ADA summary & resources

Here is a brief summary of the Americans with Disabilities Act as it impacts restaurants specifically.  Several resource links are also included to help restaurants comply.

Title I — Employment 

Title I of the ADA outlines the following requirements:

  • Employers with 15 or more employees may not discriminate against qualified persons with disabilities.
  • Employers may reasonably accommodate the disabilities of qualified applicants or employees, unless an undue hardship would result.
  • Employers may reject applicants or fire employees who pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the work place.
  • Applicants and employees are not protected from personnel actions based on their current illegal use of drugs. Drug testing is not affected.
  • Employers may not discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee because of the known disability of an individual with whom the applicant or employee is known to have a relationship or association.

Title III — Public accommodations
Title III prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation. (This includes restaurants and hotels, but exempts private clubs and organizations.) Their experience must mirror what is available to other patrons, i.e., "in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of the individual."

Giving a disabled person full access to public accommodations may involve three issues:

  • The removal of barriers;
  • The modification of policies, practices, and procedures (such as serving the bar menu in another, accessible part of the restaurant);
  • The providing of auxiliary aids and services, such as a menu in large type for someone with poor vision. Note: Restaurants are not required to have Brailled menus if a waiter or other employee is made available to read the menu for a blind customer.

Examples of barriers to remove include: Installing ramps; rearranging tables and chairs; repositioning telephones; widening doors; installing grab bars in toilet stalls and rearranging toilet partitions to increase maneuvering space; insulating lavatory pipes under sinks to prevent burns; creating designated accessible parking spaces; installing an accessible cup dispenser near an existing inaccessible water fountain; and removing high-pile, low-density carpeting.

Additional resources


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