Enzi Updates Manual on Capitol Accessibility

Posted August 25, 2010 at 2:44pm

Updated: 5:06 p.m.

An updated manual on the accessibility of the Senate offices and the U.S. Capitol complex was released by Sen. Mike Enzi’s office Wednesday.

The manual, which has been published since 2008, was updated in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26. It contains information about tours and parking, as well as etiquette guidelines and evacuation routes for the Capitol, the Capitol Visitor Center and the Senate office buildings.

“This manual will assist Congressional offices in preparing a more comfortable, informative and enjoyable visit for both constituents and visitors,” the Wyoming Republican said in a release.

Updates include new evacuation routes, internal relocation sites and phone numbers.

Enzi’s office worked on the manual with the Architect of the Capitol, the Office of Congressional Accessibility Services and the Office of Police Operations, Security and Emergency Preparedness.

While much of the information can also be applied to House visits, the manual focuses on Senate access. The House doesn’t have a manual specifically detailing its accessibility.

Ironically, the manual itself does not live up to the accessibility measures it describes. It is available as a PDF on the website of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (help.senate.gov), of which Enzi is ranking member. Page 28 of the manual reads, “PDF format should not be used as it cannot be easily accessed by people who use screen readers.”

On that same page, large print guidelines are listed, including, “Do not use columns, bullets, decorative graphics, or boxed texts.” That guideline is a bullet point on a page that has decorative star graphics on its top and bottom.

Enzi’s page of the HELP website states that both the PDF and Microsoft Word document versions are available for download, though neither of the links worked earlier. As of 5 p.m., the links were working.

Craig Orfield, communications director of the HELP Committee, said in an e-mail that “the primary purpose of the guide is for staff and their offices to use as a reference for developing their own resources and procedures to accommodate persons with accessibility needs.”