Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: Hotels Are Considered "Public Accomodations" And Must Provide "Auxiliary Aids And Services" To Visually-Impaired, Deaf And "Hard Of Hearing Guests" In Conference Facilities

“…public accommodations must ensure that no individual with a disability may be “treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services.”

  • Included as examples of “auxiliary aids and services” are closed caption, rear-window captioning and open captioning for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  • With the advances in technology, it is argued that at least one form of captioning is now required in virtually all hotel rooms, meeting rooms, bars, restaurants, and other accommodations with televised services. 
  • Nearly all television sets built since 1993 with screens of 13 inches or more that are sold in the United States have closed captioning embedded in the television set. The closed captioning becomes visible when you use a special decoder, either as a separate box or built into the television set

If your hotel meeting and conference facilities appeal to a broad range of groups or organizations, which include disabled individuals (as nearly all do), are you providing auxiliary aids and services for visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing guests? 

  • Have you implemented plans to protect yourself from this type of “new frontier” ADA litigation?
  • Have you had an “ADA audit” done by an expert team looking to protect your interests? 
  • Have you taken action to stay on top of the technology for hearing and sight impaired guests/conference attendees? 
  • Have you specifically investigated your hotel’s needs to provide auxiliary aids and services? 
  • Do you have written policies and procedures for providing auxiliary aids and services to guests/conference attendees? 
  • Do you have written policies and procedures for training staff on the need for and use of auxiliary aids and services for disabled guests/conference attendees? 
  • Do you have the necessary auxiliary aids and services on site? Are there aids and services available from sister properties if you run short? 
  • Do you have policies in place for testing auxiliary aids and services to be sure they are working and properly maintained? 
  • Do you have plans to investigate and purchase the latest in closed captioned technology?
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