ADA - in Demand

ADA... what does demand have to do with it?

Throughout the golf industry the answer to the question, "why don't you provide single rider golf cars?" is, there is no demand... no person who is disabled [mobility impaired] has asked for such a vehicle or asked to play golf. Since golf courses apparently experience no demand for golf by people with disabilities, there probably isn't much demand from persons with disabilities for anything else. So, why have accessible restrooms? Why have ramps at the doors? Why have handicap parking spaces?

Interestingly, most golf course facilities and other businesses have accessible restrooms and handicap parking... even though there isn't much demand. In fact, there are millions of people who cannot play the game without a special golf car... while the golf industry says they are welcome, they are not invited through special golf cars... there is a big difference between welcome and invited. Ask women golfers.

So, what does demand have to do with it?

Let's look at what the Congress decided in 1990. They decided to enact a law that said, "no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any public accommodation... ". Congress didn't say, "... only if a person with a disability asks or demands... ". The Congress did not say anything, anywhere about numbers of people with disabilities... they said no individual... the Congress didn't say anything about the number of people who are disabled that must make a demand on a public facility... they said "it shall be discriminatory to subject an individual... on the basis of a disability... to a denial of the opportunity of the individual to benefit... ". The burden is on the public facility to be accessible as the law is written, not on the person with a disability to make a demand! There was no qualifier such as it's OK to deny up to twenty people, but then you have to comply! There are no qualifiers in the law as to numbers of disabled or amount of demand.

The ADA, enacted on July 26, 1990, provides comprehensive civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, public accommodations, state and local government services, and telecommunications. The law applies to any individual with a disability, wherever, whenever... public facilities are required to be prepared to accommodate the civil rights of people with a disability when they attempt to access the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of the facility... it doesn't say when these people with disabilities come in threes! It is whenever! Even if it's only one person, whenever! Civil rights are not defined in numbers. Civil rights are absolute.

The Department of Justice [DOJ] regulations, which enforce ADA, provide for complaint procedures... section 35.170 of the regulations asks "who may file"... it says, an individual! It doesn't say there has to be more than one or many before a complaint can be filed! If the town of Castle Rock, Colorado doesn't have anyone who is disabled, does that mean no public facility in the town need comply with ADA? How about visitors to the town? What if there are three people with a disability? What if it is your son, daughter or spouse? What is the trigger number? The law and the regulations do not use numbers of people with disabilities... there is no definition of demand... the law simply says you cannot discriminate! Demand has nothing to do with it. A public facility must be in compliance with ADA and the regulations when, and if, a person with a disability shows up.

The law contemplates that there are over 50 million Americans with disabilities and perhaps 20 million of them are mobility impaired Americans. The law recognizes that it is the civil right of these Americans to enjoy the goods and services and facilities of public businesses and institutions on an equal basis with non-disabled Americans. Becoming disabled does not cause us to lose our civil rights. The Congress did not want to unfairly burden public facilities so it described what is reasonable in taking steps to meet the needs of Americans who are disabled. But, no where in the law or the process of complying as described in the DOJ regulations does anything qualify on the basis of "demand"... in fact, the potential for a request is all that is contemplated by the law! So, demand has nothing to do with it... demand is irrelevant... there is no minimum... the law says if you are open to the public, you better be open to the ENTIRE public which includes disabled!!

We also hear that even if there was demand, nothing in the law says we have to provide special equipment to people who are disabled. It's not in the law - it's in the DOJ regulations. Congress was diligent in describing the civil rights of people with disabilities, and DOJ was diligent in addressing compliance. First, disabilities were defined clearly. As noted earlier, reasonable and fair was defined. DOJ made a point to exclude "personal devices" such as things that are prescribed or wheel chairs [often medical or medical-related devices]. Public facilities are not required to provide these personal devices. It is equally important to note that, when asked, the FDA determined that the SoloRider single rider golf car was not a medical device. DOJ has made that same determination when asked. But, DOJ does require that a public facility provide equal opportunity, to remove barriers to participate, to provide auxiliary aids... removal of barriers and auxiliary aids include Braille letters and numbers, communication devices, grab bars, etc. For those who may ask, single rider golf cars are not considered by DOJ to be personal devices, but instead fall in the category of removing barriers and providing auxiliary aids. Generally, whether or not a golf course provides standard golf cars, it must provide adaptive golf cars in order to make its golf course accessible to mobility impaired golfers. Case law and DOJ decisions support this position. No golf course has successfully defended itself against failure to provide single rider or adaptive golf cars. And, it has nothing to do with numbers... nothing to do with demand... nothing in ADA compliance ever has been about numbers or demand... it is all about equal opportunity, discrimination and the civil rights of the disabled community.

It's time to do what is morally and socially responsible and to follow the guidelines and the intent of the law.

"We're having an event and we need a single rider golf car for a day"...

We hear that request frequently... that suggests there is some "demand" for single rider golf cars!!

SoloRider is in the business of manufacturing single rider golf cars and selling them to end users and to golf courses who need them for their end users. It is not practical for SoloRider to try to respond to one day or single event needs across the U S. In fact, this type of need is exactly what Congress was addressing when it enacted The Americans with Disabilities Act[ADA] in 1990.

What did Congress intend? Congress said "no individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any public accommodation... ". Congress put the burden of providing access, on demand, squarely on public accommodations... businesses and municipal facilities. Congress did not intend that access be there only for single day events or for one day... Congress intended that public facilities be prepared to accommodate people with disabilities when they come to the public access facility, every day. Public access golf facilities must be prepared to accommodate on demand... trying to rent or borrow a single rider when the need arises does not meet the requirements of ADA and Department of Justice regulations.

For more information about responsibilities under ADA, see other locations on our website such as "ADA - what does demand have to do with it?" and "show me where it says that".

Next: Frequently Asked ADA Questions