One of the main functions of the Regional ADA Centers is to provide technical assistance to callers who have questions related to the ADA. Our information specialists’ field calls about a wide variety of topics. We receive calls from architects, property owners, employers, individuals with disabilities, and others. In return, we provide technical assistance by outlining what the ADA says and how to apply it to different situations.
Today I wanted to share with you the top three topics for which technical assistance is requested at the Rocky Mountain ADA Center. The topics are broad and the specific questions within each topic run the gamut.
1. Facility Access
The ADA ensures equal access to the built environment for people with disabilities. There are standards for both new construction and alterations to existing facilities. The US Access Board is the agency that develops the accessibility guidelines and standards. These standards can be found the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The guidelines apply to any place of public accommodation: hotels, retail stores, courtrooms, playgrounds, hospitals, etc.
First, the 2010 Standards outline scoping requirements. These are the when, where, and how many of each element that must be in place. There are requirements for the number of entrances, parking spaces, and accessible restrooms. There are also standards for the widths and heights for doors, sinks, windows, etc.
We work with many architects and engineers as they plan new construction or renovations. We are always encouraged when we can consult with architects at the beginning of the project. Yet, far too often, contact happens once construction has is complete and a complaint has been filed.
2. Title III
Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination based on disability in any public accommodation. A public accommodation can be defined as most businesses or buildings that offer goods or services to the general public. A public accommodation can include a wide range of entities, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers. This is not an exhaustive list!
Title III says that individuals with disabilities are to be given an equal opportunity to take part in or benefit from goods and services. For example, a public entity should not deny the benefit of a music concert because a person is deaf or hard of hearing. Or, an individual using a wheelchair cannot be excluded from an exercise class because they may not receive the same results as those without disabilities.
Public entities must also make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures to accommodate people with disabilities. An accommodation is not required if it will fundamentally alter the goods, services or operation of a public accommodation.
Many of the Title III calls we receive center around how to accommodate individuals with disabilities in places of public accommodation. Sadly, many of these calls are from individuals with disabilities who believe they have been discriminated against. In these cases, we refer callers to advocacy and legal agencies.
3. Service Animals
A service animal can be any dog (or miniature horse) that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. A public accommodation can ask two questions to determine if the animal qualifies as a service animal. The first is “Is this animal required because of a disability?” and the second is “What work or task has the animal been trained to perform?”
Service animals are such a hot topic! So much so, that we have had many other blog posts about service animals. With so much confusion about the difference between a service animal, emotional support animal, and a therapy animal it’s no wonder we receive inquiries about service animals daily!
For more information about the ADA or to have your question answered, call us at 1-800-949-4232!