public accommodations (ADA Title III)

Is audio description provided by museum staff or is it a profession like sign language interpreters?

Providing effective audio description is a technical skill that is being learned by professional audio describers in many cities. It began in towns where patrons with vision loss wanted to attend live theater; but now Describers are also working in museums and on guided tours.  If you want to know who provides audio description in your area, contact your local ADA Center at 1-800-949-4232.

Do restaurants have to provide Braille menus?

No. It might be an undue administrative or financial burden for a restaurant to print a new Braille menu every time they change an item or price.

However, it is not appropriate for a request for a Braille menu to be answered with simply “we don’t have any.” Restaurant staff should be trained on how to properly provide the information from the menu to guests so they can make their choices from the full menu.

What is an example of “fundamental alteration” of the goods or services being offered?

The classic example which may or may not have really happened is for someone who is Deaf to ask that the lights in a planetarium be raised so that she could see her interpreter.  Of course, this would fundamentally alter the experience for everyone, including the person who asked.  However, even though the planetarium could - and probably did - deny this request, the planetarium still has obligations under the ADA.  One possible solution would be to offer the patron a seat off on the far right or left and position the interpreter with a dim light right in front of her.  Another would be to

Can I ask a theater to allow me to bring my own interpreter and request designated seats so she can sit in front of me? I would also like a copy of the script ahead of time so my interpreter can read it.

The answer here is “yes, you can bring your own sign language interpreter.” You can bring someone with you as your companion or interpreter but you would have to buy two tickets.

BUT the requirement for effective communication does not require the theater to take any action that would cause a fundamental alteration in the goods or services being offered.  Having someone sit in the seat in front of you so she could interpret would disturb the other patrons and would fundamentally alter the experience for them.