The Kansas Secretary of State performed an updated ADA Self Evaluation in May, 2004. Following the evaluation, our office drafted a new plan to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The following outline summarizes the public services provided by our office and the measures followed to ensure ADA compliance.
Kansas Secretary of State Services
Public contact is typically defined as one-on-one interaction between a staff member and a member of the general public. Public contact may take one or more of the following forms:
- Telephone – Kansas Secretary of State divisions receive numerous calls on a daily basis requesting information on a wide range of topics. The Kansas Secretary of State provides a customer service division, which generally handles most phone calls, transferring them to specific individuals or divisions when necessary. Additionally, the Kansas Secretary of State provides a 1-800 Elections Hot Line, which is used to address election concerns.
- Internet – The Kansas Secretary of State provides access to varied information via its website. Citizens are able to view information regarding all divisions, and to obtain forms. Citizens may also file some business transactions electronically. Additionally, the Kansas Secretary of State web site links to other state agencies and services.
- Counter/Walk-in Assistance – All divisions of the Kansas Secretary of State receive walk-in customers on a regular basis as part of the day-to-day operation. Individuals “walk in” to request information and file documents.
- Interviewing – Applicants for employment go through an interview process requiring one-on-one interaction with Kansas Secretary of State staff.
In addition to direct public contact, information regarding Kansas Secretary of State services, programs and activities is distributed through the use of printed materials.
- Forms – The Kansas Secretary of State is a filing agency and therefore many forms are generated by our office to assist the customer with filing requirements. Kansas Secretary of State forms include those used to file business entities, apply for a notary commission, comply with mandatory election filing and disclosure requirements, and to request public records.
- Brochures/Fliers/Newsletters – These are used as informational and promotional tools to educate the public about Kansas Secretary of State duties and requirements.
- Public Notices – On occasion, the Kansas Secretary of State provides official notification to the public of events or meetings, as required by law.
The Kansas Secretary of State on occasion conducts public meetings. Some meetings are formal and noticed. Others are working sessions focusing on project management or daily operations. Examples of public meetings include the state board of canvassers, objection hearings, certification hearings for election equipment, and administrative hearings on notary commissions or election complaints.
The Kansas Secretary of State employs approximately 60 employees. The office is composed of four divisions; administration, business services, elections and legislative matters, and information/technology.
Policies and Procedures
The policies that follow are recognized by the Kansas Secretary of State as its basis for providing services, activities and programs to all customers, job applicants and employees.
- It is the Kansas Secretary of State’s intent to ensure that all individuals who do business with the Kansas Secretary of State, or work for the Kansas Secretary of State, are informed of the process and resources used by the Kansas Secretary of State to make services, activities and programs accessible.
- The Kansas Secretary of State will assure equal employment opportunity and fair employment practices to all persons regardless of medical condition or disability.
- Kansas Secretary of State services, activities and programs will be offered in an accessible fashion. Requests for reasonable accommodation will be responded to positively where no proficiency, safety and/or sanctioned requirements are in place.
- All Kansas Secretary of State contracts made with entities that will provide a service, activity or program to the public on behalf of the Kansas Secretary of State shall include a clause requiring compliance by the contractor with all state policies concerning accessibility.
- Procedures to ensure compliance with theADA and implementation of these policies will be developed and disseminated to appropriate Kansas Secretary of State staff.
- Money for accommodations will be included in the budget; fees for reasonable accommodations cannot be imposed on the public.
- New employee orientation will include a section that covers Kansas Secretary of State policies concerning ADA.
- Training will be provided on disability awareness at a regular interval.
- All public meeting notices will include the process for requesting accommodations and auxiliary aids.
- All public meetings will be accessible.
- Upon request, the following assistive services and devices may be made available (this list is not all-inclusive):
- Large print documents, documents on tape or documents in Braille
- Readers for individuals with visual impairments to review all pertinent material distributed on specific meeting agenda items
- Amplification or listening devices for individuals participating in Kansas Secretary of State sponsored meetings
- Kansas Secretary of State produced CD’s of materials
- All event or meeting notices will contain the following or similar note:
“Any person with a disability may request accommodation in order to participate in the [describe event]. Requests for accommodation should be made ten working days before the accommodation is needed. Requests should be made to the Legal Division, (785) 296-4801 or 1-800-262-8683 (TTD/TTY). Accessible parking is located on the south side of Memorial Hall, and accessible entryways to the building are located on the south side of Memorial Hall and through the adjoining building, Landon State Office Building.”
- All informational brochures, booklets, and fliers will contain the following or similar statement:
“In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, this document is available in alternate formats by contacting the Kansas Secretary of State, 120 SW 10th Avenue, Topeka, KS 66612-1594, (785) 296-4564, Kssos@ks.gov TTY ____________.”
- Phone listings in state publications and local directories will contain references to TTY lines, and staff will be trained in the use of TTY equipment.
- The website will be accessible in accordance with state guidelines on IT accessibility.
- Forms will be provided in fillable format on the website so as to be accessible by a screen reader. Forms may also be completed with personal assistance from Kansas Secretary of State staff.
- The Kansas Secretary of State will review employment rules and practices to ensure that they do not discriminate against individuals with disabilities.
- The Kansas Secretary of State will not assume any automatic disqualifications for employment based on medical or health conditions, unless law specifically allows it.
- Positions requiring physical agility will be reviewed to ensure the job relatedness of all physical activities.
- Reasonable accommodations will be available upon request for use in the selection/hiring process.
- Job announcement will be available, upon request, in alternate formats.
- A listing of the TTY number will be included on all job announcements.
- The Kansas Secretary of State’s Statement on Accommodations will be included on all employment applications.
- Potentially discriminating language will not be allowed in job postings, applications or test material.
- Training for interviews shall include a discussion of non-discriminatory questions and conduct for the interview process.
Requests for Accomodations or Auxiliary Aids
- The individual requesting the accommodation or aid is to provide as much information as possible on:
- Type of accommodation/aid needed
- Availability of accommodation/aid
- Benefit of accommodation/aid
- What types of accommodation or aids are most useful and helpful to meet the needs of the current situation.
- Division deputy and legal counsel will review the request. They are to gain knowledge and information about:
- Various types of accommodations/aids for the individual’s special needs
- Availability of accommodations/aids
- Benefit of accommodation or aid to performance of service requirements
- Alternative types of accommodations or aids to meet the specific situation
- The reviewers should consult with the individual in identifying his/her special needs related to the service and in determining which modifications/accommodations/aids are most appropriate.
- If the request is denied, the division deputy provides the individual with a copy of the refusal including the rationale for denial, and any options to appeal the decision.
Guidelines for Assisting Persons with Disabilities
The following guidelines and suggestions are provided in two formats. The first organizes suggestions for assisting with accessibility by services type, and the second is organized by disability type. These are suggestions to help Kansas Secretary of State divisions understand and plan for the needs of persons with disabilities in offerings their services.
For the purpose of these guidelines, four broad impairment categories were identified: Visually Impaired, Hearing Impaired, Mobility Impaired, and Learning Impaired. Please be aware that some individuals experience more than one disability. A description of each impairment category is listed below. The vast majority of persons with disabilities can receive and/or participate in the same services/activities/programs as individuals within the community who do not have disabilities.
Visually Impaired (VI) – A person is considered legally blind if his/her visual acuity is 20/200 or less in the better eye with the best correction. A person who is legally blind may have some useful vision. Many people with severe vision problems can enjoy many of the same activities the sighted enjoy if someone will offer guidance and orientation to the surroundings.
Hearing Impaired (HI) – Total or partial impairment of hearing may result from a variety of causes, the onset being either at birth or occurring later in life. Impairments vary from mild to severe. A person with a hearing impairment may use a hearing aid to increase his/her hearing capabilities, or read lips or sign to communicate. A person with a hearing impairment may also have some difficulty with speech.
Mobility Impairment (MI) – A person’s mobility may be limited as a result of a traumatic accident, birth defects or aging. Weakness may range from involvement of one arm or leg to involvement of all extremities and trunk. A person may use a wheelchair, walker, scooter, prosthetic limb, cane or crutches to assist with mobility.
Learning Impairment (LI) – Ability to learn may be hampered by a traumatic accident or birth defect resulting in brain damage. Learning impairments vary from mild to severe. A person may have speech or communication problems in addition to cognitive and memory problems. New material to be learned may need to be adapted according to a person’s limitations.
Suggestions - Organized by Service
- When talking on the phone, speak slowly and clearly to allow the person enough time to respond to you. (LI)
- Use the Relay Service or a TTY. (HI)
- When interacting with a person one on one, speak clearly and face the person with whom you are speaking. (HI)
- Always identify yourself when beginning a conversation. (VI)
- Communicate in writing when necessary (HI)
- If public counter height is above 34″ in your office, find an alternate meeting spot, i.e., a lower table, a lower bench, or pull up a chair and sit next to the person at eye level. (MI)
- Provide assistance in filling out a form. (VI, LI)
- Provide assistance to those who may need help with reading information. (VI, LI)
- Have staff available to answer questions either over the phone or at the counter. (ALL)
- Rearrange office furniture to accommodate wheelchairs in the office, or use an alternate location. (MI)
- Take extra time to explain things one on one. (LI)
- Use repetition, especially with verbal information. (LI)
- Simplify instruction (both written and verbal). (LI)
- Make a flier with commonly asked questions and answers. (HI)
- Provide assistance by phone if individuals can’t come to you. (ALL)
- Train employees and volunteers to recognize disabilities and to make appropriate accommodations. (ALL)
- In interviews present the information to an applicant in written form. (HI)
- Provide alternate ways to perform tasks based on a person’s limitations. (ALL)
- Use accessible vehicles for excursions as needed. (MI)
- Increase font/type size of handouts, brochures, forms, and other printed materials. With pre-printed materials, enlarge them up on a copier when necessary. (VI)
- Mail printed information to individual who have problems with transportation. (MI)
- Provide fillable boxes for information on website forms to allow the use of screen readers (VI).
Meetings / Training / Activities
- Consider that wheelchair clearance under a table is 27” when providing tables in the room.
- Assist with the opening of doors in building and meeting rooms. (VI,MI)
- Know the group to which you are presenting. Call ahead and find out if any of your audience members has special needs and plan accordingly. (ALL)
- Use clear and descriptive audiovisual materials during presentations, i.e. video, film and overhead projectors. (ALL)
- At special events make all signs in large print. (VI)
- Use a PA system when making a presentation to a group. (HI)
- Allow staff, volunteers and family to assist participants during activities. (ALL)
- Pair a person with impairment with a non-impaired person to assist in participation in class. (ALL)
- Increase the lighting where the staff and participants are working. (VI)
- Provide auxiliary assistance with interpreters, written material, and assistive listening devices during meetings, classes, and workshops. (HI)
- Call people with reminders of meetings instead of mailing fliers. (VI)
- Use tactile teaching at workshops and educational presentations. (VI,LI)
- If the activity site is a grass area, provide staff that can assist with wheelchair mobility over the grass area. (MI)
- Use a lot of praise. (LI)
- Make learning situations “fun” — it promotes motivational learning. (LI)
- Provide success-oriented activities. (LI)
- Use adaptive equipment to allow greater independence in various programs. (ALL)
- Use flashcards. (HI)
- Provide alternate vehicles for transportation. (MI)
- Remove barriers for wheelchair access. (MI)
- Alter location to accommodate people who need to sit for their own comfort. (MI)
- Limit interview questions to issue of ability to perform the essential functions of the job. (ALL)
- Provide a reasonable accommodation as requested by the applicant or employee. (ALL)
Suggestions - Organized by Type of Disability
General Suggestions for All Impairments
- Follow the office Disability Etiquette Handbook.
- Keep in mind that a person who has a disability is a “person” just like anyone else.
- If you don’t know what to do or say, allow the person who has a disability to help put you at ease.
- Offer assistance if asked or if a need seems obvious, but don’t insist.
- Be considerate of the extra time it may take for a person to get things said or done.
- Speak directly to a person who has a disability. Don’t consider a companion to be a conversational go-between.
- If the facility in which you offer services, activities or programs is not accessible, or an individual has difficulty with transportation, provide services by phone, arrange a meeting in an accessible facility or mail printed information.
- Ensure that goods, services, privileges, advantages, accommodations and services, are provided to an individual with a disability in the “most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of the individual.” This means the person should be provided the services in a manner as similar as possible as the manner provided to a person without disabilities.
Note: Accommodations or adjustments that are made for one individual with a disability may not be necessary or desirable for another who has a similar disability.
- Provide staff assistance to individuals who may need help with reading information or filling out a form.
- Make all signage large print, provide contrasting color, and use simple color like black on white.
- Provide fillable boxes for information on website forms to allow the use of screen readers.
- Present information to the applicant in written form or use an interpreter.
- If required, communicate by exchanging written notes.
- If a person lip-reads, position them in a place where they can see the speaker.
- Provide accessible vehicles for activities involving state-provided transportation.
- Rearrange office furniture or conference rooms to accommodate wheelchairs.
- Provide one-on-one or small group communication.
- When talking on the phone, speak slowly and clearly. Allow the person enough time to comprehend and respond to you.
Emergency Evacuation Procedures
All buildings that are open to the public must be prepared to provide safe exit of all occupants and visitors in an emergency situation. The ADA requires emergency procedures to make equal provision for the safety and evacuation of disabled persons. Kansas Secretary of State is housed in Memorial Hall, which includes both auditory and visual alarms for emergency evacuations.
The following information may be used as a guide to assist staff when responding to emergencies and providing assistance to persons with disabilities. It is recommended that all staff members familiarize themselves with the procedures.
Basic Guidelines: Emergency Evacuation Procedures for Persons with Disabilities
In emergency evacuation situations, persons with disabilities must be assisted according to the extent of their disability and the nature of the emergency. NEVER LEAVE A DISABLED PERSON ALONE IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION. Follow the Kansas Secretary of State buddy system, as outlined in the emergency evacuation policy in the Employee Handbook.
It is important to use common sense, assess the situation thoroughly and decide on possible options. Decisions depend on time available, number of people available and individual tolerance or preference of the person being moved.
- Describe the nature of the emergency.
- Offer to guide them and inquire whether they might prefer taking your elbow. Lead them to a safe area. Advise them of any obstacles. Most visually impaired persons are familiar with the immediate area and can be independent once a safe area is reached.
- Do not take cane or dog away.
- Persons with impaired hearing may not hear the warning bells and buzzers used for evacuation of buildings.
- Usually they will sense the emergency situation by noting the actions of other occupants of the building. If necessary, write down the nature of the emergency and direct them to the nearest evacuation route.
Persons Using Crutches, Canes or Walkers
- Before moving a semi-ambulatory person, discuss and agree upon a procedure.
- Usually they can be lifted without complications or jeopardizing their health.
- They may be lifted using a 2-man lock-arm carry or can be transferred to an office-type chair (preferably with arms) and carried down stairs by two persons.
Persons Confined to Wheelchairs
- DO NOT REMOVE A PERSON FROM A WHEELCHAIR UNLESS THE OCCUPANT AGREES TO SUCH A PROCEDURE.
- The requirements of persons in wheelchairs vary considerably with the type of disability and individual preference.
- Some persons can tolerate only minimal movement. Lifting them from their wheelchair may result in severe pain or injury. Removal from the chair may induce spasticity or result in loss of use of an artificial respirator on the chair. Some occupants may be connected to a catheter bag.
- Some electric wheelchairs with batteries weigh in excess of 400 pounds.
- The batteries are usually the sealed type and the cables are connected to the terminals with wing nuts for easy removal.
- The batteries should be removed before attempting to carry the electric chair down a flight of stairs either with or without the occupant in the chair. The batteries can be carried separately.
- It may be possible to lift a light-weight model chair that is unoccupied with the batteries attached. If this procedure is used, be sure the batteries are not tilted or bounced.
- If the wheelchair occupant uses a respirator, the batteries must be reinstalled as soon as possible. In some cases it may be necessary to wait for a portable respirator to be used while the occupant is disconnected from his battery operated system before moving the occupant from the emergency situation.
- Wheelchairs have moveable or weak parts, which are not constructed to withstand the stress of lifting. Follow the instructions from the wheelchair occupant on how and where to lift the wheelchair.
- If it is necessary to carry a wheelchair and occupant down the stairs, at least four persons should assist.
- Occupant should be securely strapped into wheelchair.