Reasonable Modifications

Seyfarth Synopsis: Pennsylvania court rules that a museum violated the ADA when it refused to waive the entry fee for a guest’s personal care assistant. 

A federal district court judge in Pennsylvania court recently held that Title III of the ADA required the Franklin Institute (“FI”) to waive the admission fee for the personal care

(Photo) BushBy Kevin Fritz

This Sunday, July 26, marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In the spirit of anniversary of this important law, here are 25 simple ways to make your business more accessible to customers with disabilities, and provide a great experience for them and their friends and/or family members:

By Minh Vu and Paul Kehoe

Since we reported that the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued its proposed regulations last month concerning the definition of a “disability” under Titles II (applicable to state and local governments) and III (applicable to public accommodations) of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), we have received a number of inquiries about the regulations’ impact and whether clients need to take any action.  We share here our initial thoughts.

Background and Key Provisions.  The proposed regulations implement the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) which amended the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).  Congress passed the ADAAA in response to several court decisions, including from the Supreme Court, that narrowly interpreted the definition of “disability.”   The point of the ADAAA, according to the DOJ, was to “mak[e] it easier for an individual seeking protection under the ADA to establish that he or she has a disability within the meaning of the statute.”

In March 2011, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) issued its final regulations to implement the ADAAA’s requirements for Title I of the ADA, which prohibits disability discrimination by employers.  These DOJ proposed regulations will implement ADAAA requirements for Titles II and III of the ADA, which prohibit discrimination in state and local programs and by public accommodations, respectively.  DOJ’s proposed regulations closely track the statutory requirements of the ADAAA and the EEOC’s final regulations.

The ADAAA did not change the ADA’s definition of disability, which continues to be:
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By Minh Vu and Paul Kehoe

Many individuals with disabilities are choosing other power-driven mobility devices (OPMDs) such as Segways™ over traditional wheelchairs and scooters to provide them with enhanced mobility.  In response, as we previously reported, the Department of Justice (DOJ) amended its regulations in 2010 to require businesses to allow the use of OPMDs in their facilities unless the business can establish that the particular OPMD cannot be operated safely within any particular facility.  Three years later, businesses still have very little practical guidance from the courts and DOJ about when they may limit the use of these devices.

The regulations specify that businesses must analyze five factors to determine whether they must allow a particular OPMD to be used in a specific facility, including (i) the type, size, weight, dimensions and speed of the device, (ii) the facility’s pedestrian traffic, (iii) the facility’s design and operational characteristics, (iv) whether legitimate safety requirements can be established to permit the safe operation of another OPMD in that facility, and (v) whether the use of that OPMD creates a substantial environmental harm or conflicts with federal land management laws.  But there is little guidance on how to apply these factors to specific situations.

The DOJ’s position is that “in the vast majority of circumstances,” public accommodations would have to admit Segways™ and other OPMDs.  In its technical guidance document, ADA Update, A Primer for Small Businesses, the DOJ encourages businesses to develop written policies based on these factors specifying when OPMDs will be permitted on their premises and to communicate those policies to the public.  However, it does not give examples of scenarios in which OPMDs can be excluded, other than to say a business may be able to limit OPMD use at certain times of the day when a facility has a high volume of pedestrian traffic.


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By Minh N. Vu

We often hear from commercial landlords that they are not concerned about whether their tenant spaces are accessible because their leases place the obligation for complying with accessibility laws such as Title III of the ADA on the tenants.  A recent decision from the federal district court in Northern California makes

By Minh N. Vu

Owners of commercial facilities and developers of multifamily housing should take note of an alarming trend:  Some courts are not allowing owners and developers to sue their architects and consultants for designing facilities that do not comply Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Fair Housing Act (FHA) accessibility requirements.

The most

By Eden Anderson

On July 25, 2012, Judge Joseph Spero of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California issued an opinion in Gregory Pilling v. Alameda Park Street Bicycle, Inc., et al., Case No. C-12-02186-JCS which serves as a reminder to all public accommodations of the obligation to make “reasonable

We proudly announce the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s publication of the first-of-its kind Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Guide for Lodging Owners and Operators, authored by Minh N. Vu with contributions from Karen StephensonKristina Launey, and Laura Robinson.  The AH&LA developed this comprehensive, 80-page, guide to provide owners and

By Minh N. Vu

Must restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, and other public accommodations allow individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by miniature horses that perform work or tasks related to their disabilities?  In new ADA Title III regulations published on September 15, 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said yes, subject to a few limitations.  According