Requirements in the Private Sector for Goods and Services

Updates to Section 508
July 7, 2015
Updates to Section 503
July 21, 2015

Accessibility has become a very controversial topic as of late. Poor design prevents an estimated 40% of potential users to not be able to fully access most websites and their content because of some sort of disability and wireless devices that have limited web-browsing capabilities. While the needs of wireless devices are being addressed quite rapidly, in sharp contrast, designers are accused of continuing to ignore the needs of various disabilities. Although, this is not the only realm of discrimination, but thanks to the updates of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and specifically Title III, more areas in the private sector are being recognized and are being made accessible for users with disabilities.

Just because a restaurant or other place of business offers a handicapped entrance does not mean that the establishment is accessible to all types of people. Thanks to the new updates to the ADA, public accommodations must provide goods and services in an integrated setting, unless separating or differentiating measures are necessary to ensure patrons with an equal opportunity. Providers must makes unnecessary eligibility standards or rules that deny individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to enjoy the goods and services of an establishment of public accommodation. There are several other requirements that have been updated in the ADA, but the main point of these updates is to provide everyone with the same opportunities to the same goods and services.

Specifically for goods and services, eligibility requirements are no longer an option to exclude or segregate individuals with disabilities, unless the requirements are necessary for the operation of the public accommodations. For example, if a movie theater excludes individuals with cerebral palsy from a movie theater or restricting individuals with Down’s syndrome to only certain areas of a restaurant would be violating the regulation. Requirements that tend to screen out individuals with disabilities, such as requiring a blind person to produce a driver’s license as the sole means of identification for cashing a check, are also prohibited. Safety requirements may be imposed only if they are necessary for the safe operation of a place of public accommodation. They must be based on actual risks and not on mere speculation, stereotypes, or generalizations about individuals with disabilities. Extra charges may not be imposed on individuals with disabilities to cover the cost of measures necessary to ensure nondiscriminatory treatment, such as removing barriers or providing qualified interpreters.

Mainly, there are steps being taken to ensure that all people are given the same treatment in every facet of life. It may be troubling to think about the discrimination done to people with disabilities and efforts to exclude them from everyday life. Thankfully, we’re moving in the right direction toward eliminating the negative stigma associated with a person with disabilities.