Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, entertainment venues must make certain specific accommodations to make their events accessible to disabled persons. Some states may require further accommodations in addition to those required by the federal regulations. As of 2014, federal standards are covered in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.
The intent of the accessible seating guidelines in the ADA is to provide an entertainment experience to persons in wheelchairs that is "substantially equivalent" to what other members of the audience experience. Thus, accessible seats should allow equivalent lines of sight, viewing angles and choice of locations to seats available to the general public, including a percentage of seats provided in luxury boxes or suites.
The ADA bases the number of accessible seats required on the number of total seats at the venue. Section 220.127.116.11 of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design provides specific numbers and calculations to determine the number of seats required. The venue must set aside one companion seat for every wheelchair-accessible space. At least 5 percent of the total aisle seats in the venue must comply with accessibility guidelines for people who are mobility-impaired but don't require wheelchair spaces.
The guidelines detail the physical specifics of ADA seating, including compliant aisle seats, under section 802. In general, wheelchair spaces must be at least 36 inches wide and 48 inches deep if they can be entered from the front or rear. If two or more spaces are side-by-side, each space must be 33 inches wide. If the only access to the space is from the side, it must be at least 60 inches deep. Section 802 also provides guidance regarding seat elevation, lines of sight and companion seating.
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