FAQ: Businesses and Places of Public Accommodation/Title III

Question:

I reserved a hotel room with a tub and grab bars, but when I checked in to my room, I had a roll-in shower. Can a hotel change the kind of accessible accommodation from the one I reserved?

Answer:

Hotels and covered places of lodging under Title III must hold the specific accessible guest room requested for the customer and remove it from the reservation system. This is one of the changes of the revised Title III regulations from the Department of Justice regarding places of lodging that took effect March 15 2012. To learn more about the new requirements, visit the Northeast ADA Center's factsheet on the revised lodging regulations here.

Question:

I own a pizza shop. I would like to alter my entrance with a step to make it more accessible, but business is down and money is tight. Are there any programs to help me pay for the alteration?

Answer:

To help small businesses to comply with the ADA, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Code includes a Disabled Access Credit (Section 44) for businesses with 30 or fewer full-time employees or with total revenues of $1 million or less in the previous tax year. The credit can be up to 50% of cost from $250 to $10,250 with a maximum credit of $5,000. Eligible expenses may include the cost of undertaking barrier removal and alterations to improve accessibility, accommodating employees, providing sign language interpreters, or making material available in accessible formats such as Braille or large print.

Section 190 of the IRS Code provides a tax deduction for businesses of all sizes for costs incurred in removing architectural or transportation barriers in existing facilities or alterations. The maximum deduction is $15,000 per year.

There may also be tax credits or deductions in state tax codes.  For more details about these tax incentives, visit: http://www.adainfo.org/content/tax-incentives-businesses

Question:

I am a doctor with a small practice. A patient has requested to have a sign language interpreter for her appointment. Must I provide this service?

Answer:

When you decide how to meet Title III's requirement for effective communication, you should look at the length and complexity of the interaction. If the patient was simply dropping off paperwork, then written notes or other improvised forms of communication may be appropriate. If a patient is coming in for an appointment or to discuss results of some test, then the nature of the communication is different. It is more in depth and any miscommunication could potentially create negative consequences. Title III entities, such as a doctor's office, must furnish auxiliary aids when necessary to ensure effective communication, unless an undue burden or fundamental alteration would result.

While providing a qualified interpreter will cost some money, it would be difficult for a doctor's office to claim an undue financial burden. Also, extra charges may not be imposed on individuals with disabilities to cover the costs of measures necessary to ensure nondiscriminatory treatment, such as interpreters.

Question:

I have a neuromuscular disability and must use a wheelchair. At my gym, I was not allowed to participate in the yoga class because I cannot get down and up from the floor. Is this legal?

Answer:

The ADA is an equal opportunity law and this is true for entities covered under Title III of the ADA. Title III covers public accommodations. Public accommodations are places such as gyms, stadiums, theaters, medical facilities, daycare centers, most places of lodging, gas stations, restaurants, and stores.  While the ADA does not guarantee equal results or benefits from a public accommodation's regular program, you do have the right to equal participation. The gym cannot legally bar you from joining in the class because of your disability. If the gym decides to offer an accessible yoga program as an alternative, you can choose to take that class. However, you still have the right to participate in the standard class.

Question:

When barrier removal is not readily achievable, what kinds of alternative steps are required by the ADA?

Answer:

When barrier removal is not readily achievable, a business must provide "program access". This means they need to find other ways to make their services and goods available and accessible to individuals with disabilities. Examples of program access might include providing home delivery, curb-side pick up, online and/or telephone ordering options, onsite assistance with selecting or carrying merchandise, etc.

Question:

What does the term "readily achievable" mean?

Answer:

It means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."

Question:

What does the ADA mean by "public accommodations"?

Answer:

A public accommodation is a private entity that owns, operates, leases, or leases to, a place of public accommodation. Places of public accommodation 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. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt from the ADA's title III requirements for public accommodations.