The ADA and Caregivers: Frequently Asked Questions

From The ADA National Network: For Complete Post, Click Here…

According to a 2015 report, approximately 43.5 million informal (unpaid) caregivers provided care to an adult or child in the previous 12 months. 

Additionally, while individuals with disabilities of any age may need assistance from caregivers, older people are more likely to develop disabilities, and more likely to require personal assistance and support. The population of people over the age of 65 is projected to increase significantly in the coming decades, likely resulting in a greater need for caregivers, both paid and unpaid.

How is the ADA relevant to caregivers and individuals with disabilities who need their assistance and support?

State and local government agencies (called “public entities”) and private businesses like stores, restaurants, movie theaters, amusements parks, etc. (called “places of public accommodation”) need to do a number of things to make sure people with disabilities can access goods and services, including:

  • Provide aids and services to communicate effectively with individuals who have hearing, vision, or speech disabilities (e.g., read labels or tags aloud, describe items, provide materials in large print, Braille, or electronic formats for individuals who are blind or have low vision; exchange written notes, provide assistive listening devices, sign language interpreters, or captioning services for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing);
  • Make “reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures” to ensure equal opportunities.
    • This means public entities or businesses may need to do things a little differently or adjust rules, on an individual, case-by-case basis, so that a person with a disability can access services or participate in programs. This may include accommodating a caregiver who is providing assistance to a person with a disability.  

This fact sheet addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about the ADA and caregivers.

Are businesses required to provide a personal assistant or caregiver for a person with a disability?

Generally, no. Businesses and public entities are not required to provide services of a “personal nature,” such as assistance with eating, toileting, or dressing, although facilities that generally provide such services (e.g., hospitals or child care centers for very young children), must provide services equitably to individuals with disabilities.

However, there are many “reasonable modifications” that may be needed on an individual basis and would not be considered “personal services.” For example:

  • A medical office may need to complete a medical form on behalf of a patient who cannot hold a pen or pencil,
  • A restaurant kitchen may be asked to cut food into smaller pieces before serving, or
  • An employee at a grocery store may need to assist a person with low vision to find products.

Do caregivers and personal assistants get free admission?

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