"I hear the train a comin’; It’s rolling round the bend..."
Johnny Cash didn’t listen to his mama when he was told to always be a good boy, and don’t ever play with guns. Instead as the song goes, he shot a man just to see him die, and as a result, spent some time in Folsom Prison wishing he had listened to his mama.
If you own a business that deals with the public, listen to your mama now as the ADA train is coming down the track in the form of extensive changes to Title III of the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA). Find out what you will need to do to comply with this new set of rules and guidelines.
Those businesses affected by this Act, defined as “places of public accommodation” and “commercial facilities” include over five million private establishments, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, convention centers, retail stores, shopping centers, dry cleaners, laundromats, pharmacies, doctors' offices, hospitals, museums, libraries, parks, zoos, amusement parks, private schools, day care centers, health spas, and bowling alleys. Odds are, if you are open to the public, you will need to identify and comply with the new rule as it takes effect in the near future.
These changes include the adoption of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design which provides for revised design standards that are focused on fully implementing the Architectural Barriers Act and associated guidelines published by the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board. These changes will require modifications to existing property and buildings.
The new rule further defines what a “service animal” is, and what accommodations need to be made by a business in welcoming guests with service animals, and also in dealing with guests who claim that their pet python or iguana is a service animal. This is a positive step in assisting businesses in dealing with this issue.
In the era of mobility devices, additional guidance is given as to what a business must do as it respects both traditional mobility devices, such as walkers and wheelchairs, and other more modern devices such as Segways. The rule requires that a business provide full accommodation to the more traditional devices, and provides guidance as to what extent accommodation is required for other mobility devices.
Additionally the new rule requires the implementation of new procedures for businesses when providing reservations to individuals with disabilities, new requirements for ticket sales to events providing accessible seating to those with disabilities, and also guidelines as to the release and pricing of those tickets. Under auxiliary aids and services, businesses are charged with the responsibility of making sure that those with disabilities are not denied any services or are treated any differently than other individuals when it comes to effective communication with those covered by the act, including the use of interpreters, public telephones, voicemail, and other situations.
These changes will generally be effective within six months after issuance of the rule with a safe harbor provision that may appy that would extend the time for compliance for up to 18 months.