibility, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (except Wednesday, when there is no technical assistance after 2:00 p.m.). Contact: 800/872-2253 (V) or 800/993-2822 (TTY).
Disability and Technical Assistance Centers. Ten regional Disability and Technical Assistance Centers funded by the federal government can answer more general questions about the ADA. A single toll-free number will put you in touch with the Center serving your region. Contact: 800/949-4232 (V/TTY).
House Office of ADA Services. The Office of ADA Services provides assistance to Members and other offices of the House of Representatives in accommodating constituents, visitors, and employees. It is located at 722 O'Neill House Office Building. Contact: William X. Baranowski, Director, or Joseph P. Horn at 202/225-3005 (V) or 202/225-3006 (TTY/TDD). The Office provides or arranges for various auxiliary aids and services such as assistive listening systems, portable TTY's, interpreters, information on alternate formats, and assistance with accessibility guidelines.
The Congressional Special Services Office. The Congressional Special Services Office (CSSO) is a joint office under the jurisdiction of the Capitol Guide Board, composed of the Senate and House Sergeants at Arms and the Architect of the Capitol. CSSO offers a variety of services to assist staff, constituents and visitors who have disabilities. Services include adaptive tours of the Capitol building, wheelchair loans, escort services, publications in alternative print formats for individuals who are blind or have low vision, assistive listening devices, and interpreting services for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing (see Appendix H of Chapter V of the U.S. Senate Handbook for information about the services available through the Special Services Office.) The office is located on the first floor of the Capitol, in the Crypt area directly below the Great Rotunda. It is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To request assistance or obtain more information, call 202/224-4048 (V) or 202/224-4049 (TTY/TDD).
The Senate Services Department of the Sergeant at Arms. The Senate Service Department provides a variety of Braille and large print services and can assist Senators' offices in preparing responses to correspondence from individuals who are blind or have low vision. To request services, contact the Pre-Press department, 202-224-3623.