Public Entities Must Adopt Reasonable Accommodation Policies for Disabled Persons
Posted: 23 Jan 2012 07:46 AM PST
Recent changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act require a public entity to adopt policies related to the use of mobility assistance devices and the use of service animals as reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities.
The regulations interpreting Title II of the ADA prohibit discrimination in program accessibility:
[N]o qualified individual with a disability shall, because a public entity=s facilities are inaccessible to or unusable by individuals with disabilities, be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of a public entity, or be subjected to discrimination by any public entity. 28 C.F.R. '35.149.
The regulations also provide for program accessibility in existing facilities:
A public entity shall operate each service, program, or activity so that the service, program, or activity, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. 28 C.F.R. '35.150(a).
For people who require assistance in the form of mobility devices or service animals, the adoption and implementation of policies that make a public entity’s services, programs and activities more inclusive help meet the obligations of the Act.
In putting together these policies, a public entity should make sure that any exclusion of either type of accommodation is based on a particular set of facts after weighing the risks arising from those facts. Generalized fears of potential risks are not an adequate basis for failing to provide a reasonable accommodation. In addition, the policies should provide the public entity with some discretion to use common sense to prevent injuries when there is a direct threat to the safety of patrons.
Post Authored by Adam Simon, Ancel Glink