August 15, 1997
The Honorable Philip M. Crane
Member, U.S. House of Representatives
300 North Milwaukee Avenue
Lake Villa, Illinois 60046
Dear Congressman Crane:
I am responding to your letter on behalf of your constituent, Ms. xxxxxxxxxxxxx, regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) to the changes in rules for a fencing tournament that Ms. xxxxxxx has participated in with the Society for Creative Anachronism (Society). Please excuse our delay in responding.
Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation. 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a). The term "operate" includes sponsorship of competitions and tournaments. A "place of public accommodation" includes places of public gathering (e.g., auditoriums, convention centers, lecture halls), places of recreation (e.g., parks, zoos, amusement parks), and places of exercise (e.g., gymnasiums). Thus, if the fencing tournament is held in a place of public accommodation then the Society, as a sponsor, organizer, and administrator of the fencing tournament, may be covered by title III of the ADA.
Title III requires, among other things, that covered entities make reasonable modifications to their policies, practices, and procedures when necessary to ensure that individuals with disabilities have equal access to goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations. However, title III does not require a covered entity to make any modification that would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered.
I have enclosed a copy of the regulation implementing title III of the ADA for your reference. I hope this information is helpful to you in responding to your constituent.
Isabelle Katz Pinzler Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division