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Chapter 4: Specific Requirements

Italicized text was added to the original Title III Technical Assistance Manual through supplements issued in 1993 and 1994.

Regulatory references: 28 CFR 36.301-36.310.

III-4.1000 Eligibility criteria

III-4.1100 General.

A public accommodation may not impose eligibility criteria that either screen out or tend to screen out persons with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying any goods, services, privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered to individuals without disabilities, unless it can show that such requirements are necessary for the provision of the goods, services, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.

ILLUSTRATION 1: A restaurant has an unofficial policy of seating individuals with visible disabilities in the least desirable parts of the restaurant. This policy violates the ADA because it establishes an eligibility criterion that discriminates against individuals with certain disabilities and that is not necessary for the operation of the restaurant. The restaurant may not justify its policy on the basis of the preferences of its other customers.

ILLUSTRATION 2: A parking garage refuses to allow vans to park inside even though the garage has adequate roof clearance and space for vans. Although the garage operator does not intend to discriminate against individuals with disabilities, the garage's policy unnecessarily tends to screen out people with certain mobility impairments who, in order to have enough space for mobility aids such as wheelchairs, use vans rather than cars.

ILLUSTRATION 3: A cruise ship subject to the ADA discovers that an individual who uses a wheelchair has made a reservation for a cruise and plans to travel independently. The cruise line notifies the individual that she must bring a "traveling companion" or her reservation will be cancelled. Requiring a traveling companion as an eligibility criterion violates the ADA, unless the cruise line demonstrates that its policy is necessary for some compelling reason.

ILLUSTRATION 4: A committee reviews applications from physicians seeking “admitting privileges” at a privately owned hospital. The hospital requires all applicants, no matter their specialty, to meet certain physical and mental health qualifications, because the hospital believes they will promote the safe and efficient delivery of medical care. The hospital must be able to show that the specific qualifications imposed are necessary.

ILLUSTRATION 5: A retail store has a policy of permitting only customers with driver's licenses to write checks for purchases. Customers without driver's licenses must complete credit applications before their checks will be accepted. This policy places an unnecessary burden on persons who have disabilities that prevent them from obtaining driver's licenses. The store must therefore allow customers who cannot obtain driver's licenses due to disability to present state identification cards for check- verification purposes.

III-4.1200 Safety.

A public accommodation may impose legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation. However, the public accommodation must ensure that its safety requirements are based on real risks, not on speculation, stereotypes, or generalizations about individuals with disabilities.

ILLUSTRATION: A wilderness tour company may require participants to meet a necessary level of swimming proficiency in order to participate in a rafting expedition.

III-4.1300 Unnecessary inquiries.

The ADA prohibits unnecessary inquiries into the existence of a disability.

ILLUSTRATION 1: A private summer camp requires parents to fill out a questionnaire and to submit medical documentation regarding their children's ability to participate in various camp activities. The questionnaire is acceptable if the summer camp can demonstrate that each piece of information requested is needed to ensure safe participation in camp activities. The camp, however, may not use this information to screen out children with disabilities from admittance to the camp.

ILLUSTRATION 2: A retail store requires applicants for a store credit card to supply information regarding their physical or mental health history. This policy violates the ADA because such information is not relevant to a determination of credit worthiness.

III-4.1400 Surcharges.

Although compliance may result in some additional cost, a public accommodation may not place a surcharge only on particular individuals with disabilities or groups of individuals with disabilities to cover these expenses.

ILLUSTRATION 1: The ABC pharmacy is located on the second floor of an older four-story building that does not have an elevator. Because the pharmacy's owner has determined that providing physical access to the pharmacy for those unable to climb stairs would not be readily achievable, she has chosen to provide home delivery as a readily achievable alternative to barrier removal. The pharmacy may not charge an individual who uses a wheelchair for the cost of providing home delivery.

ILLUSTRATION 2: In order to ensure effective communication with a deaf patient during an office visit, a doctor arranges for the services of a sign language interpreter. The cost of the interpreter's services must be absorbed by the doctor.

ILLUSTRATION 3: A community civic association arranges to provide interpreting services for a deaf individual wishing to attend a business seminar sponsored by the organization in rented space at a local motel. The interpreting service requires the organization to provide payment in full prior to the seminar. Due to a business emergency, the individual is unable to attend. The organization may not charge the deaf individual for the cost of the unused interpreting services.