Thursday, February 9, 2017

Standing Reasonable Accommodations Requests

RantWoman's vocabulary of the day, salient both in her community life and in her faith community, with particularly piquant notes in her faith community.:

Alternate formats

Public accommodations

Open government

Standing Reasonable Accommodations Requests

RantWoman is not a lawyer. RantWoman went looking at the NW ADA center for language relevant to what is on her mind. RantWoman is also trying to boil down her concerns in ways that she might be able to seek advice from Very Significant Advocate Law firm about what is on RantWoman's mind.

RantWoman really does NOT actually want to have to go seek outside help, but one of the threads frying her brain in her faith community is the phrase "I'm a lawyer and ..." That phrase together with other things in RantWoman's email is making RantWoman want to say "Well, if you were MY lawyer either we would come to a different understanding or RantWoman would get a different lawyer." As it is, RantWoman is figuring out what need to be said in the realm of "Either we figure out a better process than the one you are perpetrating to work on concerns ..."

RantWoman, alas, has previous life experience in this realm though and feels absolutely NO motivation to shield younger adults in their working lives from thinking about RantWoman's concerns. Should be fun times all around.

But back to documents and alternate formats.
RantWoman's preferred standard for documents in alternate formats is electronic copies either on a web link that can be shared with others who might also appreciate alternatives to paper or emailed in advance. RantWoman has various ways of coping when this does not occur. RantWoman also makes a distinction between things she goes to all the time and situations where things she goes to all the time involve outside speakers.

Yesterday RantWoman went to a monthly meeting. The Chair HAS gotten that emailing the agenda is a big help. He has NOT gotten that emailing the minutes is also highly on point. RantWoman considers this unfortunate since minutes are badly needed and RantWoman would be really happy first of all just to rely on a secretary who can take good minutes and failing that, to help nurture and encourage the development of good minutes skills.

RantWoman notes one handout, a purchase list that needed to be approved. RantWoman is unsure that was even worth reproducing particularly since the items were read aloud for the record and the approval was not in doubt.

For this meeting stream we will not even talk about whether the chair remembers to remind outside speakers of RantWoman's standing reasonable accommodations request which also includes provision for alternate formats.

SAMPLE: Standing request to outside presenters: we know there are blind people who attend our meetings, so if you bring handouts, please email an electronic copy to our chair and our chair will email to those requesting.

Come to think of it, RantWoman sometimes remembers to send out a similar reminder when she gets agendas for one of her transportation related habits. Probably RantWoman should send out the reminder more often or check to see what appears on a website. RantWoman should start using this request for one strand of activity at her faith community too! Oh joy!

When outside speakers do not intersect with RantWoman's standing Reasonable Accommodations request, RantWoman does have  alternate strategies, mainly aimed at contact information to facilitate followup contact.  RantWoman will have to use these strategies for yesterday's event. Luckily the Death By Powerpoint moment has one contact and RantWomans already knows info for two other documents referenced. Inclusion Matters.

Alas, RantWoman has another meeting stream where she gets to have a conversation of the form: getting the following categories of documents in alternative formats (posted to the organizational website really means a lot for Rantwoman's ability to appreciate an annual event. If you are too busy to see that this happens, who can you delegate the task to, either staff or another volunteer?

Add the term public accommodation. This term has been previously walked through around RantWoman's faith community regarding sign language interpreters and service dogs. The above request would be an example of RantWoman needing to walk through the matter in terms of  alternative formats so that for instance staff understand the value of getting this small but important task done.

Here we come to another topic likely to make people's eyes glaze over: RantWoman's position would be, yes RantWoman KNOWS that requirements for accessibility on the internet are a vexed topic but the website / electronic mail practices are part of the organization's public accommodations role AND there are accessible solutions that should meet the organization's needs. So responding to Reasonable Accommodations language about documents in alternate formats and the conduct of organizational email is part of one organization's public accommodations presence (and gosh dang it, actually interstate commerce too.)

In Rantwoman's rich fantasy life, having the above requested documents posted without reminders would be just thrilling. Plan B is RantWoman now knows to send remindrs of this request in a timely way before the event in question. Plan C is to decide whether rantWoman needs to salt the request with  the phrase "As a Reasonable accommodation."

Oh, and if RantWoman added Reasonable Accommodations languages to requests for basic email courtesies too, would this help or hinder the tidiness of emails? RantWoman really does NOT want to jump down everyone's throat about every single unsophisticated email user mistake. In fact, although RantWoman is happy to share tech support duties, rantWoman can OFTEN offer tips that make the email torrents much more manageable for other people too.

Sample message: RantWoman really appreciates it when some basic standards of email apply. You recently sent out an email with a long list of recipients that causes RantWoman to wonder whether you have the right tools to manage the email tasks associated with your job. As a reasonable accommodation will you please consider and RantWoman would be happy to talk to someone geekier about what to look for in tools. RantWoman has some pretty specific points in mind but would not mind using someone else's eyeballs to search faster.

RantWoman notes yet another basic email courtesy that RantWoman is thinking of phrasing in terms of reasonable accommodations: when forwarding email, RantWoman DOES NOT want to see the entire to list for every layer of forwards. RantWoman likes seeing the original sender, date and subject line of a forwarded message. RantWoman deeply appreciates it when people clean up the messages and forward only the meatiest content.

Alas, the first thing that has to happen is better conversations than are currently occurring. A REALLY GOOD START, besides recognizing seriously hurt feelings and dialing back about the word "bullying" as applied to assertion of rights would be something beside "Go away for six months and then maybe we'll think about it!"

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