Title III – Public Accomodations
Title III specifies that no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of public accommodations. In the past, only businesses and service agencies receiving federal monies were required to make their facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. Title III, however, mandates the accessibility of all services, even those privately owned, and requires that all new places of public accommodation and commercial facilities be designed and constructed so as to be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.
Examples of “Public Accommodations” include:
- Public gathering places (restaurants, bars, movie theaters)
- Places of lodging (hotels, motels, inns)
- Retail stores
- Social service centers.
In providing goods and services, a public accommodation may not use eligibility requirements that exclude or segregate individuals with disabilities, unless the requirements are “necessary” for the operation of the public accommodation.Title III also requires public accommodations to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures, unless those modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the services provided by the public accommodation. For example,the proprietors of a dimly-lit “romantic” restaurant would not have to increase their lighting to accommodate a person with visual impairment, since doing so would destroy the intended ambience of the business. Here, the use of an “auxiliary aid” (for example, a policy requiring staff to read the menu to customers needing assistance) would insure that the establishment remains in compliance. In terms of physical accessibility, all new buildings must adhere to the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). Owners of existing public accommodation facilities must remove physical barriers when it is “readily achievable” to do so (that is, when it can be accomplished easily and without much expense).