December 3, 1998
The Honorable William D. Delahunt
Member, U.S. House of Representatives
15 Cottage Avenue
Quincy, Massachusetts 02169
Dear Congressman Delahunt:
I am responding to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, xxxxxxxx xxxx. Ms. xxxx asked you to determine if the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991 (ADA) may be interpreted to require places of public accommodation, such as shopping malls, to provide wheelchairs or other motorized vehicles for the use of their customers. Please excuse our delay in responding.
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the operation of places of public accommodation such as retail stores. This requirement is implemented through regulations published by the Department of Justice in title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Copies of this regulation and the Title III Technical Assistance Manual are enclosed.
The title III regulation generally requires public accommodations to make reasonable modifications in their policies or practices when the modifications are necessary to enable people with disabilities to benefit from the goods, services, or facilities offered. Public accommodations are also required to remove architectural, communication, and transportation barriers to access if it is readily achievable to do so. However, the regulation specifically provides that a public accommodation is not required to provide its customers or clients with personal devices, such as wheelchairs.
I hope that this information is helpful to you in responding to Ms. Levy. Please do not hesitate to contact the Department if we can be of assistance in other matters.
Bill Lann Lee
Civil Rights Division