South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department

Helping people with disabilities to become and stay employed.
Helping businesses find and keep talent.

Employing Ability


Creating an accessible work environment is easy and usually inexpensive. We can help you find cost effective ways to make your business accessible for both employees and customers.

Who has obligations under Title III of the ADA?

Places of Public Accommodation

A place of public accommodation is a private establishment (for profit or nonprofit) that fits one of twelve categories specified by the Department of Justice in the ADA regulations.

Hotels, restaurants, theaters, museums, retail stores, private schools, banks, doctors’ offices, and health clubs are all places of public accommodation.

Here is the complete list of the twelve categories and examples of each:

Type of Establishment Example
Provides lodging Hotel, inn, motel (except if less than Six rooms & residence of the owner)
Serves food or drink Restaurant, bar
Place of exhibition or entertainment Theater, cinema, concert hall, stadium
Public gathering place Auditorium, convention center, lecture hall
Sales or rental Bakery, grocery store, clothing store, shopping mall, video rental store
Provides a service Bank, lawyer’s office, gas station, funeral parlor, Laundromat, dry cleaner, barber shop, beauty shop, insurance office, hospital, travel service, pharmacy, office of health care provider
Station used for specified public Transportation Depot, bus station, airline or train terminal
Place for public display or collection Museum, library, gallery
Place of recreation Park, zoo, amusement park
Education Preschool, nursery, elementary, secondary, undergraduate or post-graduate private school
Social service establishment Shelter, hospital, day care center, independent living center, food bank, senior citizen center, adoption agency
Place for exercise and recreation Gymnasium, health club, bowling alley, golf course

Under Title III of the ADA, any private entity that owns, leases, leases to, or operates an existing public accommodation has four specific requirements:

  1. Remove barriers to make their goods and services available to and usable by people with disabilities, to the extent that it is readily achievable to do so—in other words, to the extent that needed changes can be accomplished without much difficulty or expense.
  2. Provide auxiliary aids and services so that people with sensory or cognitive disabilities have access to effective means of communication, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the operation or result in an undue burden.
  3. Modify any policies, practices, or procedures that may be discriminatory or have a discriminatory effect, unless doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, or accommodations (e.g. service animals are allowed in the business when pets and other animals are not allowed.)
  4. Ensure that there are no unnecessary eligibility criteria that tend to screen out or segregate individuals with disabilities or limit their full and equal enjoyment of the place of public accommodation.

New construction or alterations of public accommodations must comply fully with the new construction and alterations regulations of Title III, including the scoping and technical specifications of the ADAAG.

Commercial Facilities

A commercial facility is a privately owned, non-residential facility involved in commercial activity, such as a factory, warehouse, corporate office building, or other facility in which employment may occur.

New construction or alterations of commercial facilities must comply fully with the new construction and alterations regulations of Title III, including the scoping and technical specifications of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), the accessibility standard for facilities under Title III jurisdiction. Existing commercial facilities do not have obligations under Title III.

  • Entities controlled by religious organizations, including laces of worship, are not covered.
  • Private clubs are not covered, except to the extent that the facilities of the private club are made available to customers or patrons of a place of public accommodation.
  • State and local governments are not covered by the Title III regulation, but rather by the Department of Justice’s Title II regulation.

Existing Facilities

Remove Barriers

Physical barriers to entering and using existing facilities must be removed when “readily achievable”.

  • Readily achievable means “easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense”.
  • What is readily achievable will be determined on a case-by-case basis in light of the resources available.
  • First priority should be given to measures that will enable individuals with disabilities to “get in the front door,” followed by measures to provide access to areas providing goods and services.
  • Barrier removal measures must comply, when readily achievable, with the alterations requirements of the ADAAG.
Alternatives to Barrier Removal

The ADA requires the removal of physical barriers, such as stairs, if it is “readily achievable.” However, if removal is not readily achievable, alternative steps must be taken to make goods and services accessible. Examples of alternative measures include

  • Providing goods and services at the door, sidewalk, or curb
  • Providing home delivery
  • Retrieving merchandise from inaccessible shelves or racks
  • Relocating activities to accessible locations

Extra charges may not be imposed on individuals with disabilities to cover the costs of measures used as alternatives to barrier removal.

New Construction

All newly constructed places of public accommodation and commercial facilities must be accessible to individuals with disabilities to the extent that it is not structurally impracticable (e.g. marshland that requires construction on stilts).

The architectural standards for accessibility in new construction are contained in the ADA Accessibility Guidelines issued by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board, an independent Federal agency. These standards are incorporated in the final Department of Justice Title III Regulation.

Elevators are not required in facilities under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping center, shopping mall, professional office of a health care provider, or station used for public transportation.


Alterations to existing places of public accommodation and commercial facilities must be accessible to the maximum extent feasible. An alteration is a change that affects usability of a facility. For example, if during remodeling, renovation or restoration, a doorway is being relocated, the new doorway must be wide enough to meet the requirements of the ADAAG. When alterations are made to a “primary function area” such as the lobby or work areas of a bank, an accessible path of travel to the altered area, and the bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving that area, must be made accessible to the extent that the added accessibility costs are not disproportionate to the overall cost of the original alteration (20 percent).

Non-structural Ways to Make Goods and Services Accessible

For People with Visual Impairments

Use large-letter signs

Remove displays or other objects in path of travel

Use “talking” calculators or computers

Raise low-hanging signs or lights

Increase frequency of existing oral announcements

Make optical magnifiers available

Install entrance indicators such as strips of textured material near doorways, elevators, etc.

Tape tests/menus

Have servers or sales clerks read menus or price tags

For People with Hearing Impairments

Provide written notice of oral announcements

Train employees in basic sign language

Provide small sound amplifiers for telephones

Purchase telecommunication devices for the deaf

Rearrange work stations toward co-workers

Provide paper and pencils at sales counters

Improve sight lines by replacing oval tables with round tables

For People with Mental or Cognitive Impairments

Use large-letter signs

Use simple words or illustrations on signs

Color-code materials

Replace written job testing with on-the-job tryouts or verbal exams

For People with Tactile or Reaching Impairments

Use “Lazy Susans”, which allow people to rotate equipment without reaching

Buy automatic electric staplers

Attach items or equipment with Velcro

How to Remove Barriers

For People with Mobility Impairments

Install ramps

Make curb cuts in sidewalks and entrances

Reposition shelves.

Rearrange tables, chairs, vending machines, display racks and other furniture. A 36 inch wide accessible route is needed.

Reposition telephones

Widen doors (36 inch wide doors are accessible.)

Install lever or loop-type handles on doors so they open without tight grasping, pinching or twisting.

Install offset hinges to widen doorways

Eliminate a turnstile or provide an alternative accessible path

Install grab bars in toilet stalls

Rearrange toilet partitions to increase maneuvering space

Insulate pipes under sinks to prevent burns

Install a raised toilet seat

Install a full-length bathroom mirror

Reposition the paper towel dispenser

Create designated accessible parking spaces

Install a paper cup dispenser at a water fountain

Remove high pile, low density carpeting

Install vehicle hand controls

For People with Visual Impairments

Add raised marking on elevator control buttons

For People with Hearing Impairments

Install flashing light alarms

Accessible Parking

What You Need to Know

When parking is provided for the public, designated accessible parking spaces must be provided, if doing so is readily achievable. An accessible parking space must have space for the vehicle and an additional space located either to the right or to the left of the space that serves as an access aisle. This aisle is needed to permit a person using a wheelchair, electric scooter, or other mobility device to get out of their car or van. A sign with the international symbol of accessibility must be located in front of the parking space and mounted high enough so it is not hidden by a vehicle parked in the space.

Accessible parking spaces should be the spaces closest to the accessible entrance and be located on level ground (1:50 maximum slope in all directions). Where parking is provided in several locations near building entrances, the accessible parking should also be dispersed. An accessible route must be provided between the access aisle and the accessible building entrance. This route must have no steps or steeply sloped surfaces, and it must have a firm, stable, slip-resistant surface.

Van accessible spaces must have an access aisle that is at least eight feet wide and be designated by a sign with the international symbol and “van accessible.” There should be a vertical clearance of at least 98 inches on the vehicular route to the space, at the parking space, and along the vehicular route to an exit.

Accessible parking spaces for cars must have an access aisle that is at least five feet wide. The other features are the same as for vans except that the sign designating the parking space only has an international symbol of accessibility, and there is no requirement for a minimum vertical height. Two parking spaces may share a common access aisle (van or car).

Install curb ramp where an accessible route crosses a curb. Note: the curb ramp does not extend into the access aisle.

The number of accessible parking spaces that should be provided is based on the total number of parking spaces that you provide. For example, if your parking lot has 25 or fewer spaces, the 1 should be an accessible parking space. If it has 50 or fewer spaces it should have 2 accessible spaces. If you provide only one accessible parking space, it also must be a van accessible space. In facilities where more than on accessible parking space is required, one of eight accessible parking spaces must be van accessible. Although designated a van accessible space, cars may use the space too.

Providing Effective Communication


Places of public accommodation are required to ensure that customers or clients with disabilities affecting hearing, vision, speech, or cognition are provided with effective communication through auxiliary aids and services that enable them to fully benefit from facilities, services, goods, and programs. A place of public accommodation is not required to provide any auxiliary aid or service if doing so would “fundamentally alter” the operation (i.e., alter the essential nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations offered) or if providing communication aids and services would result in an “undue burden” (i.e. significant difficulty or expense).

Auxiliary aids and services include a wide range of communication techniques and devices, many of which are discussed below. Use of advanced technology or the costliest service option is not necessary if effective communication can be provided through other means.

It is strongly recommended that places of public accommodation take into consideration the preferences that individuals with disabilities may have for particular aids and services, but ultimately it is the decision of the owner or operator which aids and services are provided. In choosing among the alternatives, effectiveness should be the critical deciding factor.

For example, a restaurant would not be required to provide menus in Braille if it provides reading by a waiter or host upon request. However, a research library in a private university that provides copies of written materials to students would be responsible for providing those materials in an accessible format upon request (i.e., large print, Braille, audio cassettes, or computer disk).

A place of public accommodation would not be required to have a TDD available for receiving or making telephone calls that are part of business operations. It should, however, train staff to be prepared to receive calls through the telephone relay service. On the other hand, TDDs must be provided when customers, clients, patients, or participants are permitted to make outgoing calls on “more than an incidental convenience basis.” Hospitals and hotels, for example, would generally be required to provide TDDs for their patients or guests.

Whichever aids and services are offered, be sure to publicize their availability with the appropriate signage and symbols.

For People with Visual Impairments

For people with visual disabilities, the auxiliary aids and services requirement means that information regularly provided in visual formats must also be available in audible or tactile forms. For example, the information in printed brochures can be made available in Braille or on audio tape. Restaurants can offer menus in Braille or has staff read the selections and prices when necessary. Movie theaters can provide telephone tapes with their film schedules for people who do not have access to the printed listings in the newspaper. Annual reports can be provided on computer diskette.

Large Print Materials

Many people with visual disabilities have some usable sight and can read large print. Large print materials can often be made at low cost using a photocopier or a personal computer. Use a 16-point type size or larger (18 is best). The type should be double-spaced and printed on a high-contrast background. When you are planning a conference or other event, estimate the number of large print materials needed by asking participants to notify you in advance about their specific needs. (If you are providing printed materials, it is always a good idea to have a few large print copies available.) Places that display information on wall signs can offer large-type printed versions; for example, fast food restaurants can provide large-print menus for those who cannot read the wall menus.

All Printed Materials

Prepare text according to the following principles to maximize legibility (this benefits everyone, including people with limited vision):

  • Set type in columns that are not too narrow or too wide (for 11 or 12 point type, 3 to 7 inches is a comfortable column width. Use only one column if possible. Leave right margins ragged; this leaves words evenly spaced, making ragged-right text easier to read than justified text.
  • Use lower case letters with initial capitals; this is more legible than all capitals.
  • Black lettering on yellow or off-white paper provides maximum legibility, with fewer glares than plain white paper.
  • Use simple serif typefaces. Simple fonts work best; don’t use thin/bold, italic, or fancy typefaces. Restrict the use of sans-serif type to headlines, column headings, and other short pieces of information. Do not use more than two typefaces on a page.
    • Arial and Helvetica typefaces, two of the most common, are actually very hard to read by people with dyslexia. Zeros and Os, ones and lowercase Ls, Ps and Qs (lowercase), among others can be confusing because they either appear identical (such as Ones and lowercase Ls) or as mirror images (such as lowercase Ps and Qs). Choose fonts that use distinctive characters for easy reading.

If brailed materials are needed, there are a number of resources that provide transcription services. Contact the National Federation of the Blind at 301-659-9314 or the National Braille Press at 617-266-6160.

Audio Tapes

Recording program materials on cassette tape is a good alternative to written information. Tape duplicators, found on many stereo cassette decks, make copies easily and inexpensively. If you are doing the recording yourself, be sure that each side of the tape is identified with the side number, the document title and the page range being read. The cassette label should include the title and tape number (e.g., Tape 1 of 4) in type and in Braille. At the end of the recording, identify the reader. Make sure the recording is done in a room where there is no background noise. Read at a moderate pace and articulate words clearly.


If brailed or taped materials are not available, designate someone to read information aloud, when necessary, to people who are blind or visually impaired. This is a stop-gap measure.

Computer Diskettes

Computer diskettes provide an efficient, simple means of transferring print information to audible communication. Many individuals now have computers with voice output that can “read” data aloud. The diskette can also be used to print out Braille text or large print. This electronic process is often the fastest way to convert print text to an accessible format. This alternative is excellent for providing conference materials, reports, minutes of meetings—any print information of any length.

Radio Reading Services and Telephone Tapes

Radio reading services and telephone tapes provide people who are blind or visually impaired with a wide range of information. Radio reading services regularly read newspapers, periodicals, weather reports, and event calendars. Telephone tapes provide information about services and programs. These services are a great source of advertising once you have made your business accessible.

For People with Hearing or Speech Impairments

For people with hearing or speech disabilities, auxiliary aids and services include communication devices such as text telephones or TDDs, assistive listening systems, and services such as interpreters or alternative methods of communication. If there is someone in particular for whom you will be providing communication aids or services, you should always ask that person what he or she needs or prefers.

Telephone Amplifiers

The telephone company can install amplification devices on pay phones. Portable amplifiers for individual use are also available.


Captioning is the process by which the audio part of a videotape or film is transcribed and made visible on the screen to be read by people with hearing disabilities. Closed captions are visible only if the television is equipped with a decoder; open captions are always visible.

Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf

A telecommunication device for the deaf (TDD), also called a text telephone or a TTY, allows a person with a hearing or speech disability to communicate with other TDD-users over the telephone using a keyboard and visual display and/or printer.

Portable TDDs are easy to use and affordable. Prices range from $150 to $1000, depending on the features provided. You may use an existing phone line or get a separate dedicated line. Everyone who answers the phone must be trained to recognize the TDD tone and to know how to respond. Publicize the TDD number by listing it in all of your publications and materials in the following format:

800-123-4567 voice/TDD or abbreviate V/TDD

Telecommunication Relay Services

Telecommunication Relay Services (TRS) enable someone using a TDD to communicate with someone using a voice telephone. Operators at the relay service act as a communication bridge between hearing people and people who have hearing or speech disabilities. The ADA mandates that all telephone companies provide telecommunication relay services. You may access Relay by dialing 711. Because of the low cost of a TDD and the efficiency and desirability of on-to-one communication, it is recommended that businesses, services, and agencies that carry out a high volume of business by phone consider making themselves directly accessible through TDDs rather than relying on relay services.

Assistive Listening Systems

If your facility has a meeting room, theater, or auditorium, an assistive listening system will enhance the sound for people who are hard of hearing. Several systems are available: the induction system, the wireless AM or FM system, and the wireless infrared system. The choice of systems is dependent upon a number of factors, including the intended users, the location, and the need for portability. For technical assistance, contact Self Help for Hard of Hearing People at 301-657-2248 (voice) or 301-657-2249 (TDD).

In new construction of assembly areas where audible communication is integral to the use of the space, such as concert and lecture halls, theaters, and meeting rooms, an assistive listening system must be provided. If the assembly area has fixed seats for at least 50 people or has an audio-amplification system, an assistive listening system must be permanently installed. In open gathering spaces in places such as shopping malls, where concerts or other events may occasionally be held, but which do not have fixed seating, an induction system is recommended. In other cases, either a permanently installed system may be provided or adequate electrical outlets or other necessary wiring must be provided to support a portable system. Refer to ADAAG.


People who are deaf or hard of hearing often request interpreters in order to participate in conversations, meetings, and events. Interpreters translate from spoken language to American Sign Language (ASL) and vice versa. Transliterators interpret from spoken English to Pidgin Signed English, Manually Coded English, or Cued Speech, and vice versa. Oral interpreters paraphrase or mouth silently the spoken message and, if necessary, voice-interpret the speech of a person who is deaf or hard of hearing. The person who is deaf or hard of hearing should be consulted as to his or her preferred type of interpreting.

Fees for interpreters generally range from $25 to $35 dollars an hour with a two hour minimum fee. Be sure to make your request two to four weeks in advance of your meeting or event. For more information, contact the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc at 301-608-0050 voice/TDD.

Depending on the length and the nature of the assignment, varying numbers of interpreters or stenotypists will be needed. For most assignments lasting no longer than two hours, only one professional may be needed. The professional should be provided at least one break during that time. The idea that coffee breaks will provide a break for the professional is erroneous. The exchanges that occur in the hallways or around the lunch or refreshment table are often the places where a good deal of the important “work” is done. Interpreters need frequent breaks, both for mental processing reasons and for the prevention of physical damage due to Repetitive Motion Syndrome/Injury (RMS) or other overuse syndromes. At least one 1 to 15 minute break per hour should be provided.

Interpreters should always be in a visible, well-lit place near the presenters. When slides or films are shown, a spotlight may be used to illuminate the interpreter. At all events, an area close to the interpreter and presenters should be reserved for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and for those sitting with them. Artistic interpreters of literature, poems, plays, and concerts require written material and recorded music anywhere from one day to several months prior to the performance. Interpreters for speeches and presentations from dignitaries, politicians, and the like also require advance review of a script in order to ensure the most accurate delivery possible.

Computer-aided Real-time Reporting (CART)

Computer-aided real-time reporting or real-time captioning is available as an option for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and who read English fluently. Real-time reporters, often trained as court stenographers, type what is said in a meeting, and the text is simultaneously displayed on a computer or video monitor or projection screen

For People with Cognitive Impairments

The most important service for people with cognitive disabilities is the provision of clear information. Everyone appreciates printed information and announcements that are easy to understand.

People with cognitive disabilities especially appreciate the use of graphic symbols, color, and other supplements to the meaning of verbal information.

For example, illustrations in restaurant menus make them easier to comprehend for someone who does not read well.

All employees should be trained to provide information clearly and to have patience with people who might not understand the first time or the first way it is presented.