Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), providing for equal access for persons with disabilities in places of public accommodation, has made the country far more accessible. Given U.S. Congress’ admirable efforts to provide equal protection to disabled persons, it is extremely important that we are vigilant in ensuring that these protections are afforded in the marketplace. These laws are not enforced by any government agency, and consequently, private law firms like Legal Justice Advocates are available to ensure you and your loved ones can have equal access to the public accommodations and information that is afforded to able-bodied citizens, as Congress intended when drafting these complex and specific laws.
Who Is Protected Under the ADA?
The ADA protects individuals with a wide range of disabilities, defining a disability as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity. The law also covers health impairments that require special education or related services. Some of the most common disabilities and impairments include:
Hearing impairments – A hearing impairment is any type of hearing loss that keeps someone from completely receiving sounds through their ears. When a hearing impairment limits your ability to perform a major life activity, you are protected under ADA.
Vision impairments – Vision impairment may be defined as a loss of visual acuity or a loss of visual field. For people with vision impairments, small objects and standard written materials may be difficult to see.
Mobility impairments – Many types of conditions can impact mobility, including paralysis, stroke, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injury. Mobility impairments may require the use of walkers, wheelchairs, or canes, or limit the use of hands and upper extremities.
Learning disabilities – Learning disabilities are conditions that may make it difficult to acquire and use listening, speaking, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. Examples of learning disabilities include dyslexia, dyspraxia, and dyscalculia.
Special conditions – This includes people with certain conditions and illnesses—such as pregnancy or cancer—that require special schedules and considerations.
What Are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines?
Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are a set of technical standards developed through an open, collaborative process involving both individuals and organizations around the world. Its goal is to provide a single, shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of individuals, organizations, and governments internationally. The WCAG 2.0 AA standards also have been incorporated into an ISO standard by the International Organization for Standardization, but the ISO standard is not law.
What are “public accommodations” under the ADA?
Public accommodations are private businesses, both for-profit and not-for-profit. A place of public accommodation is a facility whose operations affect commerce and falls into at least one of these categories:
- Places of lodging (inns, hotels, or motels);
- Places that serve food or drink (restaurants and bars);
- Places of exhibition or entertainment (theaters, stadiums, arenas);
- Places of public gathering (auditoriums, convention centers);
- Sales or rental establishments (stores, shopping centers);
- Service establishments (banks, beauty shops, repair shops, funeral homes, gas stations, professional offices, pharmacies, hospitals);
- Public transportation terminals, depots or stations;
- Places of public display or collection (museums, libraries, galleries);
- Places of recreation (parks, zoos, amusement parks, gyms, pools);
- Places of education (nursery schools, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate schools, trade or technical schools);
- Social service center establishments (day care centers, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, food banks, adoption agencies);
- Places of exercise or recreation (gyms, spas, golf courses).
Places of public accommodation may not discriminate against people with disabilities and may not deny full and equal enjoyment of the goods and services they offer. A substantial number of businesses still do not comply with the ADA. Because of this non-compliance, the legislature added a provision to the Civil Rights Act providing that any violation of the ADA shall constitute a violation of state law. A Plaintiff may now recover damages plus attorney’s fees for a successful lawsuit under the Act. Our firm specializes in disability access lawsuits. We will fight to ensure that businesses no longer discriminate against the handicapped. At Legal Justice Advocates, we refuse to allow prejudice to prevail. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.