A major role of the Office of the Secretary and the Office of the Deputy Secretary (OS/ODS) is communication of information and the exchange of ideas with academic institutions, state governments and local communities, parents, teachers, students, and the public. The communication and information exchange is accomplished through speaking engagements by the Secretary and Deputy Secretary and other key staff, by hosting or attending education-related conferences and meetings, and by development and dissemination of printed material, use of electronic media, videos, and other items.
OS/ODS offices are located primarily in Federal Office Building 10B in Washington, D.C, and the Secretary has Regional Representatives in each Regional Office.
When the meetings are hosted by the OS/ODS, the sites are accessible to persons with disabilities and interpreters are provided. Generally, a staff member from the Scheduling and Advance staff in the Secretary's office visits the site well before the meeting to ensure accessibility. Travel and conference arrangements for conferences are made through a travel agency, with the participation of staff members from the Secretary's office and Office of Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs (OIIA). Such meetings and conferences are held at large hotels, which are subject to physical requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Secretary and key staff are invited by academic institutions, state and local governments, businesses, education organizations, etc., to attend meetings and give speeches and presentations on various education topics. Staff members who coordinate these activities normally ask the sponsor if the site is accessible and if interpreters will be provided, but that is not, however, necessarily the deciding factor in accepting or declining an invitation.
The Offices of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary do not deny qualified disabled individuals an opportunity to participate and benefit from any program. At this time, however, OS/ODS cannot guarantee that meetings and conferences hosted by other organizations are always accessible, although it is assumed that most are.
Requests for special accommodations are solicited in the pre-conference literature for meetings hosted by OS/ODS. Any reasonable modification in meeting sites or accessibility is made if financially feasible.
The Office of Public Affairs (OPA) in OS/ODS provides overall direction and coordination of the Department's production and dissemination of information. This is accomplished through audiovisual material, graphics and publications, speeches and other written material, and news products for the media and the general public.
The printed material is disseminated through a variety of media:
News releases are available over a standard telephone line. The general market for this service is the media; however, anyone can call in to receive the latest release aurally. Should a hearing impaired individual need the news release in a visual format, a faxed version can be made available upon request.
Video tapes produced for the Department are produced open captioned. When the Department needs a video tape from an outside source it is requested that the tape be provided in closed captioned format.
The Executive Secretariat in OS replies to correspondence on behalf of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary in hard copy form. Upon request, the office provides the reply in computer readable form. The office provides internal memoranda from the Secretary to Department employees in both hard copy and electronic form, over the Department's computer network.