OSERS formulates policy, directs and coordinates the administration of programs for special education to meet the needs and develop the full potential of children with disabilities and for programs for independent living and vocational rehabilitation services to reduce human dependency and restore the productive capabilities of persons with disabilities. The Office also administers grants to increase knowledge about, foster innovation in, and improve the delivery of services for disabled persons through research and demonstration activities. The Office disseminates information about services, programs, and laws affecting disabled persons.
This Office is located primarily in the Mary E. Switzer Building in Washington, D.C., and in the Regional Offices.
At RSA and NIDRR, late deafened adults with significant hearing loss who may not be able to benefit from the services of interpreters because of the lack of skills necessary to utilize this auxiliary aid, may be restricted in their participation in the program if alternative auxiliary aids, such as CART or CAN, are not available, often because of the cost.
Staff throughout OSERS are aware that it may be necessary to modify program policies or practices to enable persons with disabilities to participate in and benefit from the program although not all staff are aware of the specific modifications needed or available. However, because of the nature of the services this Office provides concerning people with disabilities, the provision of auxiliary aids and accommodations is expected and almost routinely provided. Similarly, the public is informed that programs are prepared to make reasonable modifications. Federal Register notices, job announcements, meeting announcements, and peer reviewer solicitations and orientations contain information on the availability of alternative formats and reasonable accommodations. All OSERS contractors have been notified of their responsibilities regarding Section 504 nondiscrimination and access requirements.
OSERS informs individuals that TTYs and sign language interpreters are available. Most notices regarding meetings, conferences, and peer review information request that participants indicate special accommodation needs. RSA disseminates a fact sheet to the employees describing the services provided. Advertisements in Office newsletters list the communication aids and services available. Information about the availability of interpreter services is included, but it is rarely mentioned that ALD's or CART systems are available for use by individuals that rely on these types of services. Individuals are made aware of the availability of such aids by verbal exchange, telephone conversation, and occasionally in writing (letters and announcements, for example).
OSERS informs its customers about the availability of alternative formats and reasonable accommodations as part of the routine invitational process in program brochures and through oral communication and direct correspondence. OSERS routinely captions its videotapes, and has a number of TTYs installed in various offices with several people trained to use them. Persons who request auxiliary aids or accommodations generally have their first preference fulfilled by OSERS; otherwise OSERS will work with requesters to determine a means effectively to communicate the information. OSERS asks the people it serves for evaluations of its efforts to provide communications aids.