ADA and Lodging Webinar Series
March 7, 2012
Moderator – Chip Rogers
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Webinar Series Schedule
February 15 - Impact of the 2010 ADA Standards on the Design and Construction of Lodging Facilities
February 22 - Impact of the 2010 ADA Standards on the Design and Construction of Lodging Facilities
February 29 – Managing Reservations for Accessible Rooms
March 2 – Serving Customers with Disabilities – Equal Access
March 9 – Communicating with Customers with Disabilities-Understanding Your Obligations!
March 16 – Series Wrap-Up! Last Chance to Ask Your Questions
Serving Customers with Disabilities: Equal Access for Everyone!
Marian Vessels, Director
Mid-Atlantic ADA Center
Jacquie Brennan, Attorney
Policies, practices, procedures
Facilitate equal opportunities
Not required to “fundamentally alter” the nature of goods or services
May not impose surcharges
Examples of Other Requests to Consider
Beds with open frame, or at a height suitable for transfer from wheelchair
Refrain from using scented products (e.g. air fresheners) in individual’s room during stay
Examples of Other Requests to Consider, cont.
Refrigeration for medicine storage
Removal of furniture in hotel for access
Providing navigational guidance to those with visual disabilities
Traditional wheelchairs (manually operated or power-driven), including “scooters,” and other manually
operated mobility devices (canes, walkers, etc.) must be permitted in any pedestrian area
“Other power-driven mobility devices” (OPDMDs) may need to be permitted
Other power-driven mobility device means any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other
engines – whether or not designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities – that is
used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion
This includes golf cars, electronic personal assistance mobility devices (EPAMDs), such as the Segway®
PT, or any mobility device designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes, but that is
not a wheelchair within the meaning of this section.
Determining whether or when to permit the use of an OPDMD, consider …
Assessment Factor 1
Type, size, weight, dimensions, and speed of device
Assessment Factor 2
The facility’s volume of pedestrian traffic (which may vary at different times of the day, week, month, or
Assessment Factor 3
The facility’s design and operational characteristics (e.g., indoor vs. outdoor settings, square footage and
maneuvering space, availability of storage for the device, if needed)
Assessment Factor 4
Legitimate safety requirements
Assessment Factor 5
Potential for substantial risk of serious harm to the immediate environment or natural or cultural
What Can You Ask OPDMD Users?
May NOT ask the nature or extent of disability, but may ask for “credible assurance” that device is
needed because of disability
State-issued disability parking permit or other state-issued proof of disability
“Verbal representation, not contradicted by observable fact”
Service Animals in
Places of Lodging
People with disabilities may use service animals and comfort animals for a variety of reasons. The right
to do so is guaranteed by several different federal laws, such as:
Fair Housing Act
Air Carrier Access Act
These rights are often misunderstood -- both by people who use service animals and comfort animals,
and by the entities that have obligations under those laws.
Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of
an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental
The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler’s disability.
Examples of “work or tasks”
Assisting individuals with vision disabilities with navigation,
Alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds,
Providing non-violent protection or rescue work,
Pulling a wheelchair, or
Assisting a person during a seizure.
Alerting individuals to the presence of allergens,
Retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone,
Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability for people with mobility disabilities,
Helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or
Comfort animals are not service animals.
The ADA says that the crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional
support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for purposes of the ADA
Types of Animals
Hearing or Signal Dogs
Psychiatric Service Animals
Seizure Response Dogs
Therapy or Comfort Animals
Let’s talk about each of these
Guide dog, dog guide, or Seeing EyeⓇ dog.
Carefully trained dog that serves as a travel tool for persons with severe visual impairments or who are
Hearing or Signal Dog
A dog that has been trained to alert a person with significant hearing loss or who is deaf to specific
Psychiatric Service Dog
Dog that is trained to perform a variety of tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the
onset of psychiatric episodes and ameliorate their effects.
Tasks may include reminding the handler to take medicine, providing safety checks, or room searches, or
turning on lights for persons with PTSD, interrupting self-mutilation by persons with dissociative identity
disorders, and keeping disoriented individuals from dangers.
A dog trained to assist a person with autism.
Alerts the handler to distracting repetitive movements common among individuals with autism, allowing
the person a chance to stop the movement.
Individuals with autism may have problems with sensory input and need the same support services that
a dog might provide to a person who is blind or deaf.
Seizure Response Dog
A dog who is trained to assist a person who has a seizure disorder.
How the dog does this task depends on the person’s individual needs.
The dog may stand guard over the person during the seizure, or the dog may go for help. A few dogs
have somehow learned to predict a seizure and will warn the person of an impending seizure.
Comfort, emotional support, or therapy animals are not defined by federal law.
Federal laws do not require that places that have a “no pets” policy allow comfort animals.
It does not matter if a person has a note from a doctor that states that the person has a disability and
needs to have the comfort animal for emotional support.
A doctor’s note does not turn a comfort animal into a service animal.
Animals other than dogs
The ADA regulations now make it clear that animals other than dogs are specifically excluded from the
definition of service animals.
There is, however, one exception.
May be considered a service animal if individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of
the individual with a disability.
There are things the facility may take into consideration, however.
The facility may consider:
the type, size, weight of miniature horse;
whether the facility can accommodate;
whether handler has sufficient control;
whether miniature horse is housebroken;
whether the horse’s presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements
necessary for safe operation.
Service animals must be under the handler’s control at all times.
If the animal is out of control, and the handler does not take effective action to control it, it may be
More on control
A service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either:
the handler is unable, because of a disability, to use a tether, or
use of the tether would interfere with the animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in
which case the animals must be under the handler’s control using voice control, signals, or other
It is very unusual for a service animal to display any disruptive behavior.
A facility may deny access to a service animal if its behavior is not acceptable or if the handler does not
have control of the service animal.
Uncontrollable barking, jumping on other people, growling menacingly, and running away from the
handler are examples of disruptive behavior.
If the service animal’s behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others, then the facility
can exclude the service animal.
This determination must be made based on the threatening behavior of a specific animal, rather than on
generalized fears or previous bad experiences with other animals.
There is no requirement that a service animal wear a particular kind of vest, badge, label, or designation
that it is a service animal. The handler need not furnish proof that the animal is a service animal.
No Pets Policy
Even if the facility has a “no pets” policy, it may not deny entry to a person with a service animal.
Service animals are not pets.
A “no pets” policy is legal, but it does not allow the facility to exclude service animals.
Places of Lodging
Places of lodging are covered by Title III of the ADA.
Under Title III of the ADA, individuals with disabilities who use service animals have rights.
Service animals must be allowed to accompany the handler to any place in the facility where the public
is allowed to be.
What you may not ask
A facility may not ask about the nature or extent of a person’s disability.
A facility may not ask for documentation or proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed
as a service animal.
What you may ask
IF it is not apparent that an animal is trained to do work or perform
tasks for a person with a disability, then the facility may ask two questions only:
Is the animal required because of a disability?
What work or tasks has the animal been trained to perform?
Reactions of Others
Sometimes employees or other travelers might be afraid of service animals.
It helps, of course, that the service animal is generally tethered or otherwise controlled by the handler.
It is likely possible that the service animal and the person who is afraid can avoid being near one
The reaction of others cannot be used as a reason for excluding service dogs.
A facility cannot ask even those two questions if it is readily apparent that an animal is trained to do
work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.
Those questions cannot be asked if the dog is guiding a person who is blind, pulling a person’s
wheelchair, or providing assistance with stability to a person with an observable mobility impairment.
A facility may not ask or require a person with a disability to pay a surcharge or deposit, even if people
with pets have to pay those fees.
But if a facility usually charges people for damages they, or their pets, cause, then it may charge for
damage caused by a service animal.
Title III of the ADA can be enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, or through private lawsuits in
Department of Justice
Regulations, fact sheets, etc.
ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business
Business Leadership Network
Business Leadership Networks (www.usbln.com) established across the country strive to reach
businesses of all sizes to share strategies on marketing to customers with disabilities, as well as best
hiring practices, human resources training expertise, and information on qualified applicants with
Hospitality and Disability Initiative
Customer service training materials for hotel and restaurant staff
Information, publications, and resources
Regional ADA Centers
Thank you for participating in the ADA and Lodging Webinar Series
Communicating with Customers with Disabilities-Understanding Your Obligations!
March 14, 2012
2:00pm EST/1:00pm CST/12:00pm MST/ 11:00am PST
This session was recorded. The archive will be available on-line at: