July 31, 2000
The Honorable Mary L. Landrieu
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Landrieu:
This is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, xxxxx xxxx xxxxxxx, identified in your transmittal letter to the U.S. Department of Justice as Landrieu Project No. 130200. Mr. xxxxxxx wrote to request private or public funding for an audit of existing hotel and transportation facilities, to be conducted by an entity that understands the combined requirements of accessibility, usability, and safety. Based upon his personal experience of inaccessible features in hotel rooms and inadequate or nonexistent taxi service, Mr. xxxxxxx feels strongly that past accessibility reviews have been conducted by entities that fail to possess the requisite understanding of these combined requirements.
Applicable ADA Requirements. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), and the implementing regulation issued by this Department, hotels that are newly constructed or altered must generally be "readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities." Standards for accessibility for this purpose were developed only after extensive consultation with persons with disabilities and organizations representing persons with disabilities.
The ADA and the implementing regulation require existing hotels to remove architectural barriers if it is "readily achievable to do so." "Readily achievable" is defined in the implementing regulation as "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense," considering such factors as the nature and cost of the action needed.
The ADA and the implementing regulation issued by the Department of Transportation do not in any way address the number of taxis available in any locality. The ADA does, however, prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in the delivery of taxi services. An example of discrimination of the basis of disability in the delivery of taxi service would be a taxi driver's refusal to accept persons who use service animals as passengers.
The requirements of the ADA with respect to public transportation are more stringent. The ADA does require newly constructed public transit facilities and "key stations" to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Under certain circumstances, the ADA also requires public entities to provide comparable paratransit service for persons with disabilities.
Enforcement of ADA Requirements. The ADA is enforced through the investigation and resolution of individual complaints. In the event that your constituent would like to file a complaint against a specific hotel or hotel chain or against an individual or group of taxi drivers, we have included complaint forms.
The ADA also authorizes this Department to conduct reviews of public accommodations, including hotels. We have used that authority to conduct reviews of newly constructed facilities. Enclosed is a document prepared by this Department entitled "Common ADA Problems at Newly Constructed Lodging Facilities." Nothing in the Act contemplates public funding for private compliance reviews.
We hope this information will be helpful to you in responding to your constituent. As you requested, we are returning your constituent's correspondence. Please do not
hesitate to contact the Department if we can be of assistance in other matters.
Bill Lann Lee
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division