Columbia, South Carolina




TO:              All Employees

SUBJECT:   Nondiscrimination on Basis of Handicap

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides that, "No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States . . . , shall, solely by -reason of his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance."

There are three major areas of responsibility with reference to Section 504:

I.   Employment practices,

2.   Accessibility of physical facilities to the handicapped, and

3.   Accessibility of programs and services to the handicapped

I .        Employment Practices

With reference to employment, the term "handicapped individual" is defined as "any person who (A) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities including, but not limited to caring for himself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working (B) has a record of such an impairment, or (C) is regarded as having such impairment."

The impact of this part of the regulation is that "in all phases of employment, each handicapped person must receive exactly the same treatment he or she would have received if he or she had not been handicapped". It shall be the responsibility of all supervisors and employees to insure that all handicapped applicants are given equal consideration for vacancies with non-handicapped applicants and that all handicapped employees are treated the same as all non-handicapped employees. Additionally, employers are required to make "reasonable accommodation" for the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified applicant or employee. Examples of reasonable accommddatiort might be raising or lowering a desk, adding an amplifier to the telephone, making facilities more accessible by modifying or eliminating physical barriers, or restructuring jobs by shifting non-essential tasks. When a handicapped person is not qualified to perform a particular job, where reasonable accommodation does not overcome the effect of the handicap, or where accommodation would cause undue hardship to the employer, failure to hire or promote the handicapped person will not be considered discrimination.

The departmental Personnel Office shall be responsible for insuring that all areas of the department comply with the regulations in-Section 504 with reference to handicapped employees and shall investigate all complaints of discrimination against handicapped employees.

Employees who feel they have been discriminated against because of a handicap may contact the departmental Personnel Office for advice and assistance and they my also utilize the departmental grievance procedure for discrimination complaints.

II.      Accessibility of Physical Facilities

The Division of Engineering and Planning shall be responsible for insuring that the physical facilities of the Department of Mental Health comply with the Section 504 regulations regarding physical accessibility of facilities. Each facility shall cooperate with the Division of Engineering and Planning in reviewing their physical facilities and making whatever structural changes are necessary.

III.     Program Accessibility

The Division of Planned Systems Change shall be responsible for insuring that all programs and services offered by the Department are available to all individuals,including handicapped individuals.

The above three sections shall be responsible for preparing whatever reports may be necessary in order to comply with Section 504. Any individual having any questions regarding Section 504 should contact the appropriate section mentioned above for assistance.

As further information regarding the 504 regulations becomes available, it will be forwarded to affected individuals. All employees of the department will be expected to assist in the implementation and compliance of these regulations.

Hall Signature

April 19, 1978