Americans with Disabilities Act

Requirements in public accommodations fact sheet

On January 26, 1992, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), (42 U.S.C. Section 12101 et seq.) went into effect. As a provider of education activities approved for California MCLE credit, we urge you to investigate your duties under the ADA.


Public accommodations such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers, may not discriminate on the basis of disability. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt. Reasonable changes in policies, practices, and procedures must be made to avoid discrimination.

Auxiliary Aids

Auxiliary aids and services must be provided to include individuals with vision or hearing impairments or other individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would result.

Physical Barriers

Physical barriers in existing facilities must be removed, if removal is readily achievable. If not, alternative methods of providing the services must be offered, if they are readily achievable.

All new construction in public accommodations, as well as in "commercial facilities" such as office buildings, must be accessible. Elevators are generally not required in buildings under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping center, mall, or a professional office of a health care provider.

Alterations must be accessible. When alterations to primary function areas are made, and accessible path of travel to the altered area (and the bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the area) must be provided to the extent that the added accessibility costs are not disproportionate to the overall cost of the alterations. Elevators are required as described above.

Entities such as hotel that also offer transportation must generally provide equivalent transportation service to individuals with disabilities. New fixed-route vehicles capable of carrying more than 16 passengers must be accessible.


Individuals may bring private lawsuits to obtain court orders to stop discrimination, but money damages cannot be awarded. Individuals can also file complaints with the Attorney General who may file lawsuits to stop discrimination and obtain money damages and penalties.

This information is available in the following accessible formats:

Electronic Bulletin Board
Large Print
Electronic File on Computer

For more information on the ADA contact:

US Department of Justice/Civil Rights Division/Disability Rights Section
P.0. Box 66118
Washington DC 20035-6118
202-514-0301 (Voice)
202-514-0383 (TDD)