Unless stated otherwise, the information in this section is based on U.S. Department of Transportation regulation 49 CFR Part 37 - Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities (ADA).
You must make your service information available to people with disabilities. This means you may need to use accessible formats and technology, such as Braille, large print, or TDD/TTYs, upon request, to enable passengers to obtain information and schedule service. (Section 37.167(f))
In the context of ADA complementary paratransit, all information about the eligibility application process, materials needed to apply, and notices and determinations regarding eligibility must be made available in accessible formats, upon request. (Section 37.125 (b))
Accessible formats (also called alternate formats) are types of auxiliary aids and services provided to ensure communications access for people with impaired vision, speech, or hearing.
Blind or visually impaired persons
Common accessible formats for blind or visually impaired persons include:
There are ways to format webpages and present text, photos, and graphics in order to make a website accessible to persons with disabilities. Easter Seals Project ACTION has a helpful Website Accessibility Online Toolkit that provides guidance on this topic. Some of the key measures, which are listed in Section 4 of that toolkit, include: providing alternate text to describe images; using primary colors (like red or blue) for layout design and links; avoiding the use of Flash; providing closed captioning for videos; using plain fonts and appropriate sizes; and designing navigation that is easy to follow.
Blind or visually impaired persons who use computer screen-reading programs can read standard Word documents (the program speaks the monitor display). You will need to edit your materials to describe all photos, maps, and other graphics, as those elements are often not readable. US Department of Veteran's Affairs' Creating Accessible PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Professional guide offers helpful information and step-by-step instructions.
Font size should be 14-point or larger (usually 18-point) and the font typeface should be simple, like Arial or Helvetica. For some documents the text can be made bigger by simply using the enlarge feature of a photocopier or by revising the document and printing it with the larger font. Alternatively you can order large print formats of your materials from a printing company.
It is important to offer materials in Braille format for those who need it. You can pay to have documents translated and printed into Braille, or you may consider purchasing a Braille printer, depending on the size of your agency and the needs of your community.
If requested, you should be able to provide an audio recording of printed information. This means the document is read out loud and recorded, usually onto a CD.
Deaf or hearing impaired persons
TTY relay services are important to make sure deaf or hearing impaired individuals can access information about your services and the paratransit eligibility application process. A TTY is a teletypewriter, or text telephone, that allows a user to type text to another TTY user. TTYs are also known as Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD).
TTY relay services consist of a relay operator (or communications assistant) that connects TTY calls with people who communicate by telephone. The operator converts voice-to-text and vice versa, with the text displayed on the user’s TTY.
Relay services can be arranged through your telephone company, or you can inform your customers that they can dial 711 to utilize the national Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), available 24 hours a day and free for calls within the United States.
For more information, see the Federal Communications Commission's 711 for Telecommunications Relay Service on the FCC website. For more information about TTY and TTY Relay Services in general, visit the National Association of the Deaf website.
It is important to note that you cannot assume what type of accessible format would be best for a customer with a disability, as explained in Part 37, Appendix D:
“A document does not necessarily need to be made available in the format a requester prefers, but it does have to be made available in a format the person can use. There is no use giving a computer disk to someone who does not have a computer, for instance, or a Braille document to a person who does not read Braille.” (App. D, Section 37.125)
It is also important to let your customers know that other formats are available and how they can request those formats. For example, the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) in Aspen, Colorado includes the following sentences at the top of the Paratransit page of their website:
“Schedule information is available in large print and audio tape. TTY (Text Telephone) users may call Colorado Relay at 1-800-659-3656. For a large print copy of a schedule call (970) 920-1905 ext. 4971.”
More information on alternate formats and other considerations for hosting an accessible meeting can be found under the Public Meetings and Outreach section of this toolkit.