45 CFR Appendix A to Part 84, Analysis of Final Regulation
Definitions - 1. “Recipient”. Section 84.23 contains definitions used throughout the regulation. Most of the comments concerning § 84.3(f), which contains the definition of “recipient,” commended the inclusion of recipient whose sole source of Federal financial assistance is Medicaid. The Secretary believes that such Medicaid providers should be regarded as recipients under the statute and the regulation and should be held individually responsible for administering services in a nondiscriminatory fashion. Accordingly, § 84.3(f) has not been changed. Small Medicaid providers, however, are exempt from some of the regulation's administrative provisions (those that apply to recipients with fifteen or more employees). And such recipients will be permitted to refer patients to accessible facilities in certain limited circumstances under revised § 84.22(b). The Secretary recognizes the difficulties involved in Federal enforcement of this regulation with respect to thousands of individual Medicaid providers. As in the case of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Office for Civil Rights will concentrate its compliance efforts on the state Medicaid agencies and will look primarily to them to ensure compliance by individual providers.
One other comment requested that the regulation specify that nonpublic elementary and secondary schools that are not otherwise recipients do not become recipients by virtue of the fact their students participate in certain federally funded programs. The Secretary believes it unnecessary to amend the regulation in this regard, because almost identical language in the Department's regulations implementing title VI and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 has consistently been interpreted so as not to render such schools recipients. These schools, however, are indirectly subject to the substantive requirements of this regulation through the application of § 84.4(b)(iv), which prohibits recipients from assisting agencies that discriminate on the basis of handicap in providing services to beneficiairies of the recipients' programs.
2. “Federal financial assistance”. In § 84.3(h), defining Federal financial assistance, a clarifying change has been made: procurement contracts are specifically excluded. They are covered, however, by the Department of Labor's regulation under section 503. The Department has never considered such contracts to be contracts of assistance; the explicit exemption has been added only to avoid possible confusion.
The proposed regulation's exemption of contracts of insurance or guaranty has been retained. A number of comments argued for its deletion on the ground that section 504, unlike title VI and title IX, contains no statutory exemption for such contracts. There is no indication, however, in the legislative history of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or of the amendments to that Act in 1974, that Congress intended section 504 to have a broader application, in terms of Federal financial assistance, than other civil rights statutes. Indeed, Congress directed that section 504 be implemented in the same manner as titles VI and IX. In view of the long established exemption of contracts of insurance or guaranty under title VI, we think it unlikely that Congress intended section 504 to apply to such contracts.
In its May 1976 Notice of Intent, the Department suggested that the arrangement under which individual practitioners, hospitals, and other facilities receive reimbursement for providing services to beneficiaries under Part B of title XVIII of the Social Security Act (Medicare) constitutes a contract of insurance or guaranty and thus falls within the exemption from the regulation. This explanation oversimplified the Department's view of whether Medicare Part B constitutes Federal financial assistance. The Department's position has consistently been that, whether or not Medicare Part B arrangements involve a contract of insurance or guaranty, no Federal financial assistance flows from the Department to the doctor or other practitioner under the program, since Medicare Part B - like other social security programs - is basically a program of payments to direct beneficiaries.
3. “Handicapped person”. Section 84.3(j), which defines the class of persons protected under the regulation, has not been substantially changed. The definition of handicapped person in paragraph (j)(1) conforms to the statutory definition of handicapped person that is applicable to section 504, as set forth in section 111(a) of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1974, Pub. L. 93-516.
The first of the three parts of the statutory and regulatory definition includes any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Paragraph (j)(2)(i) further defines physical or mental impairments. The definition does not set forth a list of specific diseases and conditions that constitute physical or mental impairments because of the difficulty of ensuring the comprehensiveness of any such list. The term includes, however, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, and, as discussed below, drug addiction and alcoholism.
It should be emphasized that a physical or mental impairment does not constitute a handicap for purposes of section 504 unless its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more major life activities. Several comments observed the lack of any definition in the proposed regulation of the phrase “substantially limits.” The Department does not believe that a definition of this term is possible at this time.
A related issue raised by several comments is whether the definition of handicapped person is unreasonably broad. Comments suggested narrowing the definition in various ways. the most common recommendation was that only “traditional” handicaps be covered. The Department continues to believe, however, that it has no flexibility within the statutory definition to limit the term to persons who have those severe, permanent, or progressive conditions that are most commonly regarded as handicaps. The Department intends, however, to give particular attention in its enforcement of section 504 to eliminating discrimination against persons with the severe handicaps that were the focus of concern in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
The definition of handicapped person also includes specific limitations on what persons are classified as handicapped under the regulation. The first of the three parts of the definition specifies that only physical and mental handicaps are included. Thus, environmental, cultural, and economic disadvantage are not in themselves covered; nor are prison records, age, or homosexuality. Of course, if a person who has any of these characteristics also has a physical or mental handicap, the person is included within the definition of handicapped person.
In paragraph (j)(2)(i), physical or mental impairment is defined to include, among other impairments, specific learning disabilities. The Department will interpret the term as it is used in section 602 of the Education of the Handicapped Act, as amended. Paragraph (15) of section 602 uses the term “specific learning disabilities” to describe such conditions as perceptual handicaps, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
Paragraph (j)(2)(i) has been shortened, but not substantively changed, by the deletion of clause (C), which made explicit the inclusion of any condition which is mental or physical but whose precise nature is not at present known. Clauses (A) and (B) clearly comprehend such conditions.
The second part of the statutory and regulatory definition of handicapped person includes any person who has a record of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. Under the definition of “record” in paragraph (j)(2)(iii), persons who have a history of a handicapping condition but no longer have the condition, as well as persons who have been incorrectly classified as having such a condition, are protected from discrimination under section 504. Frequently occurring examples of the first group are persons with histories of mental or emotional illness, heart disease, or cancer; of the second group, persons who have been misclassified as mentally retarded.
The third part of the statutory and regulatory definition of handicapped person includes any person who is regarded as having a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. It includes many persons who are ordinarily considered to be handicapped but who do not technically fall within the first two parts of the statutory definition, such as persons with a limp. This part of the definition also includes some persons who might not ordinarily be considered handicapped, such as persons with disfiguring scars, as well as persons who have no physical or mental impairment but are treated by a recipient as if they were handicapped.
4. Drug addicts and alcoholics. As was the case during the first comment period, the issue of whether to include drug addicts and alcoholics within the definition of handicapped person was of major concern to many commenters. The arguments presented on each side of the issue were similar during the two comment periods, as was the preference of commenters for exclusion of this group of persons. While some comments reflected misconceptions about the implications of including alcoholics and drug addicts within the scope of the regulation, the Secretary understands the concerns that underlie the comments on this question and recognizes that application of section 504 to active alcoholics and drug addicts presents sensitive and difficult questions that must be taken into account in interpretation and enforcement.
The Secretary has carefully examined the issue and has obtained a legal opinion from the Attorney General. That opinion concludes that drug addiction and alcoholism are “physical or mental impairments” within the meaning of section 7(6) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, and that drug addicts and alcoholics are therefore handicapped for purposes of section 504 if their impairment substantially limits one of their major life activities. The Secretary therefore believes that he is without authority to exclude these conditions from the definition. There is a medical and legal consensus that alcoholism and drug addiction are diseases, although there is disagreement as to whether they are primarily mental or physical. In addition, while Congress did not focus specifically on the problems of drug addiction and alcoholism in enacting section 504, the committees that considered the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 were made aware of the Department's long-standing practice of treating addicts and alcoholics as handicapped individuals eligible for rehabilitation services under the Vocational Rehabilitation Act.
The Secretary wishes to reassure recipients that inclusion of addicts and alcoholics within the scope of the regulation will not lead to the consequences feared by many commenters. It cannot be emphasized too strongly that the statute and the regulation apply only to discrimination against qualified handicapped persons solely by reason of their handicap. The fact that drug addiction and alcoholism may be handicaps does not mean that these conditions must be ignored in determining whether an individual is qualified for services or employment opportunities. On the contrary, a recipient may hold a drug addict or alcoholic to the same standard of performance and behavior to which it holds others, even if any unsatisfactory performance or behavior is related to the person's drug addiction or alcoholism. In other words, while an alcoholic or drug addict may not be denied services or disqualified from employment solely because of his or her condition, the behavioral manifestations of the condition may be taken into account in determining whether he or she is qualified.
With respect to the employment of a drug addict or alcoholic, if it can be shown that the addiction or alcoholism prevents successful performance of the job, the person need not be provided the employment opportunity in question. For example, in making employment decisions, a recipient may judge addicts and alcoholics on the same basis it judges all other applicants and employees. Thus, a recipient may consider - for all applicants including drug addicts and alcoholics - past personnel records, absenteeism, disruptive, abusive, or dangerous behavior, violations of rules and unsatisfactory work performance. Moreover, employers may enforce rules prohibiting the possession or use of alcohol or drugs in the work-place, provided that such rules are enforced against all employees.
With respect to services, there is evidence that drug addicts and alcoholics are often denied treatment at hospitals for conditions unrelated to their addiction or alcoholism. In addition, some addicts and alcoholics have been denied emergency treatment. These practices have been specifically prohibited by section 407 of the Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act of 1972 ( 21 U.S.C. 1174) and section 321 of the Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Act of 1970 ( 42 U.S.C. 4581), as amended. These statutory provisions are also administered by the Department's Office for Civil Rights and are implemented in § 84.53 of this regulation.
With respect to other services, the implications of coverage, of alcoholics and drug addicts are two-fold: first, no person may be excluded from services solely by reason of the presence or history of these conditions; second, to the extent that the manifestations of the condition prevent the person from meeting the basic eligibility requirements of the program or cause substantial interference with the operation of the program, the condition may be taken into consideration. Thus, a college may not exclude an addict or alcoholic as a student, on the basis of addiction or alcoholism, if the person can successfully participate in the education program and complies with the rules of the college and if his or her behavior does not impede the performance of other students.
Of great concern to many commenters was the question of what effect the inclusion of drug addicts and alcoholics as handicapped persons would have on school disciplinary rules prohibiting the use or possession of drugs or alcohol by students. Neither such rules nor their application to drug addicts or alcoholics is prohibited by this regulation, provided that the rules are enforced evenly with respect to all students.
5. “Qualified handicapped person.” Paragraph (k) of § 84.3 defines the term “qualified handicapped person.” Throughout the regulation, this term is used instead of the statutory term “otherwise qualified handicapped person.” The Department believes that the omission of the word “otherwise” is necessary in order to comport with the intent of the statute because, read literally, “otherwise” qualified handicapped persons include persons who are qualified except for their handicap, rather than in spite of their handicap. Under such a literal reading, a blind person possessing all the qualifications for driving a bus except sight could be said to be “otherwise qualified” for the job of driving. Clearly, such a result was not intended by Congress. In all other respects, the terms “qualified” and “otherwise qualified” are intended to be interchangeable.
Section 84.3(k)(1) defines a qualified handicapped person with respect to employment as a handicapped person who can, with reasonable accommodation, perform the essential functions of the job in question. The term “essential functions” does not appear in the corresponding provision of the Department of Labor's section 503 regulation, and a few commenters objected to its inclusion on the ground that a handicapped person should be able to perform all job tasks. However, the Department believes that inclusion of the phrase is useful in emphasizing that handicapped persons should not be disqualified simply because they may have difficulty in performing tasks that bear only a marginal relationship to a particular job. Further, we are convinced that inclusion of the phrase is not inconsistent with the Department of Labor's application of its definition.
Certain commenters urged that the definition of qualified handicapped person be amended so as explicitly to place upon the employer the burden of showing that a particular mental or physical characteristic is essential. Because the same result is achieved by the requirement contained in paragraph (a) of § 84.13, which requires an employer to establish that any selection criterion that tends to screen out handicapped persons is job-related, that recommendation has not been followed.
Section 84.3(k)(2) (formerly § 84.3(k)(3)) defines qualified handicapped person, with respect to preschool, elementary, and secondary programs, in terms of age. Several commenters recommended that eligibility for the services be based upon the standard of substantial benefit, rather than age, because of the need of many handicapped children for early or extended services if they are to have an equal opportunity to benefit from education programs. No change has been made in this provision, again because of the extreme difficulties in administration that would result from the choice of the former standard. Under the remedial action provisions of § 84.6(a)(3), however, persons beyond the age limits prescribed in § 84.3(k)(2) may in appropriate cases be required to be provided services that they were formerly denied because of a recipient's violation of section 504.
Section 84.3(k)(2) states that a handicapped person is qualified for preschool, elementary, or secondary services if the person is of an age at which nonhandicapped persons are eligible for such services or at which state law mandates the provision of educational services to handicapped persons. In addition, the extended age ranges for which recipients must provide full educational opportunity to all handicapped persons in order to be eligible for assistance under the Education of the Handicapped Act - generally, 3-18 as of September 1978, and 3-21 as of September 1980 are incorporated by reference in this paragraph.
Section 84.3(k)(3) formerly § 84.3(k)(2)) defines qualified handicapped person with respect to postsecondary educational programs. As revised, the paragraph means that both academic and technical standards must be met by applicants to these programs. The term “technical standards” refers to all nonacademic admissions criteria that are essential to participation in the program in question.
6. General prohibitions against discrimination. Section 84.4 contains general prohibitions against discrimination applicable to all recipients of assistance from this Department.
Paragraph (b)(1(i) prohibits the exclusion of qualified handicapped persons from aids, benefits, or services, and paragraph (ii) requires that equal opportunity to participate or benefit be provided. Paragraph (iii) requires that services provided to handicapped persons be as effective as those provided to the nonhandicapped. In paragraph (iv), different or separate services are prohibited except when necessary to provide equally effective benefits.
In this context, the term “equally effective,” defined in paragraph (b)(2), is intended to encompass the concept of equivalent, as opposed to identical, services and to acknowledge the fact that in order to meet the individual needs of handicapped persons to the same extent that the corresponding needs of nonhandicapped persons are met, adjustments to regular programs or the provision of different programs may sometimes be necessary. For example, a welfare office that uses the telephone for communicating with its clients must provide alternative modes of communicating with its deaf clients. This standard parallels the one established under title VI of Civil Rights Act of 1964 with respect to the provision of educational services to students whose primary language is not English. See Lau v. Nichols, 414 U.S. 563 (1974). To be equally effective, however, an aid, benefit, or service need not produce equal results; it merely must afford an equal opportunity to achieve equal results.
It must be emphasized that, although separate services must be required in some instances, the provision of unnecessarily separate or different services is discriminatory. The addition to paragraph (b)(2) of the phrase “in the most integrated setting appropriated to the person's needs” is intended to reinforce this general concept. A new paragraph (b)(3) has also been added to § 84.4, requiring recipients to give qualified handicapped persons the option of participating in regular programs despite the existence of permissibly separate or different programs. The requirement has been reiterated in §§ 84.38 and 84.47 in connection with physical education and athletics programs.
Section 84.4(b)(1)(v) prohibits a recipient from supporting another entity or person that subjects participants or employees in the recipient's program to discrimination on the basis of handicap. This section would, for example, prohibit financial support by a recipient to a community recreational group or to a professional or social organization that discriminates against handicapped persons. Among the criteria to be considered in each case are the substantiality of the relationship between the recipient and the other entity, including financial support by the recipient, and whether the other entity's activities relate so closely to the recipient's program or activity that they fairly should be considered activities of the recipient itself. Paragraph (b)(1)(vi) was added in response to comment in order to make explicit the prohibition against denying qualified handicapped persons the opportunity to serve on planning and advisory boards responsible for guiding federally assisted programs or activities.
Several comments appeared to interpret § 84.4(b)(5), which proscribes discriminatory site selection, to prohibit a recipient that is located on hilly terrain from erecting any new buildings at its present site. That, of course, is not the case. This paragraph is not intended to apply to construction of additional buildings at an existing site. Of course, any such facilities must be made accessible in accordance with the requirements of § 84.23.
7. Assurances of compliance. Section 84.5(a) requires a recipient to submit to the Director an assurance that each of its programs and activities receiving or benefiting from Federal financial assistance from this Department will be conducted in compliance with this regulation. To facilitate the submission of assurances by thousands of Medicaid providers, the Department will follow the title VI procedures of accepting, in lieu of assurances, certification on Medicaid vouchers. Many commenters also sought relief from the paperwork requirements imposed by the Department's enforcement of its various civil rights responsibilities by requesting the Department to issue one form incorporating title VI, title IX, and section 504 assurances. The Secretary is sympathetic to this request. While it is not feasible to adopt a single civil rights assurance form at this time, the Office for Civil Rights will work toward that goal.
8. Private rights of action. Several comments urged that the regulation incorporate provision granting beneficiaries a private right of action against recipients under section 504. To confer such a right is beyond the authority of the executive branch of Government. There is, however, case law holding that such a right exists. Lloyd v. Regional Transportation Authority, 548 F. 2d 1277 (7th Cir. 1977); see Hairston v. Drosick, Civil No. 75-0691 (S.D. W. Va., Jan. 14, 1976); Gurmankin v. Castanzo, 411 F. Supp. 982 (E.D. Pa. 1976); cf. Lau v. Nichols, supra.
9. Remedial action. Where there has been a finding of discrimination, § 84.6 requires a recipient to take remedial action to overcome the effects of the discrimination. Actions that might be required under paragraph (a)(1) include provision of services to persons previously discriminated against, reinstatement of employees and development of a remedial action plan. Should a recipient fail to take required remedial action, the ultimate sanctions of court action or termination of Federal financial assistance may be imposed.
Paragraph (a)(2) extends the responsibility for taking remedial action to a recipient that exercises control over a noncomplying recipient. Paragraph (a)(3) also makes clear that handicapped persons who are not in the program at the time that remedial action is required to be taken may also be the subject of such remedial action. This paragraph has been revised in response to comments in order to include persons who would have been in the program if discriminatory practices had not existed. Paragraphs (a) (1), (2), and (3) have also been amended in response to comments to make plain that, in appropriate cases, remedial action might be required to redress clear violations of the statute itself that occurred before the effective date of this regulation.
10. Voluntary action. In § 84.6(b), the term “voluntary action” has been substituted for the term “affirmative action” because the use of the latter term led to some confusion. We believe the term “voluntary action” more accurately reflects the purpose of the paragraph. This provision allows action, beyond that required by the regulation, to overcome conditions that led to limited participation by handicapped persons, whether or not the limited participation was caused by any discriminatory actions on the part of the recipient. Several commenters urged that paragraphs (a) and (b) be revised to require remedial action to overcome effects of prior discriminatory practices regardless of whether there has been an express finding of discrimination. The self-evaluation requirement in paragraph (c) accomplishes much the same purpose.
11. Self-evaluation. Paragraph (c) requires recipients to conduct a self-evaluation in order to determine whether their policies or practices may discriminate against handicapped persons and to take steps to modify any discriminatory policies and practices and their effects. The Department received many comments approving of the addition to paragraph (c) of a requirement that recipients seek the assistance of handicapped persons in the self-evaluation process. This paragraph has been further amended to require consultation with handicapped persons or organizations representing them before recipients undertake the policy modifications and remedial steps prescribed in paragraphs (c)(1)(ii) and (iii).
Paragraph (c)(2), which sets forth the recordkeeping requirements concerning self-evaluation, now applies only to recipients with fifteen or more employees. This change was made as part of an effort to reduce unnecessary or counterproductive administrative obligations on small recipients. For those recipients required to keep records, the requirements have been made more specific; records must include a list of persons consulted and a description of areas examined, problems identified, and corrective steps taken. Moreover, the records must be made available for public inspection.
12. Grievance procedure. Section 84.7 (formerly § 84.8) requires recipients with fifteen or more employees to designate an individual responsible for coordinating its compliance efforts and to adopt a grievance procedure. Two changes were made in the section in response to comment. A general requirement that appropriate due process procedures be followed has been added. It was decided that the details of such procedures could not at this time be specified because of the varied nature of the persons and entities who must establish the procedures and of the programs to which they apply. A sentence was also added to make clear that grievance procedures are not required to be made available to unsuccessful applicants for employment or to applicants for admission to colleges and universities.
The regulation does not require that grievance procedures be exhausted before recourse is sought from the Department. However, the Secretary believes that it is desirable and efficient in many cases for complainants to seek resolution of their complaints and disputes at the local level and therefore encourages them to use available grievance procedures.
A number of comments asked whether compliance with this section or the notice requirements of § 84.8 could be coordinated with comparable action required by the title IX regulation. The Department encourages such efforts.
It is important that both handicapped persons and the public at large be aware of the obligations of recipients under section 504. Both the Department and recipients have responsibilities in this regard. Indeed the Department intends to undertake a major public information effort to inform persons of their rights under section 504 and this regulation. In § 84.8 the Department has sought to impose a clear obligation on major recipients to notify beneficiaries and employees of the requirements of section 504, without dictating the precise way in which this notice must be given. At the same time, we have avoided imposing requirements on small recipients (those with fewer than fifteen employees) that would create unnecessary and counterproductive paper work burdens on them and unduly stretch the enforcement resources of the Department.
Section 84.8(a), as simplified, requires recipients with fifteen or more employees to take appropriate steps to notify beneficiaries and employees of the recipient's obligations under section 504. The last sentence of § 84.8(a) has been revised to list possible, rather than required, means of notification. Section 84.8(b) requires recipients to include a notification of their policy of nondiscrimination in recruitment and other general information materials.
In response to a number of comments, § 84.8 has been revised to delete the requirements of publication in local newspapers, which has proved to be both troublesome and ineffective. Several commenters suggested that notification on separate forms be allowed until present stocks of publications and forms are depleted. The final regulation explicitly allows this method of compliance. The separate form should, however, be included with each significant publication or form that is distributed.
Former § 84.9(b)(2), which prohibited the use of materials that might give the impression that a recipient excludes qualified handicapped persons from its program, has been deleted. The Department is convinced by the comments that this provision is unnecessary and difficult to apply. The Department encourages recipients, however, to include in their recruitment and other general information materials photographs of handicapped persons and ramps and other features of accessible buildings.
Under new § 84.9 the Director may, under certain circumstances, require recipients with fewer than fifteen employees to comply with one or more of these requirements. Thus, if experience shows a need for imposing notice or other requirements on particular recipients or classes of small recipients, the Department is prepared to expand the coverage of these sections.
14. Inconsistent State laws. Section 84.10(a) states that compliance with the regulation is not excused by state or local laws limiting the eligibility of qualified handicapped persons to receive services or to practice an occupation. The provision thus applies only with respect to state or local laws that unjustifiably differentiate on the basis of handicap.
Paragraph (b) further points out that the presence of limited employment opportunities in a particular profession, does not excuse a recipient from complying with the regulation. Thus, a law school could not deny admission to a blind applicant because blind laywers may find it more difficult to find jobs that do nonhandicapped lawyers.
Subpart B prescribes requirements for nondiscrimination in the employment practices of recipients of Federal financial assistance administered by the Department. This subpart is consistent with the employment provisions of the Department's regulation implementing title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ( 45 CFR part 86) and the regulation of the Department of Labor under section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act, which requries certain Federal contractors to take affirmative action in the employment and advancement of qualified handicapped persons. All recipients subject to title IX are also subject to this regulation. In addition, many recipients subject to this regulation receive Federal procurement contracts in excess of $2,500 and are therefore also subject to section 503.
15. Discriminatory practices. Section 84.11 sets forth general provisions with respect to discrimination in employment. A new paragraph (a)(2) has been added to clarify the employment obligations of recipients that receive Federal funds under Part B of the Education of the Handicapped Act, as amended (EHA). Section 606 of the EHA obligates elementary or secondary school systems that receive EHA funds to take positive steps to employ and advance in employment qualified handicapped persons. This obligation is similar to the nondiscrimination requirement of section 504 but requires recipients to take additional steps to hire and promote handicapped persons. In enacting section 606 Congress chose the words “positive steps” instead of “affirmative action” advisedly and did not intend section 606 to incorporate the types of activities required under Executive Order 11246 (affirmative action on the basis of race, color, sex, or national origin) or under sections 501 and 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Paragraph (b) of § 84.11 sets forth the specific aspects of employment covered by the regulation. Paragraph (c) provides that inconsistent provisions of collective bargaining agreements do not excuse noncompliance.
16. Reasonable accommodation. The reasonable accommodation requirement of § 84.12 generated a substantial number of comments. The Department remains convinced that its approach is both fair and effective. Moreover, the Department of Labor reports that it has experienced little difficulty in administering the requirements of reasonable accommodation. The provision therefore remains basically unchanged from the proposed regulation.
Section 84.12 requires a recipient to make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of a handicapped applicant or employee unless the recipient can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of its program. Where a handicapped person is not qualified to perform a particular job, where reasonable accommodation does not overcome the effects of a person's handicap, or where reasonable accommodation causes undue hardship to the employer, failure to hire or promote the handicapped person will not be considered discrimination.
Section 84.12(b) lists some of the actions that constitute reasonable accommodation. The list is neither all-inclusive nor meant to suggest that employers must follow all of the actions listed.
Reasonable accommodation includes modification of work schedules, including part-time employment, and job restructuring. Job restructuring may entail shifting nonessential duties to other employees. In other cases, reasonable accommodation may include physical modifications or relocation of particular offices or jobs so that they are in facilities or parts of facilities that are accessible to and usable by handicapped persons. If such accommodations would cause undue hardship to the employer, they need not be made.
Paragraph (c) of this section sets forth the factors that the Office for Civil Rights will consider in determining whether an accommodation necessary to enable an applicant or employee to perform the duties of a job would impose an undue hardship. The weight given to each of these factors in making the determination as to whether an accommodation constitutes undue hardship will vary depending on the facts of a particular situation. Thus, a small day-care center might not be required to expend more than a nominal sum, such as that necessary to equip a telephone for use by a secretary with impaired hearing, but a large school district might be required to make available a teacher's aide to a blind applicant for a teaching job. Further, it might be considered reasonable to require a state welfare agency to accommodate a deaf employee by providing an interpreter, while it would constitute an undue hardship to impose that requirement on a provider of foster home care services. The reasonable accommodation standard in § 84.12 is similar to the obligation imposed upon Federal contractors in the regulation implementing section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, administered by the Department of Labor. Although the wording of the reasonable accommodation provisions of the two regulations is not identical, the obligation that the two regulations impose is the same, and the Federal Government's policy in implementing the two sections will be uniform. The Department adopted the factors listed in paragraph (c) instead of the “business necessity” standard of the Labor regulation because that term seemed inappropriate to the nature of the programs operated by the majority of institutions subject to this regulation, e.g., public school systems, hospitals, colleges and universities, nursing homes, day-care centers, and welfare offices. The factors listed in paragraph (c) are intended to make the rationale underlying the business necessity standard applicable to an understandable by recipients of HHS funds.
17. Tests and selection criteria. Revised § 84.13(a) prohibits employers from using test or other selection criteria that screen out or tend to screen out handicapped persons unless the test or criterion is shown to be job-related and alternative tests or criteria that do not screen out or tend to screen out as many handicapped persons are not shown by the Director to be available. This paragraph is an application of the principle established under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in Griggs v. Duke Power Company, 401 U.S. 424 (1971).
Under the proposed section, a statistical showing of adverse impact on handicapped persons was required to trigger an employer's obligation to show that employment criteria and qualifications relating to handicap were necessary. This requirement was changed because the small number of handicapped persons taking tests would make statistical showings of “disproportionate, adverse effect” difficult and burdensome. Under the altered, more workable provision, once it is shown that an employment test substantially limits the opportunities of handicapped persons, the employer must show the test to be job-related. A recipient is no longer limited to using predictive validity studies as the method for demonstrating that a test or other selection criterion is in fact job-related. Nor, in all cases, are predictive validity studies sufficient to demonstrate that a test or criterion is job-related. In addition, § 84.13(a) has been revised to place the burden on the Director, rather than the recipient, to identify alternate tests.
Section 84.13(b) requires that a recipient take into account that some tests and criteria depend upon sensory, manual, or speaking skills that may not themselves be necessary to the job in question but that may make the handicapped person unable to pass the test. The recipient must select and administer tests so as best to ensure that the test will measure the handicapped person's ability to perform on the job rather than the person's ability to see, hear, speak, or perform manual tasks, except, of course, where such skills are the factors that the test purports to measure. For example, a person with a speech impediment may be perfectly qualified for jobs that do not or need not, with reasonable accommodation, require ability to speak clearly. Yet, if given an oral test, the person will be unable to perform in a satisfactory manner. The test results will not, therefore, predict job performance but instead will reflect impaired speech.
18. Preemployment inquiries. Section 84.14, concerning preemployment inquiries, generated a large number of comments. Commenters representing handicapped persons strongly favored a ban on preemployment inquiries on the ground that such inquiries are often used to discriminate against handicapped persons and are not necessary to serve any legitimate interests of employers. Some recipients, on the other hand, argued that preemployment inquiries are necessary to determine qualifications of the applicant, safety hazards caused by a particular handicapping condition, and accommodations that might required.
The Secretary has concluded that a general prohibition of preemployment inquiries is appropriate. However, a sentence has been added to paragraph (a) to make clear that an employer may inquire into an applicant's ability to perform job-related tasks but may not ask if the person has a handicap. For example, an employer may not ask on an employment form if an applicant is visually impaired but may ask if the person has a current driver's license (if that is a necessary qualification for the position in question). Similarly, employers may make inquiries about an applicant's ability to perform a job safely. Thus, an employer may not ask if an applicant is an epileptic but may ask whether the person can perform a particular job without endangering other employees.
Section 84.14(B) allows preemployment inquiries only if they are made in conjunction with required remedial action to correct past discrimination, with voluntary action to overcome past conditions that have limited the participation of handicapped persons, or with obligations under section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. In these instances, paragraph (b) specifies certain safeguards that must be followed by the employer.
Finally, the revised provision allows an employer to condition offers of employment to handicapped persons on the results of medical examinations, so long as the examinations are administered to all employees in a nondiscriminatory manner and the results are treated on a confidential basis.
19. Specific acts of Discrimination. Sections 84.15 (recruitment), 84.16 (compensation), 84.17 (job classification and structure) and 84.18 (fringe benefits) have been deleted from the regulation as unnecessarily duplicative of § 84.11 (discrimination prohibited). The deletion of these sections in no way changes the substantive obligations of employers subject to this regulation from those set forth in the July 16 proposed regulation. These deletions bring the regulation closer in form to the Department of Labor's section 503 regulation.
Proposed § 84.18, concerning fringe benefits, had allowed for differences in benefits or contributions between handicapped and nonhandicapped persons in situations only where such differences could be justified on an actuarial basis. Section 84.11 simply bars discrimination in providing fringe benefits and does not address the issue of actuarial differences. The Department believes that currently available data and experience do not demonstrate a basis for promulgating a regulation specifically allowing for differences in benefits or contributions.
In general, subpart C prohibits the exclusion of qualified handicapped persons from federally assisted programs or activities because a recipient's facilities are inaccessible or unusable.
20. Existing facilities. Section 84.22 maintains the same standard for nondiscrimination in regard to existing facilities as was included in the proposed regulation. The section states that a recipient's program or activity, when viewed in its entirety, must be readily accessible to and usable by handicapped persons. Paragraphs (a) and (b) make clear that a recipient is not required to make each of its existing facilities accessible to handicapped persons if its program as a whole is accessible. Accessibility to the recipient's program or activity may be achieved by a number of means, including redesign of equipment, reassignment of classes or other services to accessible buildings, and making aides available to beneficiaries. In choosing among methods of compliance, recipients are required to give priority consideration to methods that will be consistent with provision of services in the most appropriate integrated setting. Structural changes in existing facilities are required only where there is no other feasible way to make the recipient's program accessible.
Under § 84.22, a university does not have to make all of its existing classroom buildings accessible to handicapped students if some of its buildings are already accessible and if it is possible to reschedule or relocate enough classes so as to offer all required courses and a reasonable selection of elective courses in accessible facilities. If sufficient relocation of classes is not possible using existing facilities, enough alterations to ensure program accessibility are required. A university may not exclude a handicapped student from a specifically requested course offering because it is not offered in an accessible location, but it need not make every section of that course accessible.
Commenters representing several institutions of higher education have suggested that it would be appropriate for one postsecondary institution in a geographical area to be made accessible to handicapped persons and for other colleges and universities in that area to participate in that school's program, thereby developing an educational consortium for the postsecondary education of handicapped students. The Department believes that such a consortium, when developed and applied only to handicapped persons, would not constitute compliance with § 84.22, but would discriminate against qualified handicapped persons by restricting their choice in selecting institutions of higher education and would, therefore, be inconsistent with the basic objectives of the statute.
Nothing in this regulation, however, should be read as prohibiting institutions from forming consortia for the benefit of all students. Thus, if three colleges decide that it would be cost-efficient for one college to offer biology, the second physics, and the third chemistry to all students at the three colleges, the arrangement would not violate section 504. On the other hand, it would violate the regulation if the same institutions set up a consortium under which one college undertook to make its biology lab accessible, another its physics lab, and a third its chemistry lab, and under which mobility-impaired handicapped students (but not other students) were required to attend the particular college that is accessible for the desired courses.
Similarly, while a public school district need not make each of its buildings completely accessible, it may not make only one facility or part of a facility accessible if the result is to segregate handicapped students in a single setting.
All recipients that proivde health, welfare, or other social services may also comply with § 84.22 by delivering services at alternate accessible sites or making home visits. Thus, for example, a pharmacist might arrange to make home deliveries of drugs. Under revised § 84.22(c), small providers of health, welfare, and social services (those with fewer than fifteen employees) may refer a beneficiary to an accessible provider of the desired service, but only if no means of meeting the program accessibility requirement other than a significant alteration in existing facilties is available. The referring recipient has the responsibility of determining that the other provider is in fact accessible and willing to provide the service. The Secretary believes this “last resort” referral provision is appropriate to avoid imposition of additional costs in the health care area, to encourage providers to remain in the Medicaid program, and to avoid imposing significant costs on small, low-budget providers such as day-care centers or foster homes.
A recent change in the tax law may assist some recipients in meeting their obligations under this section. Under section 2122 of the Tax Reform Act of 1976, recipients that pay federal income tax are eligible to claim a tax deduction of up to $25,000 for architectural and transportation modifications made to improve accessibility for handicapped persons. Many physicians and dentists, among others, may be eligible for this tax deduction. See 42 FR 17870 (April 4, 1977), adopting 26 CFR 7.190.
Several commenters expressed concern about the feasibility of compliance with the program accessibility standard. The Secretary believes that the standard is flexible enough to permit recipients to devise ways to make their programs accessible short of extremely expensive or impractical physical changes in facilities. Accordingly, the section does not allow for waivers. The Department is ready at all times to provide technical assistance to recipients in meeting their program accessibility responsibilities. For this purpose, the Department is establishing a special technical assistance unit. Recipients are encouraged to call upon the unit staff for advice and guidance both on structural modifications and on other ways of meeting the program accessibility requirement.
Paragraph (d) has been amended to require recipients to make all nonstructural adjustments necessary for meeting the program accessibility standard within sixty days. Only where structural changes in facilities are necessary will a recipient be permitted up to three years to accomplish program accessibility. It should be emphasized that the three-year time period is not a waiting period and that all changes must be accomplished as expeditiously as possible. Further, it is the Department's belief, after consultation with experts in the field, that outside ramps to buildings can be constructed quickly and at relatively low cost. Therefore, it will be expected that such structural additions will be made promptly to comply with § 84.22(d).
The regulation continues to provide, as did the proposed version, that a recipient planning to achieve program accessibility by making structural changes must develop a transition plan for such changes within six months of the effective date of the regulation. A number of commenters suggested extending that period to one year. The secretary believes that such an extension is unnecessary and unwise. Planning for any necessary structural changes should be undertaken promptly to ensure that they can be completed within the three-year period. The elements of the transition plan as required by the regulation remain virtually unchanged from the proposal but § 84.22(d) now includes a requirement that the recipient make the plan available for public inspection.
Several commenters expressed concern that the program accessibility standard would result in the segregation of handicapped persons in educational institutions. The regulation will not be applied to permit such a result. See § 84.4(c)(2)(iv), prohibiting unnecessarily separate treatment; § 84.35, requiring that students in elementary and secondary schools be educated in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs; and new § 84.43(d), applying the same standard to postsecondary education.
We have received some comments from organizations of handicapped persons on the subject of requiring, over an extended period of time, a barrier-free environment - that is, requiring the removal of all architectural barriers in existing facilities. The Department has considered these comments but has decided to take no further action at this time concerning these suggestions, believing that such action should only be considered in light of experience in implementing the program accessibility standard.
21. New construction. Section 84.23 requires that all new facilities, as well as alterations that could affect access to and use of existing facilities, be designed and constructed in a manner so as to make the facility accessible to and usable by handicapped persons. Section 84.23(a) has been amended so that it applies to each newly constructed facility if the construction was commenced after the effective date of the regulation. The words “if construction has commenced” will be considered to mean “if groundbreaking has takenplace.” Thus, a recipient will not be required to alter the design of a facility that has progressed beyond groundbreaking prior to the effective date of the regulation.
Paragraph (b) requires certain alterations to conform to the requirement of physical accessibility in paragraph (a). If an alteration is undertaken to a portion of a building the accessibility of which could be improved by the manner in which the alteration is carried out, the alteration must be made in that manner. Thus, if a doorway or wall is being altered, the door or other wall opening must be made wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. On the other hand, if the alteration consists of altering ceilings, the provisions of this section are not applicable because this alteration cannot be done in a way that affects the accessibility of that portion of the building. The phrase “to the maximum extent feasible” has been added to allow for the occasional case in which the nature of an existing facility is such as to make it impractical or prohibitively expensive to renovate the building in a manner that results in its being entirely barrier-free. In all such cases, however, the alteration should provide the maximum amount of physical accessibility feasible.
As proposed, § 84.23(c) required compliance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard on building accessibility as the minimum necessary for compliance with the accessibility requirement of § 84.23 (a) and (b). The regerence to the ANSI standard created some ambiguity, since the standard itself provides for waivers where other methods are equally effective in providing accessibility to the facility. Moreover, the Secretary does not wish to discourage innovation in barrier-free construction by requiring absolute adherence to a rigid design standard. Accordingly, § 84.23 (c) has been revised to permit departures from particular requirements of the ANSI standard where the recipient can demonstrate that equivalent access to the facility is provided.
Section 84.23(d) of the proposed regulation, providing for a limited deferral of action concerning facilities that are subject to section 502 as well as section 504 of the Act, has been deleted. The Secretary believes that the provision is unnecessary and inappropriate to this regulation. The Department will, however, seek to coordinate enforcement activities under this regulation with those of the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.
Subpart D sets forth requirements for nondiscrimination in preschool, elementary, secondary, and adult education programs and activities, including secondary vocational education programs. In this context, the term “adult education” refers only to those educational programs and activities for adults that are operated by elementary and secondary schools.
The provisions of Subpart D apply to state and local educational agencies. Although the subpart applies, in general, to both public and private education programs and activities that are federally assisted, §§ 84.32 and 84.33 apply only to public programs and § 84.39 applies only to private programs; §§ 84.35 and 84.36 apply both to public programs and to those private programs that include special services for handicapped students.
Subpart B generally conforms to the standards established for the education of handicapped persons in Mills v. Board of Education of the District of Columbia, 348 F. Supp. 866 (D.D.C. 1972), Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 344 F. Supp. 1257 (E.D. 1971), 343 F. Supp. 279 (E.D. Pa. 1972), and Lebanks v. Spears, 60, F.R.D. 135 (E.D. La. 1973), as well as in the Education of the Handicapped Act, as amended by Pub. L. 94-142 (the EHA).
The basic requirements common to those cases, to the EHA, and to this regulation are (1) that handicapped persons, regardless of the nature or severity of their handicap, be provided a free appropriate public education, (2) that handicapped students be educated with nonhandicapped students to the maximum extent appropriate to their needs, (3) that educational agencies undertake to identify and locate all unserved handicapped children, (4) that evaluation procedures be improved in order to avoid the inappropriate education that results from the misclassification of students, and (5) that procedural safeguard be established to enable parents and guardians to influence decisions regarding the evaluation and placement of their children. These requirements are designed to ensure that no handicapped child is excluded from school on the basis of handicap and, if a recipient demonstrates that placement in a regular educational setting cannot be achieved satisfactorily, that the student is provided with adequate alternative services suited to the student's needs without additional cost to the student's parents or guardian. Thus, a recipient that operates a public school system must either educate handicapped children in its regular program or provide such children with an appropriate alternative education at public expense.
It is not the intention of the Department, except in extraordinary circumstances, to review the result of individual placement and other educational decisions, so long as the school district complies with the “process” requirements of this subpart (concerning identification and location, evaluation, and due process procedures). However, the Department will place a high priority on investigating cases which may involve exclusion of a child from the education system or a pattern or practice of discriminatory placements or education.
22. Location and notification. Section 84.32 requires public schools to take steps annually to identify and locate handicapped children who are not receiving an education and to publicize to handicapped children and their parents the rights and duties established by section 504 and this regulation. This section has been shortened without substantive change.
23. Free appropriate public education. Former §§ 84.34 (“Free education”) and 84.36(a) (“Suitable education”) have been consolidated and revised in new § 84.33. Under § 84.34(a), a recipient is responsible for providing a free appropriate public education to each qualified handicapped person who is in the recipient's jurisdiction. The word “in” encompasses the concepts of both domicile and actual residence. If a recipient places a child in a program other than its own, it remains financially responsible for the child, whether or not the other program is operated by another recipient or educational agency. Moreover, a recipient may not place a child in a program that is inappropriate or that otherwise violates the requirements of Subpart D. And in no case may a recipient refuse to provide services to a handicapped child in its jurisdiction because of another person's or entity's failure to assume financial responsibility.
Section 84.33(b) concerns the provision of appropriate educational services to handicapped children. To be appropriate, such services must be designed to meet handicapped children's individual educational needs to the same extent that those of nonhandicapped children are met. An appropriate education could consist of education in regular classes, education in regular classes with the use of supplementary services, or special education and related services. Special education may include specially designed instruction in classrooms, at home, or in private or public institutions and may be accompanied by such related services as developmental, corrective, and other supportive services (including psychological, counseling, and medical diagnostic services). The placement of the child must however, be consistent with the requirements of § 84.34 and be suited to his or her educational needs.
The quality of the educational services provided to handicapped students must equal that of the services provided to nonhandicapped students; thus, handicapped student's teachers must be trained in the instruction of persons with the handicap in question and appropriate materials and equipment must be available. The Department is aware that the supply of adequately trained teachers may, at least at the outset of the imposition of this requirement, be insufficient to meet the demand of all recipients. This factor will be considered in determining the appropriateness of the remedy for noncompliance with this section. A new § 84.33(b)(2) has been added, which allows this requirement to be met through the full implementation of an individualized education program developed in accordance with the standards of the EHA.
Paragraph (c) of § 84.33 sets forth the specific financial obligations of a recipient. If a recipient does not itself provide handicapped persons with the requisite services, it must assume the cost of any alternate placement. If, however, a recipient offers adequate services and if alternate placement is chosen by a student's parent or guardian, the recipient need not assume the cost of the outside services. (If the parent or guardian believes that his or her child cannot be suitably educated in the recipient's program, he or she may make use of the procedures established in § 84.36.) Under this paragraph, a recipient's obligation extends beyond the provision of tuition payments in the case of placement outside the regular program. Adequate transportation must also be provided. Recipients must also pay for psychological services and those medical services necessary for diagnostic and evaluative purposes.
If the recipient places a student, because of his or her handicap, in a program that necessitates his or her being away from home, the payments must also cover room and board and nonmedical care (including custodial and supervisory care). When residential care is necessitated not by the student's handicap but by factors such as the student's home conditions, the recipient is not required to pay the cost of room and board.
Two new sentences have been added to paragraph (c)(1) to make clear that a recipient's financial obligations need not be met solely through its own funds. Recipients may rely on funds from any public or private source including insurers and similar third parties.
The EHA requires a free appropriate education to be provided to handicapped children “no later than September 1, 1978,” but section 504 contains no authority for delaying enforcement. To resolve this problem, a new paragraph (d) has been added to § 84.33. Section 84.33(d) requires recipients to achieve full compliance with the free appropriate public education requirements of § 84.33 as expeditiously as possible, but in no event later than September 1, 1978. The provision also makes clear that, as of the effective date of this regulation, no recipient may exclude a qualified handicapped child from its educational program. This provision against exclusion is consistent with the order of providing services set forth in section 612(3) of the EHA, which places the highest priority on providing services to handicapped children who are not receiving an education.
24. Educational setting. Section 84.34 prescribes standards for educating handicapped persons with nonhandicapped persons to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the handicapped person in question. A handicapped student may be removed from the regular educational setting only where the recipient can show that the needs of the student would, on balance, be served by placement in another setting.
Although under § 84.34, the needs of the handicapped person are determinative as to proper placement, it should be stressed that, where a handicapped student is so disruptive in a regular classroom that the education of other students is significantly impaired, the needs of the handicapped child cannot be met in that environment. Therefore, regular placement would not be appropriate to his or her needs and would not be required by § 84.34.
Among the factors to be considered in placing a child is the need to place the child as close to home as possible. A new sentence has been added to paragraph (a) requiring recipients to take this factor into account. As pointed out in several comments, the parents' right under § 84.36 to challenge the placement of their child extends not only to placement in special classes or separate schools but also to placement in a distant school and, in particular, to residential placement. An equally appropriate educational program may exist closer to home; this issue may be raised by the parent or guardian under §§ 84.34 and 84.36.
New paragraph (b) specified that handicapped children must also be provided nonacademic services in as integrated a setting as possible. This requirement is especially important for children whose educational needs necessitate their being solely with other handicapped children during most of each day. To the maximum extent appropriate, children in residential settings are also to be provided opportunities for participation with other children.
Section 84.34(c) (formerly § 84.38) requires that any facilities that are identifiable as being for handicapped students be comparable in quality to other facilities of the recipient. A number of comments objected to this section on the basis that it encourages the creation and maintenance of such facilities. This is not the intent of the provision. A separate facility violates section 504 unless it is indeed necessary to the provision of an appropriate education to certain handicapped students. In those instances in which such facilities are necessary (as might be the case, for example, for severely retarded persons), this provision requires that the educational services provided be comparable to those provided in the facilities of the recipient that are not identifiable as being for handicapped persons.
25. Evaluation and placement. Because the failure to provide handicapped persons with an appropriate education is so frequently the result of misclassification or misplacement, § 84.33(b)(1) makes compliance with its provisions contingent upon adherence to certain procedures designed to ensure appropriate classification and placement. These procedures, delineated in §§ 84.35 and 84.36, are concerned with testing and other evaluation methods and with procedural due process rights.
Section 84.35(a) requires that an individual evaluation be conducted before any action is taken with respect either to the initial placement of a handicapped child in a regular or special education program or to any subsequent significant change in that placement. Thus, a full reevaluation is not required every time an adjustment in placement is made. “Any action” includes denials of placement.
Paragraphs (b) and (c) of § 84.35 establishes procedures designed to ensure that children are not misclassified, unnecessarily labeled as being handicapped, or incorrectly placed because of inappropriate selection, administration, or interpretation of evaluation materials. This problem has been extensively documented in “Issues in the Classification of Children,” a report by the Project on Classification of Exceptional Children, in which the HHS Interagency Task Force participated. The provisions of these paragraphs are aimed primarily at abuses in the placement process that result from misuse of, or undue or misplaced reliance on, standardized scholastic aptitude tests.
Paragraph (b) has been shortened but not substantively changed. The requirement in former subparagraph (1) that recipients provide and administer evaluation materials in the native language of the student has been deleted as unnecessary, since the same requirement already exists under title VI and is more appropriately covered under that statute. Subparagraphs (1) and (2) are, in general, intended to prevent misinterpretation and similar misuse of test scores and, in particular, to avoid undue reliance on general intelligence tests. Subparagraph (3) requires a recipient to administer tests to a student with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills in whatever manner is necessary to avoid distortion of the test results by the impairment. Former subparagraph (4) has been deleted as unnecessarily repetitive of the other provisions of this paragraph.
Paragraph (c) requires a recipient to draw upon a variety of sources in the evaluation process so that the possibility of error in classification is minimized. In particular, it requires that all significant factors relating to the learning process, including adaptive behavior, be considered. (Adaptive behavior is the effectiveness with which the individual meets the standards of personal independence and social responsibility expected of his or her age and cultural group.) Information from all sources must be documented and considered by a group of persons, and the procedure must ensure that the child is placed in the most integrated setting appropriate.
The proposed regulation would have required a complete individual reevaluation of the student each year. The Department has concluded that it is inappropriate in the section 504 regulation to require full reevaluations on such a rigid schedule. Accordingly, § 84.35(c) requires periodic reevaluations and specifies that reevaluations in accordance with the EHA will constitute compliance. The proposed regulation implementing the EHA allows reevaluation at three-year intervals except under certain specified circumstances.
Under § 84.36, a recipient must establish a system of due process procedures to be afforded to parents or guardians before the recipient takes any action regarding the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a person who, because of handicap, needs or is believed to need special education or related services. This section has been revised. Because the due process procedures of the EHA, incorporated by reference in the proposed section 504 regulation, are inappropriate for some recipients not subject to that Act, the section now specifies minimum necessary procedures: notice, a right to inspect records, an impartial hearing with a right to representation by counsel, and a review procedure. The EHA procedures remain one means of meeting the regulation's due process requirements, however, and are recommended to recipients as a model.
26. Nonacademic services. Section 84.37 requires a recipient to provide nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities in such manner as is necessary to afford handicapped students an equal opportunity for participation. Because these services and activities are part of a recipient's education program, they must, in accordance with the provisions of § 84.34, be provided in the most integrated setting appropriate.
Revised paragraph (c)(2) does permit separation or differentiation with respect to the provision of physical education and athletics activities, but only if qualified handicapped students are also allowed the opportunity to compete for regular teams or participate in regular activities. Most handicapped students are able to participate in one or more regular physical education and athletics activities. For example, a student in a wheelchair can participate in regular archery course, as can a deaf student in a wrestling course.
Finally, the one-year transition period provided in former § 84.37(a)(3) was deleted in response to the almost unanimous objection of commenters to that provision.
27. Preschool and adult education. Section 84.38 prohibits discrimination on the basis of handicap in preschool and adult education programs. Former paragraph (b), which emphasized that compensatory programs for disadvantaged children are subject to section 504, has been deleted as unnecessary, since it is comprehended by paragraph (a).
28. Private education. Section 84.39 sets forth the requirements applicable to recipients that operate private education programs and activities. The obligations of these recipients have been changed in two significant respects: First, private schools are subject to the evaluation and due process provisions of the subpart only if they operate special education programs; second, under § 84.39(b), they may charge more for providing services to handicapped students than to nonhandicapped students to the extent that additional charges can be justified by increased costs.
Paragraph (a) of § 84.39 is intended to make clear that recipients that operate private education programs and activities are not required to provide an appropriate education to handicapped students with special educational needs if the recipient does not offer programs designed to meet those needs. Thus, a private school that has no program for mentally retarded persons is neither required to admit such a person into its program nor to arrange or pay for the provision of the person's education in another program. A private recipient without a special program for blind students, however, would not be permitted to exclude, on the basis of blindness, a blind applicant who is able to participate in the regular program with minor adjustments in the manner in which the program is normally offered.
Subpart E prescribes requirements for nondiscrimination in recruitment, admission, and treatment of students in postsecondary education programs and activities, including vocational education.
29. Admission and recruitment. In addition to a general prohibition of discrimination on the basis of handicap in § 84.42(a), the regulation delineates, in § 84.42(b), specific prohibitions concerning the establishment of limitations on admission of handicapped students, the use of tests or selection criteria, and preadmission inquiry. Several changes have been made in this provision.
Section 84.42(b) provides that postsecondary educational institutions may not use any test or criterion for admission that has a disproportionate, adverse effect on handicapped persons unless it has been validated as a predictor of academic success and alternate tests or criteria with a less disproportionate, adverse effect are shown by the Department to be available. There are two significant changes in this approach from the July 16 proposed regulation.
First, many commenters expressed concern that § 84.42(b)(2)(ii) could be interpreted to require a “global search” for alternate tests that do not have a disproportionate, adverse impact on handicapped persons. this was not the intent of the provision and, therefore, it has been amended to place the burden on the Director of the Office for Civil Rights, rather than on the recipient, to identify alternate tests.
Second, a new paragraph (d), concerning validity studies, has been added. Under the proposed regulation, overall success in an education program, not just first-year grades, was the criterion against which admissions tests were to be validated. This approach has been changed to reflect the comment of professional testing services that use of first year grades would be less disruptive of present practice and that periodic validity studies against overall success in the education program would be sufficient check on the reliability of first-year grades.
Section 84.42(b)(3) also requires a recipient to assure itself that admissions tests are selected and administered to applicants with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills in such manner as is necessary to avoid unfair distortion of test results. Methods have been developed for testing the aptitude and achievement of persons who are not able to take written tests or even to make the marks required for mechanically scored objective tests; in addition, methods for testing persons with visual or hearing impairments are available. A recipient, under this paragraph, must assure itself that such methods are used with respect to the selection and administration of any admissions tests that it uses.
Section 84.42(b)(3)(iii) has been amended to require that admissions tests be administered in facilities that, on the whole, are accessible. In this context, on the whole means that not all of the facilities need be accessible so long as a sufficient number of facilities are available to handicapped persons.
Revised § 84.42(b)(4) generally prohibits preadmission inquiries as to whether an applicant has a handicap. The considerations that led to this revision are similar to those underlying the comparable revision of § 84.14 on preemployment inquiries. The regulation does, however, allow inquiries to be made, after admission but before enrollment, as to handicaps that may require accommodation.
New paragraph (c) parallels the section on preemployment inquiries and allows postsecondary institutions to inquire about applicants' handicaps before admission, subject to certain safeguards, if the purpose of the inquiry is to take remedial action to correct past discrimination or to take voluntary action to overcome the limited participation of handicapped persons in postsecondary educational institutions.
Proposed § 84.42(c), which would have allowed different admissions criteria in certain cases for handicapped persons, was widely misinterpreted in comments from both handicapped persons and recipients. We have concluded that the section is unnecessary, and it has been deleted.
30. Treatment of students. Section 84.43 contains general provisions prohibiting the discriminatory treatment of qualified handicapped applicants. Paragraph (b) requires recipients to ensure that equal opportunities are provided to its handicapped students in education programs and activities that are not operated by the recipient. The recipient must be satisfied that the outside education program or activity as a whole is nondiscriminatory. For example, a college must ensure that discrimination on the basis of handicap does not occur in connection with teaching assignments of student teachers in elementary or secondary schools not operated by the college. Under the “as a whole” wording, the college could continue to use elementary or secondary school systems that discriminate if, and only if, the college's student teaching program, when viewed in its entirety, offered handicapped student teachers the same range and quality of choice in student teaching assignments afforded nonhandicapped students.
Paragraph (c) of this section prohibits a recipient from excluding qualified handicapped students from any course, course of study, or other part of its education program or activity. This paragraph is designed to eliminate the practice of excluding handicapped persons from specific courses and from areas of concentration because of factors such as ambulatory difficulties of the student or assumptions by the recipient that no job would be available in the area in question for a person with that handicap.
New paragraph (d) requires postsecondary institutions to operate their programs and activities so that handicapped students are provided services in the most integrated setting appropriate. Thus, if a college had several elementary physics classes and had moved one such class to the first floor of the science building to accommodate students in wheelchairs, it would be a violation of this paragraph for the college to concentrate handicapped students with no mobility impairments in the same class.
31. Academic adjustments. Paragraph (a) of § 84.44 requires that a recipient make certain adjustments to academic requirements and practices that discriminate or have the effect of discriminating on the basis of handicap. This requirement, like its predecessor in the proposed regulation, does not obligate an institution to waive course or other academic requirements. But such institutions must accommodate those requirements to the needs of individual handicapped students. For example, an institution might permit an otherwise qualified handicapped student who is deaf to substitute an art appreciation or music history course for a required course in music appreciation or could modify the manner in which the music appreciation course is conducted for the deaf student. It shoud be stressed that academic requirements that can be demonstrated by the recipient to be essential to its program of instruction or to particular degrees need not be changed.
Paragraph (b) provides that postsecondary institutions may not impose rules that have the effect of limiting the participation of handicapped students in the education program. Such rules include prohibition of tape recorders or braillers in classrooms and dog guides in campus buildings. Several recipients expressed concern about allowing students to tape record lectures because the professor may later want to copyright the lectures. This problem may be solved by requiring students to sign agreements that they will not release the tape recording or transcription or otherwise hinder the professor's ability to obtain a copyright.
Paragraph (c) of this section, concerning the administration of course examinations to students with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills, parallels the regulation's provisions on admissions testing (§ 84.42(b)) and will be similarly interpreted.
Under § 84.44(d), a recipient must ensure that no handicapped student is subject to discrimination in the recipient's program because of the absence of necessary auxiliary educational aids. Colleges and universities expressed concern about the costs of compliance with this provision.
The Department emphasizes that recipients can usually meet this obligation by assisting students in using existing resources for auxiliary aids such as state vocational rehabilitation agencies and private charitable organizations. Indeed, the Department anticipates that the bulk of auxiliary aids will be paid for by state and private agencies, not by colleges or universities. In those circumstances where the recipient institution must provide the educational auxiliary aid, the institution has flexibility in choosing the methods by which the aids will be supplied. For example, some universities have used students to work with the institution's handicapped students. Other institutions have used existing private agencies that tape texts for handicapped students free of charge in order to reduce the number of readers needed for visually impaired students.
As long as no handicapped person is excluded from a program because of the lack of an appropriate aid, the recipient need not have all such aids on hand at all times. Thus, readers need not be available in the recipient's library at all times so long as the schedule of times when a reader is available is established, is adhered to, and is sufficient. Of course, recipients are not required to maintain a complete braille library.
32. Housing. Section 84.45(a) requires postsecondary institutions to provide housing to handicapped students at the same cost as they provide it to other students and in a convenient, accessible, and comparable manner. Commenters, particularly blind persons pointed out that some handicapped persons can live in any college housing and need not wait to the end of the transition period in Subpart C to be offered the same variety and scope of housing accommodations given to nonhandicapped persons. The Department concurs with this position and will interpret this section accordingly.
A number of colleges and universities reacted negatively to paragraph (b) of this section. It provides that, if a recipient assists in making off-campus housing available to its students, it should develop and implement procedures to assure itself that off-campus housing, as a whole, is available to handicapped students. Since postsecondary institutions are presently required to assure themselves that off-campus housing is provided in a manner that does not discriminate on the basis of sex (§ 86.32 of the title IX regulation), they may use the procedures developed under title IX in order to comply with § 84.45(b). It should be emphasized that not every off-campus living accommodation need be made accessible to handicapped persons.
33. Health and insurance. Section 84.46 of the proposed regulation, providing that recipients may not discriminate on the basis of handicap in the provision of health related services, has been deleted as duplicative of the general provisions of § 84.43. This deletion represents no change in the obligation of recipients to provide nondiscriminatory health and insurance plans. The Department will continue to require that nondiscriminatory health services be provided to handicapped students. Recipients are not required, however, to provide specialized services and aids to handicapped persons in health programs. If, for example, a college infirmary treats only simple disorders such as cuts, bruises, and colds, its obligation to handicapped persons is to treat such disorders for them.
34. Financial assistance. Section 84.46(a) (formerly § 84.47), prohibiting discrimination in providing financial assistance, remains substantively the same. It provides that recipients may not provide less assistance to or limit the eligibility of qualified handicapped persons for such assistance, whether the assistance is provided directly by the recipient or by another entity through the recipient's sponsorship. Awards that are made under wills, trusts, or similar legal instruments in a discriminatory manner are permissible, but only if the overall effect of the recipient's provision of financial assistance is not discriminatory on the basis of handicap.
It will not be considered discriminatory to deny, on the basis of handicap, an athletic scholarship to a handicapped person if the handicap renders the person unable to qualify for the award. For example, a student who has a neurological disorder might be denied a varsity football scholarship on the basis of his inability to play football, but a deaf person could not, on the basis of handicap, be denied a scholarship for the school's diving team. The deaf person could, however, be denied a scholarship on the basis of comparative diving ability.
Commenters on § 84.46(b), which applies to assistance in obtaining outside employment for students, expressed similar concerns to those raised under § 84.43(b), concerning cooperative programs. This paragraph has been changed in the same manner as § 84.43(b) to include the “as a whole” concept and will be interpreted in the same manner as § 84.43(b).
35. Nonacademic services. Section 84.47 (formerly § 84.48) establishes nondiscrimination standards for physical education and athletics counseling and placement services, and social organizations. This section sets the same standards as does § 84.38 of Subpart D, discussed above, and will be interpreted in a similar fashion.
Subpart F applies to recipients that operate health, welfare, and social service programs. The Department received fewer comments on this subpart than on others.
Although many commented that Subpart F lacked specificity, these commenters provided neither concrete suggestions nor additions. Nevertheless, some changes have been made, pursuant to comment, to clarify the obligations of recipients in specific areas. In addition, in an effort to reduce duplication in the regulation, the section governing recipients providing health services (proposed § 84.52) has been consolidated with the section regulating providers of welfare and social services (proposed § 84.53). Since the separate provisions that appeared in the proposed regulation were almost identical, no substantive change should be inferred from their consolidation.
Several commenters asked whether Subpart F applies to vocational rehabilitation agencies whose purpose is to assist in the rehabilitation of handicapped persons. To the extent that such agencies receive financial assistance from the Department, they are covered by Subpart F and all other relevant subparts of the regulation. Nothing in this regulation, however, precludes such agencies from servicing only handicapped persons. Indeed, § 84.4(c) permits recipients to offer services or benefits that are limited by federal law to handicapped persons or classes of handicapped persons.
Many comments suggested requiring state health, welfare, and social service agencies to take an active role in the enforcement of section 504 with regard to local health and social service providers. The Department believes that the possibility for federal-state cooperation in the administration and enforcement of section 504 warrants further consideration. Moreover, the Department will rely largely on state Medicaid agencies, as it has under title VI, for monitoring compliance by individual Medicaid providers.
A number of comments also discussed whether section 504 should be read to require payment of compensation to institutionalized handicapped patients who perform services for the institution in which they reside. The Department of Labor has recently issued a proposed regulation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that covers the question of compensation for institutionalized persons, 42 FR 15224 (March 18, 1977). This Department will seek information and comment from the Department of Labor concerning that agency's experience administering the FLSA regulation.
36. Health, welfare, and other social service providers. As already noted, § 84.53 has been combined with proposed § 84.53 into a single section covering health, welfare, and other social services. Section 84.52(a) has been expanded in several respects. The addition of new paragraph (a)(2) is intended to make clear the basic requirement of equal opportunity to receive benefits or services in the health, welfare, and social service areas. The paragraph parallels §§ 84.4(b)(ii) and 84.43(b). New paragraph (a)(3) requires the provision of effective benefits or services, as defined in § 84.4(b)(2) (i.e., benefits or services which “afford handicapped persons equal opportunity to obtain the same result (or) to gain the same benefit * * *”).
Section 84.52(a) also includes provisions concerning the limitation of benefits or services to handicapped persons and the subjection of handicapped persons to different eligibility standards. (These provisions were previously included in the welfare recipient section ( § 84.53(a)).) One common misconception about the regulation is that it would require specialized hospitals and other health care providers to treat all handicapped persons. The regulation makes no such requirement. Thus, a burn treatment center need not provide other types of medical treatment to handicapped persons unless it provides such medical services to nonhandicapped persons. It could not, however, refuse to treat the burns of a deaf person because of his or her deafness.
Commenters had raised the question of whether the prohibition against different standards of eligibility might preclude recipients from providing special services to handicapped persons or classes of handicapped persons. The regulation will not be so interpreted, and the specific section in question has been eliminated. Section 84.4(c) makes clear that special programs for handicapped persons are permitted.
A new paragraph (a)(5) concerning the provision of different or separate services or benefits has been added. This provision prohibits such treatment unless necessary to provide qualified handicapped persons with benefits and services that are as effective as those provided to others.
Section 84.52(a)(2) of the proposed regulation has been omitted as duplicative of revised § 84.22 (b) and (c) in Subpart C. As discussed above, these sections permit health care providers to arrange to meet patients in accessible facilities and to make referrals in carefully limited circumstances.
Section 84.52(a)(3) of the proposed regulation has been redesignated § 84.52(b) and has been amended to cover written material concerning waivers of rights or consent to treatment as well as general notices concerning health benefits or services. The section requires the recipient to ensure that qualified handicapped persons are not denied effective notice because of their handicap. For example, recipients could use several different types of notice in order to reach persons with impaired vision or hearing, such as brailled messages, radio spots, and tacticle devices on cards or envelopes to inform blind persons of the need to call the recipient for further information.
Sections 84.52(a)(4), 84.52(a)(5), and 84.52(b) have been omitted from the regulation as unnecessary. They are clearly comprehended by the more general sections banning discrimination.
Section 84.52(c) is a new section requiring recipient hospitals to establish a procedure for effective communication with persons with impaired hearing for the purpose of providing emergency health care. Although it would be appropriate for a hospital to fulfill its responsibilities under this section by having a full-time interpreter for the deaf on staff, there may be other means of accomplishing the desired result of assuring that some means of communication is immediately available for deaf persons needing emergency treatment.
Section 84.52(d), also a new provision, requires recipients with fifteen or more employees to provide appropriate auxiliary aids for persons with impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills. Further, the Director may require a small provider to furnish auxiliary aids where the provision of aids would not adversely affect the ability of the recipient to provide its health benefits or service. Thus although a small nonprofit neighborhood clinic might not be obligated to have available an interpreter for deaf persons, the Director may require provision of such aids as may be reasonably available to ensure that qualified handicapped persons are not denied appropriate benefits or services because of their handicaps.
37. Treatment of Drug Addicts and Alcoholics. Section 84.53 is a new section that prohibits discrimination in the treatment and admission of drug and alcohol addicts to hospitals and outpatient facilities. This section is included pursuant to section 407, Pub. L. 92-255, the Drug Abuse Office and Treatment Act of 1972 ( 21 U.S.C. 1174), as amended, and section 321, Public Law 91-616, the Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act of 1970 ( 42 U.S.C. 4581), as amended, and section 321, Public Law 93-282. Section 504 itself also prohibits such discriminatory treatment and, in addition, prohibits similar discriminatory treatment by other types of health providers. Section 84.53 prohibits discrimination against drug abusers by operators of outpatient facilities, despite the fact that section 407 pertains only to hospitals, because of the broader application of section 504. This provision does not mean that all hospitals and outpatient facilities must treat drug addiction and alcoholism. It simply means, for example, that a cancer clinic may not refuse to treat cancer patients simply because they are also alcoholics.
38. Education of institutionalized persons. The regulation retains § 84.54 of the proposed regulation that requires that an appropriate education be provided to qualified handicapped persons who are confined to residential institutions or day care centers.
In § 84.61, the Secretary has adopted the title VI complaint and enforcement procedures for use in implementing section 504 until such time as they are superseded by the issuance of a consolidated procedural regulation applicable to all of the civil rights statutes and executive orders administered by the Department.