What Is ADA Seating?

Direction signs for disabled.
••• apichat_naweewong/iStock/Getty Images

ADA seating refers to seating accessible to individuals with disabilities that meets the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. The ADA sets minimum accessibility standards for those structures classified as "public accommodations," as well as for others if they are being altered.

Read More:ADA Hallway Requirements

What Is the ADA?

The ADA is an abbreviation for the Americans with Disabilities Act, a civil rights law that protects individuals with disabilities in many areas of public life. It became law in 1990 and was amended in 2008 in the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act.

The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in jobs, education, transportation, and access to all places and venues open to the general public. Congress's intention in passing the law was to ensure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

The ADA Titles

Title I of the ADA mandates equal employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. It requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, meaning modifications or adjustments to a work environment so these employees can perform essential job functions. Title I is regulated and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination in state and local government services including their departments and agencies. All programs, activities and services of public entities – including public transportation – have to provide equal access for disabled individuals. The U.S. Department of Justice enforces this title.

ADA and Public Accommodation

Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in private places that accommodate the public, termed "public accommodations" in the law. This includes businesses that provide goods or services to the public. The ADA sets out accessibility requirements for many categories of public accommodations.

These encompass nearly all types of businesses that serve the public, no matter the size of the business or how old the buildings. They include:

  • Retail stores. 
  • Shopping malls.
  • Doctors' offices.
  • Dental offices.
  • Restaurants. 
  • Bars.
  • Service establishments. 
  • Schools.
  • Theaters. 
  • Hotels. 
  • Recreational facilities.

Modifications Required to Accommodate Disabilities

Those public accommodations covered by the ADA must change in order to better serve customers with disabilities. They are required to change both the way they do business to equalize treatment of people, regardless of their disability statuses. The design modifications are set out in extensive regulations and include changing business practices, for example, obtaining the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description at a movie patron’s seat whenever showing a digital movie with these features.

Such public accommodations must also remove any architectural barriers in their buildings. They must construct any new structures or modified structures with disability access. Commercial facilities that don't interact directly with the public must only comply with the ADA access requirements in new construction or modification of existing buildings.

ADA Seating Regulations

Department of Justice regulations cover ticketing and accessible seating under the ADA. These regulations apply to Title II (state and local government programs) and Title III entities (private businesses that are places of public accommodations like hotels, restaurants, sports stadiums and concert venues).

The ADA regulations require that these government and private organizations provide accessible seating, meaning seating that individuals with disabilities can use including those who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices and those who require service animals. A venue that sells tickets for assigned seats must also sell assigned-seating tickets for accessible seating, and these tickets must be available during the same hours as general tickets, through the same methods of distribution and in the same types of ticketing sales outlets. The price of tickets for accessible seating must not be higher than the price of other tickets in the same seating section for the same event.

Related Articles