Adjusting for Access: Reasonable Modifications in Policies, Practices, and Procedures

It is important to understand the distinction between policies or practices that are themselves discriminatory, and policies which are neutral but which may need to be modified on a case-by-case basis.

Discriminatory policies are those that specifically exclude people because of disability and are often based on assumptions or generalizations.

Policies that are neutral, on the other hand, may need to be modified only on an individualized, as-needed basis in order to avoid unnecessarily denying opportunities to people with disabilities. The regulations for Title II and/or Title III address several specific examples:

  • Modifying “no pets” or “no animals” policies to allow individuals with disabilities who use service dogs, or in some cases miniature horses, to access public places;
  • Modifying “no vehicles,” “no coasting devices,” or “walk-only zone” policies to enable people with disabilities, in some circumstances, to use non-traditional mobility devices, such as golf carts or Segway® personal transporters;
  • Modify ticket sales and seating procedures for assigned-seat events in assembly areas such as arenas or performance venues, in order to help ensure that accessible seating locations are available for those who need them, and people can get information and purchase tickets for accessible seating the same ways tickets are purchased for other types of seating;
  • Modifying hotel reservation practices to ensure that individuals with disabilities can reserve available guest rooms with specific accessibility features, and be assured the specific rooms will be available upon arrival.

The fact that the regulations address these specific issues does not mean they are the only types of reasonable modifications that may be needed.

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