Access to Service, Businesses and Programs

Individuals with physical, sensory, cognitive, and psychiatric disabilities need to have the same opportunity to receive services and engage in business relations, programs, and activities in the same manner as other community members and customers.

Title II

Title II of the ADA indicates that individuals with disabilities should not be discriminated against on the basis of disability in receipt of services, programs, or activities provided by public (state and local government) entities. It also indicates that a public entity must reasonably modify its policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discriminating against citizens with disabilities. In general, a public entity's services, programs, and activities, when viewed in their entirety, must be "readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities", a standard known as "program accessibility". Providing program accessibility is the ideal option when it is not feasible to renovate a building that is inaccessible physically.

To understand more about Program Accessibility for Title II entities, visit the Department of Justice Title II Technical Assistance Manual

Title III

Title III of the ADA covers places of public accommodation, such as stores, restaurants, theaters, private schools, offices engaged in providing a service or business, hotels, fitness centers, etc., and commercial facilities, including facilities not open to the public. Title III also covers private entities primarily engaged in providing transportation, and any exams or courses related to applications, credentialing, or certification. There are some entities that may have some exemptions under Title III, such as private clubs, registered historic facilities, and religious entities. But those exemptions may not apply to all activities and those entities should review the ADA closely to understand what activities or actions are exempt and what are not. In general, a Title III covered entity may not discriminate against an individual with a disability when operating the place of public accommodation. Consumers and patrons with disabilities need to have the same opportunity to receive full and equal benefit of the business's goods, services, and facilities. It is also important to note that Title III entities, unlike Title II ones, must remove architectural and communication barriers to accessibility, when it is "readily achievable to do so", meaning it can be done without significant difficulty or expense. If the barrier removal would not be feasible, then the Title III entity must still make its goods and services available through other means (i.e. if a store or restaurant cannot be made structurally accessible, then consumers with disabilities could be offered the opportunity to order merchandise/food either online or via telephone and then be given the option of home or curbside delivery/take out).

To understand more about barrier removal and alternatives to barrier removal, exemptions, and all other obligations for Title III entities, visit the Department of Justice Title III Technical Assistance Manual.

Additional Resources from the Northeast ADA Center

The Northeast ADA Center has included on this page numerous other resources to aid businesses and places of public accommodation in learning and understanding how to make their establishment more accessible and welcoming to their patrons and consumers with disabilities.

Service Animals

The Department of Justice has issued revised ADA Title II and Title III regulations, which took effect March 15, 2011, that revised the definition of a service animal and added additional provisions. The DOJ, specifically Title II and Title III, define a service animal as being any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability, whether it be a physical, sensory, psychiatric, or other disability. Please note that other laws and federal enforcement agencies, such as the Fair Housing Act, enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Air Carrier Access Act, and other transportation provisions, enforced by the Department of Transportation, and Title I of the ADA, which covers employment and is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, have NOT changed their definition of service animal, nor their provisions. To understand exactly what qualifies as a "service animal" and therefore, what access rights the service animal has within each of these contexts (housing, transportation, the workplace), one should visit those specific laws and provisions for clarity. Here are some additional resources:


Voting Accessibility

The following Voting Accessibility Fact Sheet should help you understand what the various regulations and requirements are around the rights of voters with disabilities and the responsibilities of polling sites to provide physical and programmatic access to citizens with disabilities:

Download Voting Fact Sheets in English
PDF (142kb) | Fact Sheet, PDF Format
HTML (44kb) | Fact Sheet, HTML Format


Español version:
PDF (144kb) | Hojas Informativas, en formato PDF
HTML (147kb) | Hojas Informativas, en formato HTML

Relevant Archived Webinars:

The Northeast ADA Center has several archives of webinar presentations on business access, as well as other related topics. All slides, transcripts, and audio/visual presentation archives can be accessed free of charge by anyone. Access all archived webinars on business access at on the Webinar Archives pages.

Other Useful Links:

Department of Justice

The Department of Justice (DOJ) enforces the business services and local & state government regulations of the ADA. The DOJ's publication "ADA Questions and Answers" explains clearly the practical applications of the ADA. The DOJ website has ADA Regulation and Technical Assistance Manuals which explain the ADA and other Disability Rights Laws. The DOJ website also contains a technical assistance phone number and email address to submit questions or complaints to for individuals who believe they have been discriminated against on the basis of disability by a business or government entity

Department of Transportation

The Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration works to ensure equal access to transportation systems for individuals with disabilities. Information about the assistance hotline for public transportation questions, filing a rider complaint, and National Transit Institute training courses is available on the website.

U.S. Access Board

The Access Board is a federal agency that develops guidelines to ensure that buildings, transportation, and telecommunications technology are accessible to individuals with disabilities. The website contains federal guidelines and standards, technical assistance documents, and information on making a complaint about inaccessible facilities.

To receive additional assistance with locating or understanding how to make your programs, business, services, and activities accessible, please contact the Northeast ADA Center Technical Assistance team!