ADA Compliance for Public, Educational and Government Access Channels

Posted by Kate Armelie on Jul 19, 2018 7:31:17 PM

Part 1 of this series, was about accessibility regulations for Public Educational and Government (PEG) Channels, focusing on what a PEG access channel is, and what the FCC requirements are for closed captioning. This post will cover what the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements are for closed captions regarding PEG access channels and what steps are necessary to take to qualify for exemption.

Article Series

  1. Caption Requirements for Public, Education and Government Channels
  2. ADA Compliance for Public, Educational and Government Access Channels (this post)
  3. Is Your PEG Channel Exempt From FCC and ADA Compliance?

First, does the ADA apply to PEG channels? How?

Yes, ADA regulations do apply to PEG channels. Specifically, ADA Title II. We are going to 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 granted to those with disabilities from discrimination in services, programs, and activities provided by the state and local governments. This includes any 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 to any state or local programs and services (such as providing 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 when a government communicates with the public they must do it in a way that is 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 take into consideration the method of communication requested by the person with a disability unless it can show that it provides an equally effective method.

If the method of communication requested by the persons with disabilities would cause a fundamental alteration of the programming or would result in an undue financial burden to the entity, or PEG channel, the channel still has the obligation to provide some means of accessibility.

Are PEG channels able to claim exemption from the ADA requirements?

There isn’t a really clear answer as to whether PEG channels are exempt from the ADA or not.

On one hand PEG channels must use every resource available to provide communication accessibility to the public for their programming. This 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 channels have limited funding and financial resources they could claim exemption from Title II.

How do we claim the exemption?

In order 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 important 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 generally does not apply to local governments, rather it applies to Federal Agencies. However, if your city is receiving federal aid, then this mandate may apply to you. Section 508 requires that any video, including online streamed video must include captions. Read more about Section 508.

What do I need to do next?

The main thing to focus on when it comes to 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, then prepare a written statement signed by a high level official, or Department head.

Up Next...

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.

Article Series

  1. Caption Requirements for Public, Education and Government Channels
  2. ADA Compliance for Public, Educational and Government Access Channels (this post)
  3. Is Your PEG Channel Exempt From FCC and ADA Compliance?

Topics: Closed Caption Requirements, PEG

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