Settlement Agreement Between The United States Of America And Albany County Probation Department, Albany, New York

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COMPLAINT NUMBER 204-50-133

This matter was initiated by a complaint filed under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. ァァ 12131-12134, with the United States Department of Justice ("Department of Justice") against the Albany County Probation Department, Albany, New York. The complaint was received by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, under the authority of 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F. The complainant, who is deaf, alleged that although he was under the supervision of the Albany County Probation Department ("Probation Department"), the Probation Department failed to provided him with a sign language interpreter when necessary to ensure that communications with him were as effective as communications with hearing persons.
The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R. Part 35, Subpart F, to investigate fully the allegations of the complaint in this matter to determine the Albany County Probation Department's compliance with title II of the ADA and the Justice Department's implementing regulation, issue findings, and, where appropriate, negotiate and secure voluntary compliance agreements. Furthermore, the Attorney General is authorized under 42 U.S.C. ァ 12133, to bring civil action enforcing title II of the ADA should the Department of Justice fail to secure voluntary compliance pursuant to Subpart F. In consideration of the terms of this Agreement as set forth below, the Attorney General agrees to refrain from undertaking further investigation or from filing civil suit in this matter.
The parties to this Agreement are the United States of America and the Albany County Probation Department.
In the interests of avoiding the costs of litigation and securing compliance by voluntary means, the parties hereby agree as follows:
  1. The Albany County Probation Department ("Probation Department") is a public entity covered by title II of the ADA as defined in the Department of Justice's regulation implementing title II. 42 U.S.C. ァ 12131(1); 28 C.F.R. 35.104.
  2. The subject of this Settlement Agreement is a written policy which is attached, requiring that in those situations where the provision of interpreting services is necessary to ensure effective communication, the Probation Department will secure qualified interpreting services.
  3. In order to ensure effective communication with members of the public who are deaf or hard of hearing in the Probation Department's programs, activities, and services, the Probation Department will:
    1. Provide, at the Probation Department's expense, appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including qualified interpreters when necessary to afford a qualified individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by the Probation Department.
    2. Give primary consideration to the requests of the individuals with disabilities, in determining what type of auxiliary aid or service is necessary.
    3. Notify individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing about the provision of auxiliary aids and services to ensure effective communication. The Probation Department will distribute this information through pamphlets, posters or other appropriate means.
  1. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Probation Department will adopt and implement the attached policy concerning effective communication.
  2. Within 30 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Probation Department will instruct all of its employees to comply with the provisions of this Agreement.
  3. Within 90 days of the effective date of this Agreement, the Albany County Probation Department will submit a report to the Department of Justice detailing the actions it has taken to comply with the preceding provisions.
  4. This Settlement Agreement is a public document. A copy of this document or any information contained in it may be made available to any person. The Albany County Probation Department or the Department of Justice will provide a copy of this Agreement to any person on request.
  5. The Department of Justice may review compliance with this Agreement at any time. If the Department of Justice believes that this Agreement or any requirement thereof has been violated, it may institute civil action seeking specific performance of the provisions of this Agreement in an appropriate Federal court, or reopen the investigation of this matter.
  6. Failure by the Department of Justice to enforce this entire Agreement or any provision thereof with respect to any deadline or any other provision herein will not be construed as a waiver of its right to enforce other deadlines and provisions of this Agreement.
  7. The effective date of this Agreement is the date of the last signature below.
  8. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the parties on the matters raised herein, and no other statement, promise, or agreement, either written or oral, made by either party or agents of either party, that is not contained in this written Agreement, will be enforceable under its provisions. This Agreement is limited to the matters alleged as set forth in the first paragraph, and it does not purport to remedy any other potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other Federal law. This Agreement does not affect the Albany County Probation Department's continuing responsibility to comply with all aspects of title II of the ADA.

For the Probation Department:

____________________________      Date:___________
CHARLOTTE O. GRAY, Director

County of Albany
Probation Department
35 Chapel Street
Albany, New York 12207

For the United States:

BILL LANN LEE
Acting Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights

By:__________________________      Date:___________
   JOHN WODATCH, Chief
   RENEE WOHLENHAUS, Deputy Chief
   NAOMI H. MILTON, Attorney
   Disability Rights Section
   Civil Rights Division
   U.S. Department of Justice
   P.O. Box 66738
   Washington, D.C. 20035-6738

Attachment

POLICY ON EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IN SITUATIONS INVOLVING INDIVIDUALS WITH HEARING IMPAIRMENTS

POLICY

It is the policy of the Albany County Probation Department ("Department") to ensure that communications with applicants, participants, and members of the public with disabilities are as effective as communications with others. The Department will furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services when necessary to provide an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a service, program, or activity conducted by the Department.

AUXILIARY AIDS AND SERVICES

"Auxiliary aids and services" includes:

  1. Qualified interpreters, notetakers, transcription services, written materials, telephone handset amplifiers, assistive listening devices, assistive listening systems, telephones compatible with hearing aids, closed caption decoders, open and closed captioning, telecommunications devices for deaf persons (TDDs), videotext displays, or other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments;
  2. Qualified readers, taped texts, audio recordings, Brailled materials, large print materials, or other effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals with visual impairments;
  3. Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices; and
  4. Other similar services and actions.
    In determining whether a qualified sign language interpreter is required, the following factors of communication must be considered:
    1. Context;
    2. Number of persons involved;
    3. Importance;
    4. Complexity; and
    5. Duration.

ASSIGNED PROBATION OFFICER RESPONSIBLE FOR ENSURING THAT AN AUXILIARY AID OR SERVICE IS PROVIDED

The probation officer assigned to a case is responsible for seeing that a required auxiliary aid or service, such as a qualified sign language interpreter, is provided upon prior notice for a person with a disability who needs an auxiliary aid or service in order to participate in counseling, investigation, supervision, or any other program, service or activity conducted by the Department.
If a necessary auxiliary aid or service is not available, then the meeting or activity will be postponed until it is provided.

DETERMINING THE TYPE OF AUXILIARY AID OR SERVICE THAT IS NECESSARY

When an auxiliary aid or service is required to ensure effective communication, the probation officer will:
  1. provide an opportunity for an individual with a disability to request the auxiliary aid and service of his or her choice;
  2. give "primary consideration" to the choice expressed by the individual. "Primary consideration" means that the court must honor the choice, unless it can demonstrate that another equally effective means of communication is available, or that use of the means chosen would result in a fundamental alteration in the service, program or activity or in undue financial burden.

If the referred type of auxiliary aid or service is not available, or not required, the probation officer assigned to the case will consult with the individual with a disability to determine whether an alternative means of communication will ensure effective communication. However, if a requested auxiliary aid or service is not available and no equally effective means of communication is available, then the meeting or activity will be postponed until the requested auxiliary aid or service can be provided, unless it would result in a fundamental alteration in the service, program or activity or in an undue financial burden.

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Updated August 6, 2015

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