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Accessibility and Accommodations

One of the issues that will play an important role in the determination of services to be offered to persons with disabilities will be the issue of accessibility and accommodation.  Accessibility in this context refers to an individual’s physical ability to obtain admittance into a VITA site or other coalition event while accommodation generally refers to their ability to partake in the event due to a disability-related limitation. 

Suggested VITA Site Accessibility Guidlines

All entry points should be accessible. 36 inch doorways/entries, with accessible automated, low pull weight doors including appropriate handles (or someone at the door to assist opening them for individuals, if needed).

Entry point thresholds should not be over 3/4 inch if beveled or 1/2 inch if flat. (e.g. no stairways or steps).

Public buildings should have ADA accessible restrooms (with 36 inch doorways). To be fully ADA accessible, the restroom, if a single unisex bathroom, should have enough space to turn a wheelchair around without touching or running into anything (e.g. 5 foot radius is ADA compliant).

There should be the appropriate number of accessible parking spaces  (parking spaces may be designated as temporary by using cones and a sign indicating it is for handicap parking only --- through the duration of the tax season for the VITA site) as long as they are the closest most accessible route to the entrance.

If drinking fountains are present at least one should have accessible height or a paper cup dispenser available at the fountain.

Suggested VITA Site Accomodation Guidlines

Printed material should be made available in large print (no smaller than 14 font print). Remember that if sent electronically some screen readers cannot interpret anything other than straight text.

A sign language interpreter should be available upon prior request by the individual, at least 7 to 10 days in advance of appointment. Suggested language:  "If you require an ADA accommodation in order to participate in this event, please contact __________ at ________ with your request by _________. " (Be sure that it is placed prominently below your narrative but above any logos so that it is not overlooked.)

The problem with hiring interpreters is that they can be expensive and must be provided at no cost to the individual requesting them. Obviously that cost would not be in a VITA sites budget, so site coordinators are encouraged to actively recruit interpreters from the general public as VITA volunteers or network somehow with their community partners. Cities could consider having one location specifically for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and incorporate an interpreter there as a full time volunteer as an example. This in turn could be a huge marketing tool for the VITA sites.

Each VITA location can also contact their city municipality or inspection department or independent living center for further ADA direction.

Other Accessibility and Accomodation Resources

2010 ADA Standard for Accessible Design  - The U.S. Department of Justice has assembled this official online version of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards) to bring together the information in one easy-to-access location. It provides the scoping and technical requirements for new construction and alterations resulting from the adoption of revised 2010 Standards in the final rules for Title II (28 CFR part 35) and Title III (28 CFR part 36).

ADA Amendments Act of 2008 - In an effort to assist others with information regarding the new ADA Amendments Act, the Southeast Disability and Business Technical Assistance Centers have developed a resource sheet that you can use.  Download the Word or text version at or

Tips to Make Your Printed Material Low-Vision Friendly - Tips from the National Institute on Aging at the National Institutes of Health (NIH):