ADA Compliance for Public, Educational and Government Access Channels
First, does the ADA apply to PEG channels? How?
Yes, ADA compliances do apply to PEG channels. Specifically, ADA Title II. We will take a deeper look into what Title II is below.
Ok, what is Title II of the ADA?
Title II of the ADA is a protection from discrimination granted to those with disabilities in the state and local governments' services, programs, and activities. This protection includes state and local government programs even if they are not receiving assistance from the Federal Government.
This applies to all PEG channels; they must provide accessibility programs to state or local programs and services (such as producing captions). This was verified by the Department of Justice in a 2015 FCC Roundtable (minutes 31-36) specifically on PEG access channels providing accessibility.
I've also heard about Effective Communication Requirements, what is that?
Included in Title II is the Effective Communications Requirement, which states that when a government communicates with the public, it must do it in a way as accessible to those with disabilities as it is to others. for example, providing a sign language interpreter, written materials, or closed captions for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
When choosing a method of accessible communication, the entity (in this case, the PEG access channel) is required to consider the form of communication requested by the person with a disability. However, the entity can also show that it provides an equally effective method.
Suppose the method of communication requested by the persons with disabilities would cause a fundamental alteration of the programming or result in an undue financial burden to the entity or PEG channel. In that case, the channel still has an obligation to provide some means of accessibility.
Are PEG channels able to claim exemption from the ADA requirements?
There isn't a clear answer as to whether PEG channels are exempt from the ADA.
On the one hand, PEG channels must use every resource available to provide communication access to the public for their programming. This requirement is not specific to only closed captions. This could also include a sign language interpreter, written materials, or other forms of communication that would provide equal access to anyone in the community.
On the other hand, if all available resources have been considered and providing accessible content would still result in undue financial burden, the entity could claim exemption by the reasonableness standard. Since many, but not every, PEG access channel has limited funding and financial resources, they could claim exemption from Title II.
How do we claim the exemption?
To claim exemption from ADA Title II compliance, a high-level official, no lower than a Department head, must make the decision and provide a written statement clearly stating the reasons for claiming exemption. Having this statement available and updated yearly is essential when claiming exemption from Title II.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act
The last thing to cover in this post is Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. This section generally does not apply to local governments. Instead, it applies to Federal Agencies. However, if your city is receiving federal aid, this mandate may apply to you. Section 508 requires that any video, including online streaming, include captions. Read more about Section 508.
What do I need to do next?
The main thing to focus on regarding ADA compliance is determining your options when providing effective communication to people with disabilities. Look at every possible resource, including, but not limited to, closed captions. Providing accessible programming and meeting the needs of the disabled community to the maximum extent possible is the goal.
If you have exhausted every resource and are still met with undue financial or administrative burden, prepare a written statement signed by a high-level official or Department head.
Our final post will wrap up this series about PEG access channel accessibility requirements, and act as a quick reference guide to all of the accessibility requirements we’ve covered.
- Caption Requirements for Public, Education and Government Channels
- ADA Compliance for Public, Educational and Government Access Channels (this post)
- Is Your PEG Channel Exempt From FCC and ADA Compliance?
Effective Communications Requirement: