ADA & A.T.:
What The Final Title III Regulations Say

By Robert R. Williams

This article is reprinted from the A.T. Quarterly, Volume 3, Number 2 (1992)

In previous issues of the A.T. Quarterly, we summarized the major requirements in the Americans with Disabilities Act's Titles I and II final rules relating to the use of assistive technology by individuals with disabilities. This will do the same for Titles III Public Accomodations provisions of the law and suggest A.T. Action Steps for carrying them out effectively. The rules prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in all places of public accomodations.

These include such places of business as banks, stores, restuarants, theaters, day care centers, private schools, doctor and other professional offices and require: (1) All new places of public accomodations and commercial facilities be designed and constructed to be accessible; (2) Public accomodations take positive steps to eliminate discriminatory policies, practices and barriers (e.g., through providing auxiliary aids, modifying policies, barrier removal, etc.); and, (3) Courses and exams related to professional/trade certification or licensing be made accessible to persons with disabilities. These rules -- like the ones for Titles I and II of ADA -- took effect on January 26, 1992.

Auxiliary Aids & Services:

The Title III rules provisions regarding auxiliary aids and services parallel but are slightly different from those in the Title II rules discussed in the last ATQ. Therefore, like in the a prime purpose for a public accommodation to provide needed auxiliary aids and services is to ensure that equally effective communication takes place between persons with hearing, speech and vision disabilities and others. But it further indicate that "a public accommodation shall take those steps that may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently from other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services" unless doing so would pose an undue burden for it.

A.T. Action Step:

Offer information and assistance on ways in which a wide range of assistive technology can be used by public accomodations to effectively communicate with individuals with hearing, speech and vision disabilities.

Department of Justice (DOJ) does not view the use of some forms of emerging technology (e.g., voice recognition systems, automatic dialing telephones, infrared and other light control systems) as auxiliary aids or services needed to for effective communication. But it does suggests that these devices might be viewed as a means of "making services, programs or activities accessible to, or usable by, individuals with mobility or manual dexterity impairments".

A.T. Action Step:

Provide public accomodations with practical, cost-effective examples of ways in which a wide range of assistive technology can be used in this manner. A possible example might include using voice recognition to activate a computerized public information service.

Public accomodations are not required to provide auxiliary aids or devices that are primarily for the personal use of the individual with a disability. However, a public accommodation should provide an individual with a disability with an auxiliary aid or device that enable them to take advantage of or benefit from its services but might otherwise be considered primarily for their personal use. For example, a nonprofit literacy organization would not be required to purchase an communication device for one of its students who happens to have a speech or writing disability. But it would be required to lease such an communication device to enable that student to take advantage of or benefit from its services.

A.T. Action Step:

Provide advice to public accomodations on how assistive devices -- that may appear to be for personal use only -- can be leased to enable individuals with disabilities to take advantage of or benefit from their services.

Maintenance of Accessible Features:

This section requires an entity to maintain in operable working condition accessibility features to the maximum extent feasible.

A.T. Action Step:

Provide advice to public accomodations on how to best maintain assistive devices and other accessibility features in top working condition.

Readily Achievable Access in Existing Buildings:

A public accommodation must make its existing facilities barrier free when it is "readily achievable" to do so. Barrier removal is considered to be "readily achievable" when it can be easily accomplished without causing much difficulty or expense to the public accommodation.

A.T. Action Step:

Advise public accomodations on using assistive technology to make existing facilities accessible to those with disabilities (e.g., using portable ramps or inexpensive elevettes to make the exterior or interior of an existing facility accessible) without causing much difficulty or expense.

New Construction and Alterations:

This section requires that: 1. Each facility or part of a facility built on or after January 26, 1992 be designed and constructed to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. Those renovated on or after the same date also must be altered to be readily accessible. Historic properties renovated on or after January 26, 1992 are to be altered to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities to the maximum extent feasible.

A.T. Action Step:

Share examples with public services on how AT can be used to accomplish all three tasks (e.g., using infrared and/or voice-recognition in new or renovated buildings to permit easy access to elevators or telescopic devices to permit the viewing of historic landmarks that otherwise might be inaccessible to most.

The A.T. Quarterly was a newsletter developed by the RESNA TA Project under a contract with the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), U.S. Department of Education (ED). The content, however, does not necessarily reflect the position or policy of NIDRR/ED and no official endorsement of the material should be inferred.

RESNA TA Project
1700 North Moore Street, Suite 1540
Arlington, VA 22209-1903
Phone: 703-524-6686 | Fax: 703-524-6630 | TTY: 703-524-6639