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DJ 202-PL-16 III-4.4200 January 26, 1993

Mr. J. Keith Ausbrook Collier, Shannon & Scott 3050 K Street, NW Washington, DC 20007 Dear Mr. Ausbrook: This letter is in response to your inquiry on behalf of the American Car Rental Association ("ACRA") to determine whether its members must provide vehicles equipped with hand controls when doing so would be readily achievable, and to identify the circumstances under which providing vehicles equipped with hand controls would be readily achievable. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities having rights or obligations under the Act. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA's requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation or legal advice and it is not binding on the Department of Justice. Title III of the ADA imposes certain obligations on places of public accommodation. The Act lists twelve types of entities as places of public accommodation, including the category of rental establishments. Please see the enclosed title III regulation at section 36.104 on pages 35594 and 35551 for more on the definition of a place of public accommodation. The owners and operators of places of public accommodation may not discriminate on the basis of an individual's disability when providing goods and services to that person. To prevent such discrimination, the owners and operators must remove barriers to accessibility of their goods and services if removal

is readily achievable, i.e., easily accomplished and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. Installation of vehicle hand controls is an example included in the title III regulation of a step towards barrier removal. Please see the regulation at section 36.304 on page 35597 and pages 35568-70 for further discussion. The failure to provide hand controls is considered a barrier that must be removed if providing hand controls is readily achievable. Whether it is readily achievable depends on a host of factors such as those mentioned in your letter at page two. Your main concern appears to be the cost of obtaining and installing hand controls. As cited above, expense is one factor that may properly be weighed in determining whether ACRA's members must obtain and install hand controls on rental cars. The Department has declined to establish any kind of numerical formula for determining whether an action is readily achievable. Instead, the Department has approved a flexible case-by-case balancing of the listed factors. Please see the enclosed title III regulation at section 36.104 on pages 35594 and 35554 for further discussion. The readily achievable standard also addresses legitimate safety considerations. To the extent that certain vehicle models cannot safely be fitted with hand controls, provision of hand controls on those vehicles is not readily achievable. However, for a safety concern to be considered legitimate it must be based on actual risks and must be necessary for the safe operation of the services provided. Another factor to be considered under the readily achievable standard is whether or not the customer has provided the rental car company with adequate notice. What constitutes adequate notice will vary depending on factors such as the remoteness of the location, the availability of trained mechanics, the availability of hand controls, and the size of the fleet. For example, notice of an hour or less may be adequate at a large city site where it is readily achievable to stock hand controls and to train mechanics in how to install them properly. On the other hand, notice of two days might be inadequate for a small, rural site where it is not readily achievable to keep hand controls in stock and where there is only a part-time mechanic who has been trained in the proper installation of controls. These examples should not be construed as hard and fast rules; in any given situation, a wide variety of factors must be weighed

to determine whether barrier removal is readily achievable. ACRA members should note that the obligation to engage in readily achievable barrier removal is a continuing one. Over time, barrier removal that initially was not readily achievable may later be required because of changed circumstances. For example, a site that has a full-time trained mechanic only during the summer months may have to shorten the notice period it requires of its customers during those months. I have also enclosed this Department's Title III Technical Assistance Manual which was written to guide individuals and entities having rights and obligations under the Act toward a fuller understanding of the law. Pertinent discussion is found at page two (definition of a place of public accommodation) and pages 28-32 (readily achievable barrier removal). I hope this information is useful to you in understanding the requirements of the ADA. Sincerely,

John L. Wodatch Chief Enclosures (2) Title III Technical Assistance Manual Title III Regulation