• Alteration

    A change to a building or facility that affects or could affect the usability of the building or facility or portion. Alterations include, but are not limited to, remodeling, renovation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, historic restoration, resurfacing of circulation paths or vehicular ways, changes or rearrangement of the structural parts or elements, and changes or rearrangement in the plan configuration of walls and full-height partitions. Normal maintenance, reroofing, painting or wallpapering, or changes to mechanical and electrical systems are not alterations unless they affect the usability of the building or facility.

  • Assistive listening system (ALS)

    An amplification system utilizing transmitters, receivers, and coupling devices to bypass the acoustical space between a sound source and a listener by means of induction loop, radio frequency, infrared, or direct-wired equipment. ALS is typically used by people who are hard of hearing.

  • Auxiliary aids and servicess

    Devices and services that enable effective communication for and with people who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities. Includes:

    (1) Qualified interpreters on-site or through video remote interpreting (VRI) services; notetakers; real-time computer-aided transcription services; written materials; exchange of written notes; telephone handset amplifiers; assistive listening devices; assistive listening systems; telephones compatible with hearing aids; closed caption decoders; open and closed captioning, including real-time captioning; voice, text, and video-based telecommunications products and systems, including text telephones (TTYs), videophones, and captioned telephones, or equally effective telecommunications devices; videotext displays; accessible electronic and information technology; or other effective methods of making aurally delivered information available to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing;

    (2) Qualified readers; taped texts; audio recordings; Brailled materials and displays; screen reader software; magnification software; optical readers; secondary auditory programs (SAP); large print materials; accessible electronic and information technology; or other effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals who are blind or have low vision;

    (3) Acquisition or modification of equipment or devices; and other similar services and actions.



  • Braille

    A system of touch reading and writing for people who are blind, in which raised dots represent the letters of the alphabet and numbers. Braille also contains equivalents for punctuation marks and provides symbols to show letter groupings.


  • Captioned telephone

    A telephone that displays real-time captions of the current conversation. The captions are typically displayed on a screen embedded into the telephone base. The captions are created by a captionist using a computer with voice recognition software. Captionists listen to and revoice one side of the conversation into the microphone of a headset. A voice recognition program creates the captions and they are sent out to the captioned telephone user.

  • Computer-aided Real-time Transcription (CART)

    The instant translation of the spoken word into text (in the U.S.A usually into English) using a stenotype machine, notebook computer and realtime software.  The text produced by the CART service can be displayed on an individual’s computer monitor, projected onto a screen, combined with a video presentation to appear as captions, or otherwise made available using other transmission and display systems.


  • Direct threat (Title II – State and Local Governments)

    A significant risk to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level by the public entity's modification of its policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services. The public entity's determination that a person poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others may not be based on generalizations or stereotypes about the effects of a particular disability. The determination must be based on an individualized assessment that relies on current medical evidence, or on the best available objective evidence, to assess 1) the nature, duration, and severity of the risk; 2) the probability that the potential injury will actually occur; and, 3) whether reasonable modifications of policies, practices, or procedures will mitigate or eliminate the risk.

  • Disability

    A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual;

    A record of such an impairment; or

    Being regarded as having such an impairment. This means that the individual has been subjected to an action prohibited by the ADA because of an actual or perceived impairment that is not both “transitory and minor.”

    The term disability does not include—
    (i) Transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders;
    (ii) Compulsive gambling, kleptomania, or pyromania; or
    (iii) Psychoactive substance use disorders resulting from current illegal use of drugs.


  • Existing facility

    A facility in existence on any given date, without regard to whether the facility may also be considered newly constructed or altered.


  • Facility

    All or any portion of buildings, structures, sites, complexes, equipment, rolling stock or other conveyances, roads, walks, passageways, parking lots, or other real or personal property, including the site where the building, property, structure, or equipment is located.


  • Historic properties

    Those properties that are listed or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places or properties designated as historic under state or local law.


  • Optical readers

    A device that captures printed material such as forms, newspapers and books, and reads text aloud. Some of them also translate the text into braille. ORs are used by people who are blind.

  • Other power-driven mobility device (OPDMD)

    Any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines––whether or not designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities––that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion, including golf cars, electronic personal assistance mobility devices, such as the Segway® PT, or any mobility device designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes, but that is not a wheelchair within the meaning of this section.


  • Personal services and devices

    Personal or individually prescribed devices, such as wheelchairs, prescription eyeglasses, or hearing aids, or services of a personal nature, such as assistance in eating, toileting, or dressing. If personal services or devices are customarily provided to the individuals served by a public entity, such as a hospital or nursing home, then these personal services should also be provided to individuals with disabilities.

  • Program accessibility

    A public entity's services, programs, or activities, when viewed in their entirety, must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. This standard, known as "program accessibility," applies to all existing facilities of a public entity. Public entities, however, are not necessarily required to make each of their existing facilities accessible.

  • Public entity

    (1) Any state or local government;
    (2) Any department, agency, special purpose district, or other instrumentality of a state or states or local government; and
    (3) The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and any commuter authority.


  • Qualified individual with a disability

    An individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, the removal of architectural, communication, or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxiliary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or the participation in programs or activities provided by a public entity.

  • Qualified interpreter

    An interpreter who, via a video remote interpreting service or an on-site appearance, is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary. Qualified interpreters include, for example, sign language interpreters, oral transliterators, and cued-language transliterators.

  • Qualified reader

    A person who is able to read effectively, accurately, and impartially using any necessary specialized vocabulary.


  • Reasonable accommodation

    Any change or adjustment to a job or work environment that permits a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the job application process, to perform the essential functions of a job, or to enjoy benefits and privileges of employment equal to those enjoyed by employees without disabilities.


  • Screen reader software

    A software application that identifies what is being displayed on the screen (or, more accurately, sent to standard output, whether a video monitor is present or not). This interpretation is then presented to the user with text-to-speech (most people use headphones) or a Braille output device. The software “reads” email, documents and web pages. Although mainly used by people who are blind, screen reading software is also useful to people who have learning disabilities.

  • Secondary auditory programs (SAP)

    A service carried alongside a television channel as an alternative or augmentation to the audio that accompanies the video portion of a program. Listeners can choose this secondary audio signal through either a television, a stereo VCR equipped to receive SAP signals, or a special SAP receiver.

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

    A federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by governments, organizations and businesses that receive federal financial assistance.

  • Service animal

    Any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual's disability.

    Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors.

    The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

    Miniature horses may also be service animals.


  • Technically Infeasible

    With respect to an alteration of a building or a facility, something that has little likelihood of being accomplished because existing structural conditions would require removing or altering a load-bearing member that is an essential part of the structural frame; or because other existing physical or site constraints prohibit modification or addition of elements, spaces, or features that are in full and strict compliance with the minimum requirements.

  • Text telephone (TTY)

    An electronic device for text communication over a telephone line, that is designed for use by persons with hearing or speech difficulties.


  • Undue financial and administrative burden

    There is no actual definition of "undue burden," but the term is used in title II for state and local governments’ programs, activities and services.

  • Undue hardship

    This term is used in title I for employment reasonable accommodations. It means “significant difficulty or expense.”
    Factors to be considered:  
    i) The nature and net cost of the accommodation needed, considering the availability of tax credits and deductions, and/or outside funding
    (ii) The overall financial resources of the facility or facilities, the number of people employed at such facility, and the effect on expenses and resources
    (iii) The overall financial resources of the covered entity, the overall size of the business of the covered entity with respect to the number of its employees, and the number, type and location of its facilities
    (iv) The type of operation or operations of the covered entity, including the composition, structure and functions of the workforce of such entity, and the geographic separateness and administrative or fiscal relationship of the facility or facilities in question to the covered entity; and
    (v) The impact of the accommodation upon the operation of the facility, including the impact on the ability of other employees to perform their duties and the impact on the facility's ability to conduct business.


  • Video remote interpreting (VRI)

    The use of videoconferencing technology, equipment, and a high speed Internet connection to provide the services of a qualified interpreter, usually located off-site (remote) to people at a different location. VRI Is commonly used to provide communication between people who are deaf and use sign language and people who hear and use their voice.

  • Videophone

    A telephone with a video display, capable of simultaneous video and audio for communication between people in real-time.  People who are deaf and hard of hearing may call other people who use sign language or call non-signers using a video relay service.

  • Videotext display

    A system that provides interactive content and displays it on a television, typically using modems to send data in both directions.


  • Wheelchair

    A manually-operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability for the main purpose of indoor, or of both indoor and outdoor locomotion.