What Is ADA Seating?

Mar 25th 2021

The Purpose Of The ADA

If you are the 1 out of 4 adults in America with a disability, you probably already know the answer. However, if you care about (or for) someone with a disability, you may be asking the question, what is ADA seating? We'll be answering this question and everything else you ever wanted to know about ADA seating requirements, within this post. If you live with a disability of any kind, functioning in society is a challenge, to say the least. In part, this is why the ADA was enacted in the first place. Let's summarize.

The ADA was originally created to help keep people who have disabilities from being discriminated against, especially in the workforce. Businesses were forced to rethink their hiring practices and job descriptions, and be willing to make certain concessions for assistance when requested. The idea was to bring the same services, products, and job opportunities that businesses offer to the disabled population, as well as the general public. In addition, it holds businesses accountable through mandatory ADA compliance, with regulations and specific guidelines for what is commonly referred to now as "standards for accessible design", in order to accommodate these individuals with disabilities.

Accessible Design

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a civil rights act that was signed into federal law in 1990. In late 2008 it was amended, and includes what are now commonly known as the "2010 standards for accessible design". These are the detailed specifications for any new business construction (2010 or after), in order to be ADA compliant. This includes everything from necessary ADA signage to wheelchair accessible restroom specs. It also includes ADA parking and the subject at hand, ADA seating. This basically means wheelchair accessible seating in a public venue or assembly area, but has other details involved that we will go over, as well.

ADA Seating

These days, any business with 15 or more full-time employees must be what's called ADA compliant, or risk lawsuits and very steep fines in the tens of thousands, even for first time offenders. Businesses who sell tickets or offer seating for their patrons are required to have a certain percentage of seats that are designated for individuals with disabilities, generally people that are wheelchair bound. These are typically referred to as wheelchair spaces, or accessible seating. They are spaces large enough to accommodate a full-size wheelchair, and typically have better lines of sight or viewing angles. Sometimes they are even located near player seating areas. Any assembly area must include a certain number of wheelchair spaces for its accessible seating area to be ADA compliant.

Who Can Purchase Wheelchair Spaces?

When it comes to purchasing these wheelchair spaces in the accessible seating area of an establishment, anyone is generally allowed to buy these tickets. They are reserved for individuals with disabilities first, however, and are not sold to the general population until all of the other seats are taken. Individuals with disabilities who use a wheelchair or mobility device are eligible to utilize these wheelchair spaces, as well as disabled patrons who require the use of accessibility features, such as someone with a disability that may have a service animal, and therefore need the extra space.

Wheelchair Spaces And Companion Seats

Seating locations vary, but sometimes wheelchair spaces in accessible seating areas are in the front rows, or may even be in a luxury box or be box seating, depending on the entity. Individuals with disabilities purchasing designated wheelchair spaces must also be allowed to purchase up to three additional adjacent companion seats. If three seats next to the wheelchair space are not available, they must be offered the three closest seats. Groups cannot be separated that leave the disabled person isolated under any circumstances. Though three seats are very strongly encouraged, the law requires at least one companion seat next to all wheelchair spaces be available for purchase at the same time.

Where ADA Seating Is Available

As previously stated, wheelchair spaces in accessible seating areas must have good viewing angles to the performance area, so a good seating plan is essential. Some examples of assembly areas that should offer tickets for accessible seating are: restaurants, movie theaters, bowling lanes, a sports activity or performing arts auditoria, a concert hall or stadium, etc. The Americans with Disabilities Act states that all assembly areas selling tickets must sell tickets for accessible seating as well. The Department of Justice is the entity that enforces the laws for ADA seating in assembly areas and the ADA laws in general. Ticket prices may not exceed regular prices, so that it is equal for everyone.

ADA In General

The whole idea of what's behind the Americans with Disabilities Act is equality, and making all public entities and offerings equally accessible to everyone. There are so many obstacles and injustices for this population to face and overcome each day, so why not try to make things a little easier when we can? After all, a disability can happen to absolutely anyone. You could be born with it, or it could happen at any time throughout your life. It could be a physical or a mental disability. And if it doesn't happen to you, it could happen to someone you love.

With over 25% of the U.S. population afflicted with a disability of some kind, you either know someone already, or will know someone in the future, who has a disability. A disabling accident occurs every 1 second in the United States, and you have a 1 in 21 chance of having one. With these kinds of statistics, can we really afford to ignore the special needs for both equality and accessibility that these people deserve? America was built on the idea of equal rights for everyone, so it is therefore our patriotic responsibility to work towards a goal that provides accessibility for all citizens. 

Interested in learning more? Check out ADA Central today! Looking for information on disabilities and ADA? Find out who enforces the ADA here.