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Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Letters


December 6, 1999

xxx xxxxx xx xxxxxxxxx

xx xxxxx xxxxxx xxxxx

xxxxxxx, xxxxxxxx xxxxx

Dear Mr. xxxxxxxxx:

This letter responds to your inquiry to the Attorney General on behalf of xxx and xxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx, who alleged discrimination on the basis of disability by the Department of State in their application for passports. Your letter and those written by xxx xxxxxxxxxx indicated that the local passport office would not accept their state identification cards in lieu of their drivers' licenses. Instead, a witness, with a driver's license, was required to sign an affidavit before the clerk to verify their citizenship. The xxxxxxxxxxx allege that this practice discriminates against individuals who, like them, are blind.

Both the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) and the Disability Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice received this complaint. On October 4, 1999, the INS referred the complaint to the Passport Office of the Department of State. Thereafter, the Seattle Passport Agency responded to the xxxxxxxxxxxx complaint by a letter of apology, a clarification of the Department's policies, and a recognition that training for local passport acceptance agents should be increased.

On November 19, 1999, Catherine O'Brien of the Disability Rights Section spoke to you regarding this complaint. We understand that you and the xxxxxxxxxxx extend your concerns beyond the individual situation they faced. You want the Passport Office to modify its policies and practices so that individuals who are blind are not required to do more than individuals who are sighted. The xxxxxxxxxxx object to the response from the Seattle Passport Agency, which suggests that a written explanation about the nature of the disability accompany an identity card. They believe that passport offices simply should recognize federal or state identification cards presented by individuals who do not have drivers' licenses.

Because the xxxxxxxxxxxx complaint alleges a possible violation of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in programs or activities conducted by federal agencies, we have referred their complaint to the civil rights office of the Department of State, which has the responsibility to investigate section 504 complaints involving the Department's own programs. If you have any questions, please contact the Department of State at the following address:

Mr. Thomas Jefferson, Jr.

Associate Director for Equal

Opportunity and Civil Rights

Department of State


2201 C Street, N.W., Room 4216

Washington, D.C. 20520

Telephone: (202) 647-9295

Please do not hesitate to contact the Department if we can be of assistance in other matters.


Bill Lann Lee

Acting Assistant

Attorney General Civil Rights Division


Updated August 6, 2015