The Rehabilitation Act prohibits any program or activity receiving federal funding from discriminating against people with disabilities. It has several sections, each of which concerns a different area of possible discrimination, such as federal workplace practices, architectural barriers, access to programs and services, procurement of electronic and informational goods and services—including websites—and more.
In Chapter 2 of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, scoping requirements detail “what” or “how many” are needed to make something accessible. For example, scoping for a parking lot tells us the number of parking spaces that must be accessible, based on the total number of parking spaces provided. Scoping requirements go hand-in-hand with technical requirements, which are also found in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
Generally, a service animal is an animal that is individually trained to perform a specific task for an individual with a disability. The specific definition, however, varies in different contexts:
Title II and Title III, generally: Under the regulations from the US Department of Justice for Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA), a service animal is a dog that is individually trained to perform a specific task for an individual with a disability. No other types of animals, with the sole exception of a miniature horse, are considered service animals. Service animals are generally allowed wherever the public is permitted to go. This includes restaurants, theaters, hotels, colleges, county social service offices, and medical offices. A special license or certification is not required for a service animal. This definition does not include emotional support as a task.
Title II and the US Department of Transportation (DOT): It is important to know that the DOT uses a different definition of service animal in relation to Title II. This applies to transportation controlled or operated by a state or local government, such as city buses, light rail, and commuter trains. In these circumstances, a service animal is defined by the DOT as “any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability…” In these regulations, a service animal does not necessarily have to be a dog.
Employment: The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does not define a service animal, but a service animal is considered to be a reasonable accommodation, so an employee must request to have their service animal in the workplace.
Fair Housing Act (FHA): Under the FHA, the term assistance animal is used instead of service animal. This law—which is enforced by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development—uses a very different definition. This definition includes what is considered a service animal under the ADA, but it has fewer limitations.
Substantially limits is a term used by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The act uses this term as part of its definition of a disability. To understand the ADA’s definition of disability, you need to know what is meant by “an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” As for the “substantially limits” part of that, substantially limits does not mean a severe condition, but it does mean a condition that creates an impairment when compared to most people in the population. Substantially limits is intended to be understood broadly and not to be restrictive. Determining whether a condition is substantially limiting must be done on a case-by-case basis.
Technical assistance (TA) is guidance and information on understanding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and how it applies to a particular situation. The ADA requires federal agencies that enforce the law to provide technical assistance to all sections of the public.
In the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, a technical requirement is a requirement about how something must be designed and built. Technical requirements are related to scoping requirements—scoping requirements describe “what” or “how many,” and technical requirements provide additional specific information—the “how.” Technical requirements are found in Chapters 3–10 in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
For example, the scoping in Section 213.3.1 of the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design states: “Where toilet compartments are provided, at least one toilet compartment shall comply with 604.8.1.” This gives us the scoping requirement and refers us to the technical requirements in Chapter 6, specifically in Section 604.8.1. In this example, the technical requirements include the exact minimum width and depth of this space.
An undue burden is a requirement of Title II or Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that would cause a significant difficulty or expense if carried out. This means that a state or local government or its agencies, or a business or nonprofit organization covered by the ADA, does not have to provide an auxiliary aid, a service, or a modification, if providing it would cause a significant administrative or financial difficulty. Undue burden is similar to undue hardship under Title I (employment).
When deciding whether something is an undue burden, you have to look at several factors. These factors include the overall cost involved in light of the entire organization and any parent organization, and the operation and nature of the organization. If an auxiliary aid or service is an undue burden, the organization must look for an effective alternative. For example, if a small, private museum cannot afford to provide a sign language interpreter for a museum tour on short notice, a written copy of the tour guide’s script might be an alternative.
Under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an undue hardship is an accommodation that would cause a significant difficulty to an employer. To determine whether an accommodation would cause an undue hardship, you have to consider the resources and circumstances of the particular employer in relation to the cost or difficulty of providing the specific accommodation. Undue hardship is similar to undue burden under Title II (state and local government) and Title III (businesses and nonprofit organizations that are open to the public).
The US Access Board is a federal agency that plays a leading role in the creation of accessibility standards. The Access Board describes itself like this on its website:
The Access Board is an independent federal agency that promotes equality for people with disabilities through leadership in accessible design and the development of accessibility guidelines and standards. Created in 1973 to ensure access to federally funded facilities, the Board is now a leading source of information on accessible design. …The Board is structured to function as a coordinating body among federal agencies and to directly represent the public, particularly people with disabilities. Twelve of its members are representatives from most of the federal departments. Thirteen others are members of the public appointed by the President, a majority of whom must have a .
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