June 24, 1998
The Honorable Phil Gramm
United States Senator
2323 Bryan Street, #2150
Dallas, Texas 75201
Dear Senator Gramm:
This letter is in response to your correspondence on behalf of your constituent Janelle Culberson who is the Manager of the Best Western Irish Inn in Shamrock, Texas. Ms. Culberson requested a copy of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and inquired whether it was required that they install a teletypewriter (TTY, also known as a telecommunication device for the deaf). We apologize for the delay in responding.
Disability Rights Section staff contacted Ms. Culberson and was informed that the Inn was constructed in 1977, well before the passage of the ADA. As an existing place of public accommodation, the Irish Inn, among other things, is obligated to remove communication barriers that are structural in nature, where such removal is readily achievable; to provide auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication; and to ensure generally that individuals are not denied, on the basis of disability, an equal opportunity to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, and facilities of the hotel. See generally 28 C.F.R. §§ 36.202, 36.303, 36.304.
Accordingly, if the hotel offers its customers the opportunity to make outgoing telephone calls on "more than an incidental convenience basis," such as providing in-room telephone service for its guests, the hotel must make TTYs
available on request in private guest rooms. A hotel also is required to have a TTY at the front desk on request so that guests with hearing or speech impairments can contact the front desk from their rooms. However, as an existing place of public accommodation, the hotel is not obliged to provide TTYs in common areas such as lobbies.
I have enclosed copies of the ADA, as well as the Department of Justice's implementing regulations (28 CFR, part 36) and Technical Assistance Manual that applies to hotels, the ADA Guide for Small Businesses, and a list of other technical assistance materials that may be helpful to your constituent. I have enclosed a second copy of these documents for your files.
I hope that this information is helpful to both you and your constituent. If Ms. Culberson has additional questions about the ADA, she may call our toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301. As you requested, we are returning your constituent's correspondence.
Bill Lann Lee
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division