ADA – Reasonable Accommodations vs Fundamental Alterations

The ADA requires businesses, schools, housing and transportation to make available their services to the disabled in an equitable manner.  There are specific years by which compliance with these reasonable accommodations was mandated.  However, for some businesses from which it would be fundamentally unreasonable to expect accommodations there is a concession.  On the website from the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, if a business is exempt if those accommodations would fundamentally alter the business.  The example they give follows:

If a bookstore places special orders for customers, it should do so for all of its customers. A bookstore that does not place special orders for customers is not required to place special orders for customers with disabilities. This would be a “fundamental alteration” in the nature of the bookstore’s services.

A restaurant is not required to prepare special dishes for customers who have disabilities. This would be a “fundamental alteration” in the nature of the restaurant’s services. However, if it is easy to omit a sauce or ingredient from a dish that is listed on the menu, a customer can request that the item be omitted. This would not be considered a fundamental alteration.

In the field of education, these reasonable accommodations present themselves in the form of IEPs and 504s.

The links below give additional clarification about the different aspects of reasonable accommodations.