Apostrophe teamed up with the Rocky Mountain ADA Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., to bring you answers about ADA. ADA can be complicated to navigate, but we’re here to help. If you have questions to ADA answers you’d like to submit, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll answer them in the next issue of Apostrophe.
CONSUMER: Our city provides accessible on-street parking. Does the ADA specify how long a person with a state-issued parking permit for people with disabilities can park in an accessible space?
ADA: No, enforcement of the use of accessible parking spaces is up to local or state regulations. For example, in Colorado a person with disabilities can park in an accessible parking space up to four hours – even if all other parking spaces have a four-hour limit.
CONSUMER: Last year I requested accommodation for my disability from my employer. I provided medical documentation as requested and was approved. A year has passed, and my employer asked me to renew my request even though nothing has changed since the initial request. Is this request legitimate?
ADA: Probably not. Upon receiving a request for accommodation, under the ADA when the disability and/or need for accommodation are not obvious, an employer is permitted to ask for medical documentation from an employee. Medical documentation establishes the need for long-term accommodation for employees who have a disability of an extended or lifelong duration. When reasonable medical documentation that establishes a disability is provided to obtain an accommodation, an employer does not have cause to request updated information annually.
CONSUMER: I am having back surgery, and my mother is accompanying me. She is a person who is deaf. We requested that the hospital provide an interpreter so that she will understand what is happening during the surgery and the instructions about my care after surgery. The hospital denied this request, saying that since she is not the patient they were not responsible to provide this for her. What does the ADA say?
ADA: Hospital staff often communicate with a spouse, relative or friend about a patient’s condition or prognosis. Same thing goes for school staff who talk to a parent about a child’s progress. Rules under ADA refer to such people as “companions.” These and other similar organizations are required to provide an effective channel for companions who have communication disability. The term, companion, includes any family member, friend or associate of a person seeking or receiving goods or services.
CONSUMER: My business provides a couple wheelchairs and electric scooters for customer use; however, they are falling into disrepair and will have to be replaced soon. Additionally, we have to assign someone to retrieve them from the parking lot; therefore, we are thinking about dispensing with them. Does the ADA require that our business provide them?
ADA: No, they are considered personal devices and not required under the ADA. Just like the scooters at Walmart or grocery stores, they are provided as part of customer service. However, it’s important to note the ADA and the ADA standards only provide minimum requirements and standards; therefore, it’s always up to businesses to go beyond the bare minimum.
CONSUMER: The ADA is celebrating its 25th anniversary in July. Where can I find resources and ideas on how to acknowledge this historic event?
ADA: Events to celebrate this exciting historical event are taking place all across the United States this summer. Many will occur even after the official July 26, 2015, date. ADAanniversary.org is a website dedicated to the 25th anniversary. It includes an ADA anniversary toolkit with a media kit, videos and other handy tools to help plan your own event. While you’re there, take the time to sign the ADA pledge and proclamation!
CONSUMER: Our city is planning a special event, and we want the event to be accessible to everyone. Are there any resources you recommend to help with that process?
ADA: Yes, the ADA National Network completed an update to the planning guide, A Planning Guide for Making Temporary Events Accessible to People With Disabilities. You can find it online at https://adata.org/publication/temporary-events-guide.