The ADA covers the use by the disabled of public and private transportation, buildings and structures open to the public ("public places"). It also prohibits discrimination against disabled individuals in employment practices, such as testing, hiring, discharge and promotion.

What is a "public place"?

A public place is referred to as a "place of public accommodation" in the ADA. Some examples are:

  • a terminal, depot or other station used for specified public transportation
  • a nursery, elementary, secondary, undergraduate or postgraduate private school, or other place of education
  • an inn, hotel, motel or other place of lodging, unless there are less than five rooms available and the proprietor lives on the premises
  • a bakery, grocery store, clothing store, hardware store, shopping center or other sales or rental establishment
  • a Laundromat, dry cleaner, bank, barber shop, beauty shop, travel service, shoe repair service, funeral parlor, gas station, office of an accountant or lawyer, pharmacy, insurance office, professional office of a health care provider, hospital or other service establishment
  • a museum, library, gallery or other place of public display or collection
  • a day care center, senior citizen center, homeless shelter, food bank, adoption agency or other social service center establishment
  • a motion picture house, theater, concert hall, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment
  • an auditorium, convention center, lecture hall or other place of public gathering
  • a gymnasium, health spa, bowling alley, golf course or other place of exercise or recreation

Sidebar: Public places also include premises subject to the Fair Housing Act, such as apartment complexes. The common areas of the complex must be accessible to disabled individuals, visitors and tenants alike.

I am visually impaired, and my cable company refuses to provide me with enhanced services so I can better view certain channels. Do I have an ADA claim?

No. The cable system in your home is not a "public accommodation." It is not a physical location to which you must travel to experience the benefits of a cable TV. You are not being denied or obstructed in your access to a public place since the system is installed directly in your home.

Are private clubs subject to ADA regulations?

No. Places that restrict access to the public are not places of public accommodation.

Example: A film production lot is closed to the public, and a visitor (who must be invited and permitted in by a security guard) cannot make a claim against the film company for discrimination on the basis of his or her disability.

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