Question: One point your presentations make is that documentation serves multiple purposes. What are they? -- Richard, Miss.

Answer: You know that line from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” that goes, “He’s making a list and checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty and nice?” That’s exactly what the U.S. Justice Department’s Project Civic Access and plaintiffs lawyers do when considering a potential action.

Use the same strategy to minimize your agency’s chances of becoming a defendant. When you Google directions, you get a map with step-by-step directions and helpful hints to avoid missing an exit or turn that would keep you from reaching your destination.

Achieving accessibility for everyone in your community is a journey that never ends. These helpful hints will keep you on track as you strive for successful outcomes.

1. Checklists and documentation should address all issues, topics, and areas covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

2. Keep a record of complaints, community involvement, surveys or other research, transition plan timeline and outcomes, required processes and procedures, and budget requests for each action item.

3. Include planned improvements, corrections, retrofits, and/or new construction in all budgets, such as current year, five-year, 10-year, etc.

4. Develop policies and procedures for addressing employee-related issues such as reasonable accommodation and training, documenting response to requests and/or complaints and outcomes, new regulations, and facility improvements for employee access.

5. Policies and procedures should cover meetings, celebrations, and all assembly-related activities and include a checklist for documenting complaints, improvements needed, and accomplishments.

6. Keep a list of community involvement efforts such as a Disability Advisory Committee or outreach to local senior citizens and educational groups. Include school representatives, parents, and disability experts.

7. The checklist for facility improvements should include complaints, plans for achieving accessibility, and outcomes (completed improvements or, if something couldn’t be implemented, what happened and why).

8. Keep the same checklist for streets and sidewalks.

9. Judicial and law enforcement issues are essential for accessibility issues.

10. The most important thing is have documentation and checklists that are maintained and kept current. Should your agency face a lawsuit, that paperwork is your best weapon.

The following websites will help you get started on developing appropriate checklists and effective documentation.

· Compliance in general

· Employment

· Housing

· Streets, sidewalks, and transportation

Good luck!