Accommodations for Special Populations

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SNAP is subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act (RA) of 1973, which protect people who have a physical or mental disability. The ADA and the RA are not limited to people who are “disabled” under SNAP regulations. Therefore, the SNAP office must provide the accommodations required by these laws, even if the applicant is not considered disabled for SNAP purposes. OTDA issued a comprehensive policy directive (06-ADM-05) clarifying local districts’ obligations to provide equal access to persons with disabilities.

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Application in Alternative Format for Those with Disabilities

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SNAP offices must provide the SNAP application in alternative formats when requested, to better assist people with disabilities.

SNAP offices cannot decide that a SNAP applicant should receive an alternate format application; all requests for alternative format applications must come directly from the individual, either verbally or in writing, and must be documented in the case record.

Individuals are not allowed to request combinations of alternative format notices, but they may change the type of alternative format they are receiving at any time.

SNAP offices must:

  • Provide alternative format applications upon request without requiring medical documentation, and cannot deny a request for them.
  • Make both the alternative and non-alternative application available to consumers requesting an alternative format version.
  • Advise individuals requesting notices in alternative formats that these are provided in addition to the non-alternative format notice, and not in place of it. In cases where there is a designated authorized representative, both the head of the household and the authorized representative will receive the primary notice and the alternative format notice.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations to assist the individual when requested. For example, a SNAP office may allow the information to be provided orally to a SNAP office employee or designee, who then puts the information into the non-alternative application format.

Most alternative formats are for informational purposes only. Individuals using an alternative format deemed for informational purposes only must complete and submit their SNAP application using a non-alternative format application.

The following alternative formats cannot be submitted as an application for SNAP benefits:

  • Audio disc—an audio transcription of the form
  • Large print—18-point font
  • Braille

The only alternative format SNAP application that can be submitted to apply for SNAP benefits, and must be accepted by SNAP offices, is:

  • Data disc, an audio transcription of the form, available in a “fillable” format. For it to be an acceptable written application, the applicant must:
    • complete it
    • print it
    • sign it

Note: Fillable format applications cannot be submitted or signed electronically.

All OTDA-generated notices using the Client Notice System include a banner advising SNAP recipients of the availability of alternative format notices and other written materials. View and download complete list of materials available in alternative formats.

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People Who Do Not Speak English

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People who do not speak English or have limited English proficiency (LEP) often have difficulty navigating the SNAP application process. They cannot be denied access to SNAP because of that.

All SNAP offices should have an assigned LEP contact responsible for monitoring, investigating and resolving LEP applicants’ complaints.

In New York State, the SNAP application form is available in:

  • English
  • Arabic
  • Spanish
  • Traditional Chinese
  • Russian
  • Haitian-Creole
  • Korean
  • Bengali
  • French
  • Italian
  • Polish
  • Urdu
  • Yiddish

SNAP offices should have applications on hand in all thirteen languages.

SNAP offices must:

  • Have an “Interpreter Services” poster in their waiting areas, which has information in many different languages about the availability of translation services.
  • Provide a translator or interpreter to any applicant who needs one.

If the SNAP office does not have an interpreter or bilingual worker on staff, they should make other arrangements to provide translation services. Households can bring their own interpreter, but only if they wish to do so. New York City has special requirements to ensure that LEP households have access to translation services.

Gender Identity and Pronouns Use for Applicants

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To foster respectful and appropriate customer services for individuals applying for SNAP in NYS there have been computer upgrades to document gender identity other than male or female, and to collect an applicant’s or recipient’s (A/Rs) pronoun.

Pronouns include “he,” “she,” “they,” or any other pronoun indicated by the A/R. The SNAP worker must ask A/Rs what pronouns they prefer and enter this into the case file. This includes using multiple pronouns.

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