2010 ADA Standards
A Presentation by Kleo King
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
December 14, 2010
Access Coordinator, Metropolitan Museum of Art
Good afternoon everybody. Thanks for coming out on such a frigid day to learn about the changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. We are honored and delighted to have Kleo King speaking with us today. Kleo is the Sr. Vice President of Accessibility Services for the United Spinal Association. I met Kleo at the Leadership Exchange in Arts and Disability Conference in San Francisco this past August. I found her talks so helpful and clear in helping me to understand the changes and how they affect museums and other cultural organizations. Kleo is the Sr. VP of Accessibility for Spinal Association. She has worked in access for 20 years as a legal advisor and as an attorney, primarily in areas of transportation, and she is also active in regulatory for people with disabilities. And she has many other amazing qualifications that I could tell you about, but I want to have time to hand over the floor to her and have time for questions that may be related to our individual situations.
[Ms King's presentation was made with a projected PowerPoint presentation(download here)]
I'm going to start out with going over the new Americans With Disabilities Act standards that were published on Sept. 15, 2010 and then I'm going to go into things that haven't really changed with the standards, but have been the standards for the last 20 years and how it applies to museums.
Laws applicable to museums. Privately owned museums are Title III of Americans with Disabilities Act. That's anyplace a person goes to conduct business; whether it's a museum, a movie theater, or a doctor's office, a lawyer's office, that's Title III of ADA. Museums operated or partially funded by state or local government monies are covered by ADA Title II. And museums that receive federal funding, whether they are covered by Title II or Title III, or a combination thereof, are also covered by section 504, the rehabilitation act of 1973 and have to comply with regulations that provide access to people with disabilities in reference to Federal Accessibility Standards, which now are going to go by the wayside now that the ADA has been adopted. In September when it was issued, which is Sept.15, 2010, that's the trigger date, six months after that date becomes the effective date, which is March 15, 2011. So, access to programs – It's kind of odd to discuss this, because 20 years ago when the ADA was passed we'd say in 20 years from now you have to do x, y, and z. Now we say 6 months from September 11 you have to comply by the new regulations, but a lot of what is in the regulations have been around for 20 years and folks have been complying with it and or they haven't, they've been in violation of the ADA. So the effective date is really for anything new.
The compliance date, which is March, 15, 2012, that relates more to places undergoing renovation and new construction. The Department of Justice gave people a little bit more time because architectural plans take time to plan and draw and if things were in the works they didn't want to make people go back and re-tool. For new construction under a Title III entity, if permits were issued prior to Sept. 15, 2010 date, you still have to comply with the existing ADA regulations, the 1991 regulations, and the Americans with Disabilities Accessibilities guidelines that were promulgated under those regulations. Anything where the permits were issued after Sept.15, 2010 but prior to March 15, 2012, you have a choice. You can go with the old reg or the new reg, but you can't do a combination thereof. Oh, I like the bathrooms from the old reg and I like the ticket counters in the new reg. You have to pick one or the other. But there is a choice. And this is for both new construction and alterations.
So, if you were renovating a wing of your museum, the same trigger dates. Then for anything after Mar 15, 2012, you use the new regulations that we are going to talk a little bit about today. And when we say permits, that's the issuance date of permits. If you are a Title II entity, and you have state or local monies, a lot of times permits aren't an issue because the state or local government is the permitting authority, so at that point it's the start of construction. The dates are the same, but instead of dates permits are issued, it's the start of construction. And the start of construction is the real start, not ceremonial or ribbon cutting, but when the bulldozers come in and when actual construction starts.
And, more relevant I think, to most of you is the barrier removal provisions because you are all existing entities. You have to remove barriers, and have had to remove barriers for the past 20 years. So, anything that complied with ADA before the compliance date. So, right now if you completely comply, if everything in your museum or in your facility complies with the 1991 standards, you're fine. It's not like you have to go back in and change things. You can. Again, these are always minimums. We are always talking minimums. You can go above and beyond, and we really encourage that. If something complies with the 1991 ADA standards and it's not being altered or changed, you're fine. If there is something in your facility that does not comply, say maybe none of your bathrooms comply, now you would have to comply with the new standard.
Once you start renovating things, even if they complied with the 1991 standard, once you start renovating you must comply with the new standards after the March 15, 2012 date. Mandatory, voluntary, up until that point. One big change in the ADA regulations that I think will affect most Title II and Title III public accommodation entities is the definition of mobility devices. There is a two-tier approach now.
The first tier is for wheelchairs, canes, crutches, and scooters and the second tier is for other power-driven mobility devices. The best example I can think of is the Segway. They're made, not specifically for people with disabilities in mind, but some people with disabilities use them for their mobility aid. So there is this two-tiered approach and by two-tiered approach, we mean that the wheelchairs and other devices, the devices specifically designed for mobility disabilities, they must be permitted in a facility.
The other power-driven mobility devices must be permitted, unless the covered entity can prove it will fundamentally alter the program, service or activity, create a direct threat to others, or conflict with a legitimate safety requirement. That is going to be a hard threshold to meet. If you're worried about someone bumping into artwork and damaging it, is that going to be a high enough threshold? Probably not, because there are other ways to protect the art, as opposed to banning these mobility devices. And again, you only have to allow them for a person with a disability. If there is somebody who wants to use it because they think it's cool, you don't have to allow that. It's only when a person has a disability and they need that to assist them, that you would need to allow them.
Another big change in the new regulations is service animals. They still refer to them as service animals but basically, what the Dept. of Justice has done, and they have received a lot of criticism for that is, they say service animal means dog. Why they didn't just say service do, I don't know. A service animal only includes a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform a task for the benefit of an individual with disabilities. A service dog is trained, very well behaved, takes cues from its master. It does not run amok, bark or nip. If you see an animal that someone claims is a service animal and it is misbehaving, and going up and nipping at children. At this point it becomes a danger to other folks and you can say, "I'm sorry, but you can't have this animal in here." Because service animals are very well trained. This is limited to dogs and in some instances, miniature horses. There is a rumor around the disability community that there's a certain senator in the Midwest whose state has three training facilities for miniature horses and that's why they are allowed, but I don't think you will be seeing a miniature horse.
Again a service animal means dog (in some instances miniature horse). The Dept. of Justice went out of its way to say an emotional support animal is not considered a service animal. That doesn't mean you can't allow emotional support animals. You don't have to now. It does go on to say that psychiatric service dogs that are recognized to keep people grounded, so, if it's a psychiatric service dog, you can allow it. So, to me, this just makes matters more complicated for people such as you who run public service accommodations. So, again, service animal, dog, emotional support animal, you're not required to allow in, but psychiatric service dogs are recognized as a service animal.
Accessible seating is a big change in the new regulations. It's not going to affect most of you. I do know many museums have theaters or other areas. The regulation on accessible seating for anything under 500 hasn't changed; it is still 1% of the seats. But, any facility with 500 seats and up, rather than 1 seat per 100 seats, it is now one accessible location for 150 seats and so there was a reduction in the number of wheelchairs seating locations due to usage studies. Then companion seats – and that would affect any type of auditorium where you have fixed seats and you have to have a certain number of wheelchair seating locations, the companion seats are allowed to be removable seats now. It was a little gray in the old standard whether it had to be a fixed seat next to the wheelchair location or they could be a removable seat.
Now there is an option, if you have a theater in your venue, but companion seats must be shoulder-to-shoulder alignment. So that means the wheelchair user, when they are in the wheelchair location, their shoulder lines up with the person next to them, just as a row of seats would. And if you decide to do a folding chair as opposed to a theater seat, the folding chair must be of the same quality and amenity as the fixed theater seat. If there are armrests on the theater seat, the folding seat must have armrests. If the fixed seat is cushioned and padded, the folding seat must be cushioned and padded.
Designated aisle seats has changed. It used to be 5% of total aisle seats. Now it must be 1% of the seats in the venue. For restaurants and bars, there were changes there. And again I know some of the museums do have restaurants. Others don't. It used to be that 5 % of the seats had to be accessible which means they have to have knee and toe clearance and located on an accessible route – now the accessible number is based on the actual # of seats in the restaurant. Before it was based on the number of tables. If you had 10 tables, 5% would be one table. Now if you have 10 tables but each table seats six people, that's 60 people and now you need 5% of 60 to be accessible, so that's a little bit of an increase if you have a restaurant in your facility.
Another huge change is in assisted listening systems. Assisted listening systems are required in spaces where communication is integral to the space and audio amplification is provided. So, this room needs to have an assisted listening system. Before the old requirement, not only was communication integral to the room and amplification provided, but it had to have fixed seats. These seats aren't fixed, so under the old rule, this room would not have required assisted listening systems. Now it's for any room that can become an auditorium and meeting space like we're using this room today. The number of receivers is based on the seating capacity of the room. There is a chart in the new regulations. If you have 50 or less seats, you need two assisted listening receivers, and of those two, they have to be hearing aid compatible and as the number of seating capacity goes up, the number of receivers goes up. You always have to have at least two receivers that are hearing aid compatible.
Assisted listening systems must be identified by the international symbol and the regulations say the sign must be on the room. They do have an exception where if you have a place where you sell tickets, example, Yankee Stadium, you go up to the ticket window, you buy your ticket, you go in, you can have the signage on the ticket window. There was lots of discussion by people with disabilities about this. People wanted to have the signage on both the ticket window and the actual auditorium because maybe there aren't tickets. Maybe the program is part of the general admission. Maybe you were thinking you only had a couple of hours to spend here and you wouldn't be able to do any of the films, presentations, or shows and then you have done the tour a little quicker and you decide to go in, now you don't know if the amplification is available or the room has assisted listening. The best practice is to put it on the room and also the point of sale for tickets.
Another big change, and again, if you currently comply, you don't have to go in and lower anything. Currently the standards have two types of reach ranges; for people of short stature or people who use wheelchairs. Formerly if approaching something forward, say in a wheelchair, it was 48". If a sideways approach, it was 54". They have done away with that. Now it's only 48", regardless of front or side approach. A good example of that is in bathrooms, the paper towel dispensers. If it is mounted at 50", it now doesn't comply with 48". It did comply with 54" as long as there was a parallel approach for the wheelchair, so that means a wheelchair could go parallel to the paper towel dispenser. An entity doesn't have to go in and lower all the paper towel dispensers 2".
Effective communication, I want to stress, is not a new provision. It's been there. It's always been there. It's just being fleshed out a little bit better in the new regulations. You must take appropriate steps to ensure communication with people with disabilities is as effective as communication with people without disabilities. Effective communication includes assisted listening devices, captioning, qualified interpreters, large print, Braille, text. The most important thing about effective communication is one thing doesn't work for everybody. You have to have choices. You have to listen to the person with a disability when they are asking for an accommodation and what will work for them.
Sales counters – I noticed that when I came here. I saw you had the hearing loop installed and someone was turning in the headset. They must have been doing one of the audio programs here. So if you have a hearing loop installed at a ticket counter, you would have the signage to the right [of the slide]. Accessible counters are 36 " above the floor, measured. If all counters are at 36", that's great. If only one is 36" above the floor and all the rest are higher, you would have to have the wheelchair universal symbol sign must be on that one, so the person in the wheelchair would know that is the lower counter where they would go to purchase a ticket or whatever they are selling.
Queue lines. Queue lines should be set up so they are at least 36" wide. That's the minimum width for a wheelchair user to pass. Another thing with queue lines is that they create a tripping hazard for a person who is blind or has low vision. So, in this slide, to the left, is a typical queue line, those belt things that pull out from a stanchion about waist high and you can adjust them and make them all different angles and shapes and sizes. A person who uses a white cane as they walk because they have low vision or are blind, will trip on this. A better example is to the right of the slide where they have a queue line with a horizontal strip at waist height, but also another at ankle height. The cane will be able to detect that and they will be able to know there's a barrier there and they are going to be able to know "Oh there's a queue line. I'd better get in it and wait my turn". So, if you have any kind of queue line for any kind of exhibits, tickets, anything like that, I strongly suggest you make it like the example to the right of the slide.
Large print. If you have brochures, you must have some with large print or other alternate formats available. So that if a person who reads Braille can request it. A person who needs it on tape can request it. Anytime you have a handout, there has to be an alternate format so that someone can request it, in a timely fashion. If they are here to see an exhibit that only runs for 12 weeks, they are here that day, they need the printed material in an alternate format, you have to be able to get it to them that day. You can't tell them come back in 6 weeks, and we'll get our Braille printer ready. Have everything. If you have labels on display, describing what the piece of artwork is or the display is. Signs must have color contrast, dark on light, light on dark, and large enough so that people with low vision can read them. Providing handouts might be easier for someone to read from a handout as opposed to having something on a wall.
Audiotape is another example of an alternative format. If they can't read they can listen to a tape and find out what they are looking at. I was talking with Ellen [Rubin] before the presentation and she made a good point. If you have an audio description of the displays, it has to describe the actual piece of artwork. It can't just say it's a Ming vase from such and such a century. Well, great, but what color is it, what texture, how big, if your audiotape is there for a person who is blind or has low vision. And I know I didn't do that justice, but Ellen can help you in describing different pieces.
This slide shows you some examples of different font samples. It's easy to use. It's right in the Americans with Disabilities regulations. It gives you the sizes and the different types of fonts that are clear, so that there's no guesswork. Display labels – If display labels are sloped, the display label is 36" off the finished floor, it's sloped, so that a person of short stature, or a person in wheel chair, or children can read it easier and again it should be in large print with good color contrast. It should have a more matte finish, not glossy so that light reflects off it, so there is not glare.
Wall labels should be centered at 54", this is a label someone is going to read, it's not for reach range, so someone standing or sitting on a wheelchair can see the label on the wall. Freestanding display cases - 36" above the finished floor is the height for things that are accessible, as with the ticket counters. So as you are setting up new display cases, this is the correct height, 36" above the finished floor so that people can see it. For best practice, the display table should have knee and toe clearance so someone can pull up close to it and inspect it a little bit closer.
Space requirements. A person using a wheelchair needs to have maneuvering clearance. The width is 36". That's minimum again. We always talk minimums. What's better is 60" so that you can have a wheelchair user and other people could pass, or two wheelchairs passing. The regulations require that if you only a minimum 36 ", such as a hallway or if you are ushering people through a display area and you want everyone to go the same way so that the flow continues, 36" is the minimum, but every 200 feet you need a 60" area so people can pass or turn around if they need to exit.
Limits of protruding objects. Anything lower than 80", so if you have things overhead hanging is a hazard to anyone blind or of low vision. Anything 27 " above the floor, a cane won't detect it. An object can't protrude from the wall more that 4". This slide shows the different ranges. This [a slide of a staircase] is a protruding object. I can tell you exactly where it is. That is the office building I work in. It's 57"above the finished floor. I'm 5'6". When I stood underneath that staircase, it hit me just below the eye, cheek level. And there's no cane detection or anything. It's a common protruding object. Telephone booths that stick out. Fire extinguishers. I don't even know how many fire extinguishers I've had to site in reports I've done. They're about 5" to 6" outside the wall and they are always above 27" above the floor. Any kind of artwork that is hanging.
Here's a staircase drawing that shows cane detection. All they have to do is put planters or a railing around it and that provides cane detection. [Display case shown] Hopefully no one recognizes this. It's in a museum in Manhattan. That is a display case on a huge pedestal. It's probably a quarter or an eighth the size of this room. The pedestal recedes more than 4 inches and it's 30" above the finished floor. It is a protruding object.
Probably most of you would have walked by it and not thought of that. If the pedestal came out a few more inches so that it would only have been recessed 4", it would have been fine. [slide] This is in a museum. It's a stone and it protrudes out 7" and it's 54" above the floor. It's a protruding object.
Sometimes things can't be made accessible. Or not everything can be made accessible. Historic buildings, depending on why they are historic, sometimes can't be accessible, totally. If it's a house and it's historical just because George Washington slept there, then you can probably make it accessible. If it's historical because of the architecture then you wouldn't have to make it accessible. That's a broad statement. We had one historical house, historical because of the architecture, the front entrance couldn't be made accessible, but there was another entrance that could be made accessible. So, you have to look at the whole picture, you can't just say there's no access available to me. There is a building on Long Island, a house that was historical because an artist lived there. They did some renovations to the house. They added bathrooms for the public. At that point they had to make it accessible.
This is the [Lower East Side] Tenement Museum and I can identify it as the Tenement Museum because they have done a wonderful job of access. There's no elevator, no way to install an elevator in the Tenement Museum itself, so they've done a virtual tour. It's on the website. It's also in their accessible building that's down the street where you buy your tickets and the gift shop. They run the film there as well. And they have people in period costume there while the film is running, explaining different things and answering questions. They also are doing a renovation to the basement level.
I think they are making it into a tavern and they are going to put a lift in. It's not going to affect the historic nature, but if they ripped out the staircase and put in an elevator, it wouldn't be a tenement house any more. It's something that really needs to be thought out. I suggest you consult with people in the disability community. If you have issues, whether it's a historic building or a museum such as this and you are coming out with new displays to make them accessible, not only to people who have communication disabilities, sight low vision, blind, hearing disabilities or mobility disabilities.
A couple of questions were fielded before the presentation and one was from someone from libraries, so I put this slide in there. ADA does address library stacks. They have to be 36" between the stacks. Everyone has to be 36" between the stacks. We just surveyed some libraries in DC and sometimes they were 40, sometimes they were 32, so now they have to go in and … And, also at the end of the stacks, it has to be wider, it has to be at least 42" so you that you can turn the corner to go down the next stack if it dead ends on the wall. If we had stacks in this room to the back wall, you don't want to dead end it on the back wall. You'd want to move it back 42" so that people would have room to get around it.
I wanted to leave a lot of time for questions. I knew you'd have a lot of questions and sometimes that's more valuable than me trying to guess what interests you. Here are a couple of information sources. "The Smithsonian Guide for Accessible Exhibit Designs" and the website is there. I can e-mail this PowerPoint to anyone who would like it. That's my contact information. I also have a handout, "Maintaining Accessibility in Museums". Its on the Dept. of Justice website and they encourage duplicating, so I did. If anyone wants a copy of that, I can e-mail that to anyone who wants a copy of it.
Questions and Comments from the Audience
Q: I was wondering about the service animals, the dogs, whether they have some kind of certification that they would be able to present that would show that it was a service dog, rather than some other kind of dog.
A: There are some places that do have certifications, but not all do. You could request it, but if they can't produce it, a license or certification, you couldn't deny it. It's more that you would have to see if it behaves like a service animal when it comes into the museum.
Q: A related question is about the Segways. There is no way you could of identifying if someone requires the Segway to make their way around.
A: You can ask. Same thing with a service animal. You can ask if this is a service animal, yes or no. You can ask if you need the Segway because of a disability, yes or no. Will people lie? Maybe. You can't ask why, what's your disability and get intrusive but sometimes just asking the question will weed out people who are trying to fake it.
Q: My understanding is you that it's okay to ask what the service animal is trained to do if you have doubts.
A: You can ask if this is a training service animal. But only ask if it appears it really isn't. If the dog is behaving well, some animals are with harnesses, some have leashes, and some don't even have leashes but just walk beside people because they are so well trained. Only make those inquiries if the animal is appearing not to be a service animal; jumping up on people, barking, going crazy.
Q: In terms of effective communication for assisted listening devices, what is the minimum for effectiveness? If we are opening a theatre, do we need assisted listening devices and an interpreter?
A: An assisted listening system would be required in a theater. If a person with a disability comes and says they need an interpreter, then you would have to reasonably accommodate that person's needs and provide them with an interpreter.
Q: What would be the consequences of not being able to do that?
A: Everybody should have a policy in place. Somebody can't expect if they walk up to the box office and buy a ticket to a show that starts in 5 minutes and an interpreter be there at this point. Should it be? That's a personal opinion. If they give 24 hours notice or 48 hours notice or they call up and say they will be there on Saturday and will need an interpreter, there's plenty of time to arrange for that interpreter.
Also, what some area venues do is they may have an interpreter at certain performances and notify the community of that and then that's an option that they can come to that performance. But, that doesn't say, that because you have one performance every third Saturday with an interpreter and if someone requested it for Tuesday because they are a tourist and are only here for a week that you wouldn't have to accommodate that. And again, accommodation is always what's reasonable, so you would have to look at the expense, the lead time that they are giving you and that type of thing. And for an interpreter for purchasing tickets, you wouldn't need to provide an interpreter for the two minutes it take to purchase a ticket where you could pass notes or something like having an assisted listening system. It's working with the person with the disability.
Q: I just want to clarify that the two accommodations can be very different and are not interchangeable. People who can use an assisted listening system might have a hearing loss, but not use an interpreter, so someone who needs an interpreter is someone who uses American Sign Language and cannot use an assisted listening device. They are two different things, like apples and oranges. They are two different audiences.
A: Also, think of American Sign Language as a language. It's like French and Spanish and English. It's a whole different language. So, offering somebody material to read, they may not be able to read it, or comprehend it enough, because their language is American Sign Language.
Q: When you are talking about a reasonable effort or reasonable accommodation, is that just in terms of interpreters or are you talking about accommodation because that's one of the things that's tricky for those of us who work at museums to convince our museums that we have to do certain things because they want to know if this is the law that you have to do this or is this the law if you can afford it.
A: Any person with a disability can ask for a reasonable accommodation. An example is that there was a patron whose son had a disability. He couldn't stand in line, so could he be allowed to stand in the front of the line, or come a few minutes early. Again, it's a reasonable accommodation. You can do anything you want for any of your patrons, whether they have a disability or not. So, if you wanted to allow somebody to cut the line because of a disability maybe they have stamina issues. They can't stand outside in 90 degree heat, waiting to get in to see this really popular exhibit. So, if you would allow them to come early and get in first. Again, it's what's reasonable and if the person is truly disabled and the accommodation they are asking for relates back to the disability.
Q: She was asking again to get an interpreter if you can, reasonably.
A: If they came right then and there and didn't ask ahead of time. Most people with disabilities who need an interpreter realize that if the performance isn't already providing the interpreting service that they need, whether it's sign language interpreter or someone who does audio description, that they have to call the venue or the museum and say then need this type of interpreter or this type of accommodation. If they show up on site and ask for it then and there and didn't ask ahead of time it's not going to be reasonable.
Most people with disabilities who need an interpreter realize that if a performance isn't already providing the interpreting service that they need, whether it's sign language interpreter or it's someone who does audio description that they have to call the venue or call the museum and say I'm coming on this day and I need this kind of interpreter or this kind of accommodation and then you can set it up. If they show up on
site and want it right then and there, it's not going to be reasonable.
But, again, to provide an interpreter for the number of times its requested, it's going to be reasonable, unless you are being requested 10 times a day every day and at that point you'd want to step back and evaluate and well maybe we either have someone on staff fulltime because its so popular for this certain show or we set up shows, every other day we set up the interpreter service and get it out there so that the majority of people who need whatever type of interpretation or effective communication that
you're providing knows when to come and you assist 10 folks instead of one at a time.
Q: For assisted listening devices, is there a parameter that it needs to be a loop, or it can be infrared or it can be FM?
A: It's some sort of system and you can pick which system the venue chooses and then you let the people know what kind of system you have.
Q: I work in a public library and we're revising our policy on serving people with disabilities. Some have questioned you don't need a policy. It's really the same as serving anyone. But now you are mentioning things as far as interpretation and that. Can you address some things that we might want to include in such a policy for our staff and the public?
A: That's a pretty broad question. Your policy should be that if a person with a disability requests accommodation that your staff know how to answer that. So that if say you are having a book reading in the library and the author is going to be there for one day to read for an hour and you have a request for a sign language interpreter that your staff you knows that is an accommodation that the library is going to provide and knows how to set that up so they can answer the person "Oh yes. We'll make the arrangements and I'll call you back" and they do the process. Or, if the author is going to be there at 2:00, 5:00 and 8:00 then your staff would know to ask the person "Which reading are your coming to so that we can have the sign language interpreter available for that reading". Just so they know the various accommodations that could be requested and they know
how to respond to them. If you have information available on audio, or large print or in Braille, where that's kept or how they go about getting information put into Braille so that if someone requests it you have it.
Education is the best tool because if somebody called up and asks for an accommodation and the person they get on the phone doesn't have any idea what an accommodation is, has never dealt with a person with a disability you're probably going to end up saying the wrong thing, and maybe like Ellen says, end up getting sued, or a complaint filed or you're at least going to have a dissatisfied customer.
And language is also very important on how to say people with disabilities. You don't use certain terms; handicapped, crippled. Some of your staff may not understand that. It's person-first language, people with disabilities, person who is blind. Just so they are comfortable with it. We have a publication you can get it on our website, called "Disability Etiquette". It's on United Spinal's website, www.unitedspinal.org. I know Ellen does sensitivity training.
I can't stress how important that is for frontline staff, whether they are selling the tickets, the security that's pointing people in the direction, just how to address people with disabilities. Some people have never met a person with a disability or the only person they every met with a disability is their 80 year old grandmother who is just very needy because they are their grandmother and that's how they are going to treat a 20 year old person with a disability who is going to get really offended because they are very capable of doing everything that anyone else is but the person can only relate to disability because their 80 year old grandmother is disabled. Definitely sensitivity training is really key. It's just customer service. I'm sure you must have customer service training for all your staff just so they know how to relate to the public. Including a piece on dealing with people who have disabilities would improve customer service tenfold.
Another thing, depending on your buildings - having a survey done of your restrooms. Your signage - is it in the right place? Does the women's room, the men's room have the signage in the right location, which is on the latch side of the door, mounted, Braille, 60" centerline? And has Braille. If it accessible it has the wheelchair symbol for accessibility. If it's not accessible, then there's signage telling the person where to go for the accessible restroom.
There's all kinds of things. If you do have a cafeteria or restaurant do you have accessible tables? Are your condiments and napkins and things that people have to retrieve are they at accessible heights? Are they easy to find? Do you have menus in Braille? How would your people in the restaurant serve a person who with low vision, who is blind who asks for assistance.
There are all kinds of things. Bringing in an artist to set up their new show. How do you tell them "Sorry, you can't have this object here. It's a protruding object. It's not allowed". And how to deal with that so that the artist doesn't get offended but it's also accessible to people with disabilities.
New technologies coming out - There are all kinds of videos, descriptive. You press a button and the tape starts talking about the object or the historic period that the object comes from. Somebody who is deaf isn't going to be able to hear that, so how are you going to accommodate that person? Everything you do you have to consider people with various disabilities, whether it's some type of sensory disability, a physical disability, a mobility disability It's a lot. It's a lot of work.
Q: Are all the topics that we covered today all the new items for the ADA standards or are some from the 1991 standards?
A: The first 10 slides, with the definition and the Segway and the reach ranges are new. Once I started talking about effective communication that has basically always been there other than now there's just some more detail on assisted listening devices and the numbers you have to have. The slide where I said this is not new - from then on - everything has been in place for the last 20 years.
Q: I have a question about your organization. Were you formerly Eastern Paralyzed Veterans?
A: Yes, we were.
Q: I know that Eastern Paralyzed Veterans used to provide lots of services to organizations like reviewing plans, if they were putting a ramp in. Does your organization do that as well?
A: We still do that, only we charge a fee now. We actually work with some museums in New York City.
Q: Now I have a list, I came in with one, but now I have seven.
A: Uh oh. That means I didn't do a good job.
Q: No, you did a great job. I just got inspired thoughts. Qualified interpreters, does that include docents who do verbal descriptions for the blind? Is interpreter American Sign Language or would that be a docent who does verbal description tours?
A: Qualified interpreter usually means American Sign Language. I mean, I can finger stuff, that doesn't mean I'm a qualified interpreter.
Q: I didn't see anything in the slides that had to do with a docent that does verbal imaging or a verbal description tour?
A: Audio description.
Q: A docent who does verbal description?
A: That's fine. That would be effective communication. So if you have tours where a docent goes around with someone and provides the instruction and the person with the disability feels that's effective for them, then you've achieved your requirement under the law.
Q: Where can I direct museums that I work with? I train docents how to develop and implement verbal description and touch tours. And lots of times they ask me "Where does it say that? Where does it say under the law that we have to do this?" And I say "Look under Effective Communication". But then they don't know where exactly to look. They are looking for where does it say docents, where does it say verbal descriptions. Where do I direct them? How nebulous is this? So, where is that included?
A: It's pretty nebulous. For effective communication, it's gray. It really hasn't been fleshed out, telling people exactly what they have to do. I think what the Dept. of Justice has in mind that it can be different for different people, depending on their disability and the level of the disability. Again, you talk to the person with the disability. And what they request is what you provide, as long as it is reasonable.
Q: Could you just clarify museum cases? There is an instance where we want to allow those in wheelchairs to slide in underneath them. And we want it to be 36" so you can see on top and you want to be able to put your toes and slide in there and at the same time provide some kind of barrier at the bottom for people with canes not to bump into anything that protrudes 30".
A: Actually, if it's like the little table I showed in the slide, for knee clearance it's 27" above the floor, so that and cane go together. If it's more than 27" above the floor, according to the rules, a cane is not going to be able to detect it. So, that goes hand in hand. The one example I gave, that was 30" high, that's 3" too high, so a cane wouldn't be able to detect it until somebody bumped into it.
Q: Okay, I thought the measurement before was a little higher than 27", the one where the wheelchair slides under it.
A: The knee clearance is at 27", the toe clearance is at 9".
Q: I have a follow up on that question. A table case which has pedestals on each side, with nothing in the center or the back, so it's a big rectangle with solid pedestals on either side. It's going to be higher that 27" so the wheelchair can slide under it. But, does that mean it's not going to be effective in working with a cane?
A: Depends on how it's set up. And the pedestals will be your cane detection.
Q: How wide is the arc for the cane?
A: It depends on the approach, too. If it's in the path of travel, so that somebody is walking by it against this wall, and the pedestal is at the end, that's what their cane is going to detect, that pedestal. The knee clearance is at 27", so you could have it, so that even as they walk by it they realize that it is a table that's 5' long with stuff on top of it.
Q: I have a question about wheelchairs for rent or to borrow? Are there any guidelines around that? Because that's something that our museum is working on now. They are concerned having them to borrow because of liability issues.
A: You don't have to provide wheelchairs. People come with their own assistive devices under the law. Many venues do provide them. They ask for waivers or a release.
Q: [not audible]
A: Large print. You must have large print or other alternate … It depends on what it is, is it one image that you could then easily have a one sentence description or a three sentence description about it? Or is it a 15 minute …
Q: It's usually a dance performance or an abstract …
A: So, as opposed to an audio description, you could have it be taped so that a person could listen to it, kind of like those things you pick up and put to your ear at museums and they tell you about it. That way you're not having a person there, every time somebody requests audio description you already have that on audio and the person gets the tape and can listen to it for that piece or whatever. And that's very affordable and can be re-used.
Q: My comment goes back to the whole idea of videos coming to a museum and they're not a captioned when they should be. Possibly if you're having an exhibit that's coming from somewhere and there's a rental agreement that goes on in between it. If the rental agreement says something like it has to include accessible materials, like captioning of videos. Then that makes your life a lot easier. You don't have to spend time figuring out how to do this, it's just done. And then that will make it just that much more accessible when it moves on to other museums and extends the whole role of accessibility. And that's something that would be a good idea to educate the administration of the museum about the cost and the issues that happen when pieces come to the museum and the loose considerations aren't already in place. It's this museum's, or any other
museums getting the show, it's their costs and their staff time to make it accessible. So you have a real argument that could happen at a higher level to encourage that, especially in the agreement of the exhibit.
A: That's a good idea. And sometimes agreements will just say blanket language, like have to comply with ADA, and people don't know what that means, so if you fleshed it out like she suggested that would be very helpful. And again, doing audio, even if for things there's no audio to it, just a guided museum tour that's audio, as a wayfinding, just so people know what rooms they're going into and what to expect. People without disabilities love audio tours because they go with the flow and press the button, you're at number four, so you press four and it tells you all about it.
Q: I see you have the slide on font samples. I'm curious for signage, what you might have on your work of art, what size would be appropriate and also for handouts, if you want to put the wall displays on a sheet of 8 1/2x11 sheet of paper to replace the loose leaves, what size you would recommend?
A: It depends on how far away the person is when we are talking about wall mounted or mounted on the display. The size of the font depends on how far away the person is who has to see the sign. And again for large print, at least 16 font is what I've been told, but again it's individual. Different people read different sizes.
Q: So, there isn't anything specific for wall signage, to describe a particular work of art.
A: I just don't know what all the requirements are off the top of my head. Again, it depends on how far away the sign is and what sizes and what you need.
Q: Also, how much time is considered reasonable when requesting specialized tours, for someone to wait? Museums have been telling me three weeks, a month. That seems kind of far away to wait for a tour, too long.
A: Again, I think it depends on the size of the museum, the size of the staff, what kind of tour you're requesting, for the timeframe. Again there are a lot of variables. A large museum with at lot of staff, three weeks seems like a long time.
Q: How long should it take to create changes within a museum, for instance if a museum has a film and the film has captions on it. I can't see it and I'm requesting the museum to have something possibly in large print for when I come. How long is a reasonable length of time to permit the museum to come up with that particular accommodation?
A: Again I think it depends on the size of the museum, how much staff. Is somebody going to have to type it all out, is it already there and they just have to make it bigger on a Xerox machine? It depends on what they already have in place.
Q: Be patient. It has to do with time element, staff elements.
A: Right, what's reasonable. Are they really listening to your request? Or are they trying to put you off and hope you go away? You can probably get a feel for that. Are they really trying to accommodate you or are they just hoping they won't call back.
Q: I just wanted to follow up, Karen. There is some guidance for print size labels, depending on viewing distance. It was done some time ago. To some degree that kind of material doesn't go out of date, but it could use revision. It's called the "Standards Manual for Signage and Labeling". It was available through the American Association of Museums. It was actually based on research done here at The Met after the ADA was passed and based on the ADA but looking specifically at museum labels and at these very issues, of distance and different heights and all that, different types of works of art, whether 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional and that kind of thing.
A: What does the museum here use? What particular size?
Q: It varies. It varies completely, there are so many things. But the standards manual does try to give some guidance in some different circumstances. If the label is on the ground, it should be this height, if the label is at standing or accessible for a wheelchair user viewing height, wall label, if it's a slanted label in a case, that sort of thing.
A: The American Association of Museums has that information and the Smithsonian Guidelines for Exhibition Design has some label information as well.
Well, thank you very much everybody and thank you so much Kleo. I'm sure we could go on and on and I would really love to continue the conversation all these questions and discussion. Through the Museum Access Consortium Facebook page we can put links to this information or you can use the list serve, for all of you who are on the Yahoo list. Or you can e-mail as well. And we will post the information today to keep the conversation going. Kleo, thank you so very much. This has been so helpful for all of us.