Reservations and Tickets to Public Events for People with Disabilities
In accordance with the guiding principle of the Americans with Disabilities Act that individuals with disabilities must have equal rights, new rules went into effect on March 15, 2012 to clarify and improve entitlement pertaining to reservations and tickets to public events. As before, a public accommodation (hotel, restaurant, theater, etc.) must maintain features required to be readily accessible. They cannot impose eligibility criteria that "screen out" or deny people with disabilities from equal access, and they cannot charge more to cover any costs associated with providing equal access.
The new rules have improved the process of making reservations for
public lodging (hotels, motels, etc.) and obtaining tickets to public
The new rules apply whether the request is made by telephone, in person, or through a third party (travel agent, etc.). A public accommodation that operates a place of lodging shall:
- Ensure that a person with a disability can make a reservation in the same manner as all others.
- Identify and describe accessible features in sufficient detail to permit an assessment whether it adequately meets accessibility needs.
- Not give accessible rooms to patrons without disabilities until or unless all other rooms have been rented.
- Reserve, upon request, accessible rooms and ensure that the requested room is blocked and removed from all reservation systems.
Guarantee that the specific accessible room reserved through its
reservation service is held for the reserving customer.
In general, the new rules primarily clarify the process of obtaining tickets and ensuring that people with disabilities have the same opportunity to purchase tickets for accessible seating as others, to include under the same terms and conditions as other tickets sold. The rules apply equally to single events and series of events (season tickets, etc.). A public accommodation that sells or distributes tickets shall, if asked:
- Tell the locations of all available accessible seats.
- Identify and describe accessible features in sufficient detail to permit an assessment whether it adequately meets accessible needs.
- Provide seating charts, prices, or other information about accessible seats if such is provided to the general public about other seats.
- Provide tickets for accessible seats or seating at all price levels at the same price as other seats.
Permit the buyer of a wheelchair-accessible space to buy up to three
additional tickets for seats in the same row that are adjacent to the
wheelchair space. Please note that this requirement conforms to the
policy that applies to the general public, i.e., patrons with a
disability may purchase up to, or are limited to, the same number of
tickets as the general public.
A public accommodation may not require proof of disability to sell
tickets for accessible seating. However, for single event tickets, it is
permissible to ask if the person has a mobility disability or a
disability that requires other features of accessibility, and for series
of events tickets to request that this information be attested in
Similarly, people with disabilities who believe their rights have been violated on the basis of their disability, to include in the matter of reservations and ticketing, have several venues in which to file a complaint:
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section –NYA
Washington, DC 20530
800-514-0301, TTY: 800-514-0383
Fairfax County Human Rights Commission
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 318
Fairfax, VA 22035
703-324-2953 | TTY: 703-324-2900 | Fax 703-324-3570