[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 7, Volume 1]
[Revised as of January 1, 2005]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 7CFR15e.101]
 
[Page 420]
 
                          TITLE 7--AGRICULTURE
 
PART 15e_ENFORCEMENT OF NONDISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF DISABILITY IN 
 
Sec. 15e.101  Purpose.
 
PROGRAMS OR ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED BY THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF 
AGRICULTURE--Table of Contents
 
 
Sec.
15e.101 Purpose.
15e.102 Application.
15e.103 Definitions.
15e.104-15e.109 [Reserved]
15e.110 Self-evaluation.
15e.111 Notice.
15e.112-15e.129 [Reserved]
15e.130 General prohibitions against discrimination.
15e.131-15e.139 [Reserved]
15e.140 Employment.
15e.141-15e.148 [Reserved]
15e.149 Program accessibility: Discrimination prohibited.
15e.150 Program accessibility: Existing facilities.
15e.151 Program accessibility: New construction and alterations.
15e.152-15e.159 [Reserved]
15e.160 Communications.
15e.161-15e.169 [Reserved]
15e.170 Compliance procedures
15e.171-15e.999 [Reserved]
 
    Authority: 29 U.S.C. 794.
 
    Source: 58 FR 57697, 57699, Oct. 26, 1993, unless otherwise noted.
 
 
    The purpose of this part is to effectuate section 119 of the 
Rehabilitation, Comprehensive Services, and Developmental Disabilities 
Amendments of 1978, which amended section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act 
of 1973 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs 
or activities conducted by Executive agencies or the United States 
Postal Service.
 
 
 
 
Sec. 15e.102  Application.
 
    This part (Sec. Sec. 15e.101--15e.170) applies to all programs or 
activities conducted by the agency, except for programs or activities 
conducted outside the United States that do not involve individuals with disabilities in the United States.
 
Sec. 15e.103  Definitions.
 
    For purposes of this part, the term--
    Assistant Attorney General means the Assistant Attorney General, 
Civil Rights Division, United States Department of Justice.
    Auxiliary aids means services or devices that enable persons with 
impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills to have an equal 
opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, programs or 
activities conducted by the agency. For example, auxiliary aids useful 
for persons with impaired vision include readers, Brailled materials, 
audio recordings, and other similar services and devices. Auxiliary aids useful for persons with impaired hearing include telephone handset 
amplifiers, telephones compatible with hearing aids, telecommunication 
devices for deaf persons (TTD's), interpreters, notetakers, written 
materials, and other similar services and devices.
    Complete complaint means a written statement that contains the 
complainant's name and address and describes the agency's alleged 
discriminatory action in sufficient detail to inform the agency of the 
nature and date of the alleged violation of section 504. It shall be 
signed by the complainant or by someone authorized to do so on his or 
her behalf. Complaints filed on behalf of classes or third parties shall 
describe or identify (by name, if possible) the alleged victims of 
discrimination.
    Facility means all or any portion of buildings, structures, 
equipment, roads, walks, parking lots, rolling stock or other 
conveyances, or other real or personal property.
    Historic preservation programs means programs conducted by the 
agency that have preservation of historic properties as a primary 
purpose.
    Historic properties means those properties that are listed or 
eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or 
properties designated as historic under a statute of the appropriate 
State or local government body.
    Individual with disabilities means any person who has a physical or 
mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life 
activities, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having 
such an impairment. As used in this definition, the phrase:
    (1) Physical or mental impairment includes--
    (i) Any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, 
or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: 
Neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, 
including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; 
genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; and endocrine; or
    (ii) Any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental 
retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and 
specific learning disabilities. The term ``physical or mental 
impairment'' includes, but is not limited to, such diseases and 
conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairments, 
cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, 
cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental retardation, emotional illness, 
HIV disease (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic), and drug addiction 
and alcoholism.
    (2) Major life activities include functions such as caring for one's 
self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, 
breathing, learning, and working.
    (3) Has a record of such an impairment means has a history of, or 
has been misclassified as having, a mental or physical impairment that 
substantially limits one or more major life activities.
    (4) Is regarded as having an impairment means--
    (i) Has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially 
limit major life activities but is treated by the agency as constituting 
such a limitation;
    (ii) Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits 
major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of others toward 
such impairment; or
    (iii) Has none of the impairments defined in paragraph (1) of this 
definition but is treated by the agency as having such an impairment.
    Qualified individual with a disability means--
    (1) With respect to preschool, elementary, or secondary education 
services provided by the agency, an individual with disability who is a 
member of a class of persons otherwise entitled by statute, regulation, or agency 
policy to receive education services from the agency;
    (2) With respect to any other agency program or activity under which 
a person is required to perform services or to achieve a level of 
accomplishment, an individual with a disability who meets the essential 
eligibility requirements and who can achieve the purpose of the program 
or activity without modifications in the program or activity that the 
agency can demonstrate would result in a fundamental alteration in its 
nature;
    (3) With respect to any other program or activity, an individual 
with a disability who meets the essential eligibility requirements for 
participation in, or receipt of benefits from, that program or activity; 
and
    (4) Qualified person with a disability as that term is defined for 
purposes of employment in 29 CFR 1614.203(a)(6), which is made 
applicable to this part by Sec. 15e.140.
    Section 504 means section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 
(Pub. L. 93-112, 87 Stat. 394 (29 U.S.C. 794)), as amended. As used in 
this part, section 504 applies only to programs or activities conducted 
by Executive agencies and not to federally assisted programs.
    Substantial impairment means a significant loss of the integrity of 
finished materials, design quality, or special character resulting from 
a permanent alteration.
 
Sec. 15e.110  Self-evaluation.
 
    (a) The agency shall, by November 28, 1994, evaluate its current 
policies and practices, and the effects thereof, that do not or may not 
meet the requirements of this part and, to the extent modification of 
any such policies and practices is required, the agency shall proceed to 
make the necessary modifications.
    (b) The agency shall provide an opportunity to interested persons, 
including individuals with disabilities or organizations representing 
individuals with disabilities, to participate in the self-evaluation 
process by submitting comments (both oral and written).
    (c) The agency shall, for at least three years following completion 
of the self-evaluation, maintain on file and make available for public 
inspection:
    (1) A description of areas examined and any problems identified; and
    (2) A description of any modifications made.
 
 
Sec. 15e.111  Notice.
 
    The agency shall make available to employees, applicants, 
participants, beneficiaries, and other interested persons such 
information regarding the provisions of this part and its applicability 
to the programs or activities conducted by the agency, and make such 
information available to them in such manner as the head of the agency 
finds necessary to apprise such persons of the protections against 
discrimination assured them by section 504 and this part.
 
Sec. 15e.130  General prohibitions against discrimination.
 
    (a) No qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity conducted by the agency.
    (b)(1) The agency, in providing any aid, benefit, or service, may 
not, directly or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements, 
on the basis of disability--
    (i) Deny a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in or benefit from the aid, benefit, or service;
    (ii) Afford a qualified individual with a disability an opportunity to participate in or benefit from the aid, benefit, or service that is not equal to that afforded others;
    (iii) Provide a qualified individual with a disability with an aid, 
benefit, or service that is not as effective in according equal 
opportunity to obtain the same result, to gain the same benefit, or to 
reach the same level of achievement as that provided to others;
    (iv) Provide different or separate aid, benefits, or services to 
individuals with disabilities or to any class of individuals with disabilities than is provided to others unless such action is necessary to provide qualified individuals with disabilities with aid, benefits, or services that are as effective as those provided to others;
    (v) Deny a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate as a member of planning or advisory boards;
    (vi) Otherwise limit a qualified individual with a disability in the enjoyment of any right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity enjoyed by others receiving the aid, benefit, or service.
    (2) The agency may not deny a qualified individual with a disability the opportunity to participate in programs or activities that are no separate or different, despite the existence of permissibly separate or different programs or activities.
    (3) The agency may not, directly or through contractual or other 
arrangements, utilize criteria or methods of administration the purpose 
or effect of which would--
    (i) Subject qualified individuals with disabilities to discrimination on the basis of disability or
    (ii) Defeat or substantially impair accomplishment of the objectives of a program or activity with respect to individuals with disabilities.
    (4) The agency may not, in determining the site or location of a 
facility, make selections the purpose or effect of which would--
    (i) Exclude individuals with disabilities from, deny them the benefits of, or otherwise subject them to discrimination under any program or activity conducted by the agency; or
    (ii) Defeat or substantially impair the accomplishment of the 
objectives of a program or activity with respect to individuals with 
disabilities.
    (5) The agency, in the selection of procurement contractors, may not use criteria that subject qualified individuals with disabilities to discrimination on the basis of disability.
    (6) The agency may not administer a licensing or certification 
program in a manner that subjects qualified individuals with disabilities to discrimination on the basis of disabilit, nor may the agency establish requirements for the programs or activities of licensees or certified entities that subject qualified individuals with disabilities to discrimination on the basis of disability. However, the programs or activities of entities that are licensed or certified by the agency are not, themselves, covered by this part.
    (c) The exclusion of persons who do not have disabilities from the benefits of a program limited by Federal statute or Executive order to individuals with disabilities or the exclusion of a specific class of individuals with disabilities from a program limited by Federal statute or Executive order to a different class of individuals with disabilities is not prohibited by this part.
    (d) The agency shall administer programs and activities in the most 
integrated setting appropriate to the needs of qualified individuals 
with disabilities.
 
Sec. 15e.140  Employment.
 
    No qualified individual with a disability shall, on the basis of 
disability, be subjected to discrimination in employment under any program or activity conducted by the agency. The definitions, requirements, and procedures of section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 
791), as established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 
29 CFR part 1614, shall apply to employment in federally conducted 
programs or activities.
 
Sec. 15e.149  Program accessibility: Discrimination prohibited.
 
    Except as otherwise provided in Sec. 15e.150, no qualified 
individual with a disability shall, because the agency's facilities are 
inaccessible to or unusable by individuals with disabilities, be denied the benefits of, be excluded from participation in, or otherwise be 
subjected to discrimination under any program or activity conducted by 
the agency.
 
Sec. 15e.150  Program accessibility: Existing facilities.
 
    (a) General. The agency shall operate each program or activity so 
that the program or activity, when viewed in its entirety, is readily 
accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. This paragraph does not--
    (1) Necessarily require the agency to make each of its existing 
facilities accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities;
    (2) In the case of historic preservation programs, require the 
agency to take any action that would result in a substantial impairment 
of significant historic features of an historic property; or
    (3) Require the agency to take any action that it can demonstrate 
would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of a program or 
activity or in undue financial and administrative burdens. In those 
circumstances where agency personnel believe that the proposed action 
would fundamentally alter the program or activity or would result in 
undue financial and administrative burdens, the agency has the burden of proving that compliance with Sec. 15e.150(a) would result in such 
alteration or burdens. The decision that compliance would result in such alteration or burdens must be made by the agency head or his or her designee after considering all agency resources available for use in the funding and operation of the conducted program or activity, and must be accompanied by a written statement of the reasons for reaching that conclusion. If an action would result in such an alteration or such burdens, the agency shall take any other action that result in such an alteration or such burdens but would nevertheless ensure that 
individuals with disabilities receive the benefits and services of the 
program or activity.
    (b) Methods.--(1) General. The agency may comply with the 
requirements of this section through such means as redesign of 
equipment, reassignment of services to accessible buildings, assignment 
of aides to beneficiaries, home visits, delivery of services at 
alternate accessible sites, alteration of existing facilities and 
construction of new facilities, use of accessible rolling stock, or any 
other methods that result in making its programs or activities readily 
accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. The agency is not required to make structural changes in existing facilities where 
other methods are effective in achieving compliance with this section. 
The agency, in making alterations to existing buildings, shall meet 
accessibility requirements to the extent compelled by the Architectural 
Barriers Act of 1968, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4151-4157), and any 
regulations implementing it. In choosing among available methods for 
meeting the requirements of this section, the agency shall give priority 
to those methods that offer programs and activities to qualified 
individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate.
    (2) Historic preservation programs. In meeting the requirements of 
Sec. 15e.150(a) in historic preservation programs, the agency shall 
give priority to methods that provide physical access to individuals 
with disabilities. In cases where a physical alteration to an historic 
property is not required because of Sec. 15e.150(a)(2) or (a)(3), 
alternative methods of achieving program accessibility include--
    (i) Using audio-visual materials and devices to depict those 
portions of an historic property that cannot otherwise be made 
accessible;
    (ii) Assigning persons to guide individuals with disabilities into or through portions of historic properties that cannot otherwise be made accessible; or
    (iii) Adopting other innovative methods.
    (c) Time period for compliance. The agency shall comply with the 
obligations established under this section by January 24, 1994, except 
that where structural changes in facilities are undertaken, such changes 
shall be made by November 26, 1996, but in any event as expeditiously as 
possible.
    (d) Transition plan. In the event that structural changes to 
facilities will be undertaken to achieve program accessibility, the 
agency shall develop, by May 26, 1994, a transition plan setting forth 
the steps necessary to complete such changes. The agency shall provide 
an opportunity to interested persons, including individuals with 
disabilities or organizations representing individuals with disabilities, to participate in the development of the transition plan by submitting comments (both oral and written). A copy of the transition plan shall be made available for public inspection. The plan shall, at a minimum--
    (1) Identify physical obstacles in the agency's facilities that 
limit the accessibility of its programs or activities to individuals 
with disabilities;
    (2) Describe in detail the methods that will be used to make the 
facilities accessible;
    (3) Specify the schedule for taking the steps necessary to achieve 
compliance with this section and, if the time period of the transition 
plan is longer than one year, identify steps that will be taken during 
each year of the transition period; and
    (4) Indicate the official responsible for implementation of the 
plan.
 
 
Sec. 15e.151  Program accessibility: New construction and alterations.
 
    Each building or part of a building that is constructed or altered 
by, on behalf of, or for the use of the agency shall be designed, 
constructed, or altered so as to be readily accessible to and usable by 
individuals with disabilities. The definitions, requirements, and standards of the Architectural Barriers Act (42 U.S.C. 4151-4157), as established in 41 CFR 101-19.600 to 101-19.607, apply to buildings covered by this section.

 

Sec. 15e.160  Communications.
 
    (a) The agency shall take appropriate steps to ensure effective 
communication with applicants, participants, personnel of other Federal 
entities, and members of the public.
    (1) The agency shall furnish appropriate auxiliary aids where 
necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in, and enjoy the benefits of, a program or activity conducted by the agency.
    (i) In determining what type of auxiliary aid is necessary, the 
agency shall give primary consideration to the requests of the 
individual with disability.
    (ii) The agency need not provide individually prescribed devices, 
readers for personal use or study, or other devices of a personal 
nature.
    (2) Where the agency communicates with applicants and beneficiaries 
by telephone, telecommunication devices for deaf persons (TDD's) or 
equally effective telecommunication systems shall be used to communicate 
with persons with impaired hearing.
    (b) The agency shall ensure that interested persons, including 
persons with impaired vision or hearing, can obtain information as to 
the existence and location of accessible services, activities, and 
facilities.
    (c) The agency shall provide signage at a primary entrance to each 
of its inaccessible facilities, directing users to a location at which 
they can obtain information about accessible facilities. The 
international symbol for accessibility shall be used at each primary 
entrance of an accessible facility.
    (d) This section does not require the agency to take any action that 
it can demonstrate would result in a fundamental alteration in the 
nature of a program or activity or in undue financial and administrative 
burdens. In those circumstances where agency personnel believe that the 
proposed action would fundamentally alter the program or activity or 
would result in undue financial and administrative burdens, the agency 
has the burden of proving that compliance with Sec. 15e.160 would 
result in such alteration or burdens. The decision that compliance would 
result in such alteration or burdens must be made by the agency head or 
his or her designee after considering all agency resources available for 
use in the funding and operation of the conducted program or activity 
and must be accompanied by a written statement of the reasons for 
reaching that conclusion. If an action required to comply with this 
section would result in such an alteration or such burdens, the agency 
shall take any other action that would not result in such an alteration 
or such burdens but would nevertheless ensure that, to the maximum 
extent possible, individuals with disabilities receive the benefits and 
services of the program or activity.
 
 
Sec. 15e.170  Compliance procedures.
 
    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, this 
section applies to all allegations of discrimination on the basis of 
disability in programs and activities conducted by the agency.
    (b) The agency shall process complaints alleging violations of 
section 504 with respect to employment according to the procedures 
established by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 29 CFR 
part 1614 pursuant to section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 
U.S.C. 791).
    (c) The Director, Office of Advocacy and Enterprise, shall be 
responsible for coordinating implementation of this section and shall 
make the determinations described in paragraph (g) of this section. 
Complaints may be sent to Office of Advocacy and Enterprise, U.S. 
Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250.
    (d) The agency shall accept and investigate all complete complaints 
for which it has jurisdiction. All complete complaints must be filed 
within 180 days of the alleged act of discrimination. The agency may 
extend this time period for good cause.
    (e) If the agency receives a complaint over which it does not have 
jurisdiction, it shall promptly notify the complainant and shall make 
reasonable efforts to refer the complaint to the appropriate Government 
entity.
    (f) The agency shall notify the Architectural and Transportation 
Barriers Compliance Board upon receipt of any complaint alleging that a 
building or facility that is subject to the Architectural Barriers Act 
of 1968, as amended (42 U.S.C. 4151-4157), is not readily accessible to 
and usable by individuals with a disability.
    (g) Within 180 days of the receipt of a complete complaint for which 
it has jurisdiction, the agency shall notify the complainant of the 
results of the investigation in a letter containing--
    (1) Findings of fact and conclusions of law;
    (2) A description of a remedy for each violation found; and
    (3) A notice of the right to appeal.
    (h) Appeals of the findings of fact and conclusions of law or 
remedies must be filed by the complainant within 90 days of receipt from 
the agency of the letter required by Sec. 15e.170(g). The agency may 
extend this time for good cause.
    (i) Timely appeals shall be accepted and processed by the head of 
the agency.
    (j) The head of the agency shall notify the complainant of the 
results of the appeal within 60 days of the receipt of the request. If 
the head of the agency determines that additional information is needed 
from the complainant, he or she shall have 60 days from the date of 
receipt of the additional information to make his or her determination 
on the appeal.
    (k) The time limits cited in paragraphs (g) and (j) of this section 
may be extended with the permission of the Assistant Attorney General.
    (l) The agency may delegate its authority for conducting complaint 
investigations to other Federal agencies, except that the authority for 
making the final determination may not be delegated to another agency.
 
[58 FR 57697, 57699, Oct. 26, 1993, as amended at 58 FR 57697, Oct. 26, 
1993]