# 95 III-1.

2000 July 27, 1993

PL 479,505

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX McMinnville, Oregon 97128 Dear Mr. XXXXXXXX: This is in response to your inquiries regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). You have asked whether a small historical museum operated by a non-profit private society that does not charge for admission is covered by title III of the ADA. Specifically, you inquire whether such a facility would be considered to "affect commerce" within the meaning of title III. The A.D.A. 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 A.D.A.'s requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation or legal advice, and it is not binding on the Department. Title III of the A.D.A. covers entities that own or operate places of public accommodation whose operations affect commerce. Places of public exhibition, such as museums, are among the types of places of public accommodation listed in the statute. The term "affect commerce" is one frequently used in Federal statutes enacted pursuant to Congress' power to regulate commerce. The fact that a private museum operates with a volunteer staff and does not charge admission is not necessarily determinative of whether a facility operates in interstate commerce. Some other factors to examine would be whether the museum is open to out-of-state visitors; whether exhibits originated or were prepared out-of-state; whether the museum has

a gift or souvenir shop that sells items that have moved in interstate commerce; and whether museums of its kind, in the aggregate, would affect interstate commerce. This Department does not undertake investigations to determine whether particular facilities are covered except in the course of a complaint investigation. Your letter notes that the museum has no plans for alterations or new construction. If covered under title III, the museum then needs only to remove barriers to accessibility that are readily achievable to remove. According to the Department of Justice's title III regulation, a copy of which we previously provided to you, readily achievable means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense." Installing ramps, widening doors, and rearranging tables or display cases that obstruct an accessible route through the museum are examples of barriers that may be readily achievable for a small museum to remove. The cost of such actions and the resources of the covered entity are factors in deciding what is readily achievable. Any future alterations or new construction must meet the ADA standards for accessible design. Title III of the ADA also requires covered entities to make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, or procedures necessary to ensure that persons with disabilities may enjoy the same advantages of the museum as do others, so long as such modifications would not fundamentally alter the nature of the museum's services. For example, in order to serve blind patrons, a museum may need to modify policies to allow guide dogs in the museum. In addition to this requirement for modification of policies, title III requires the elimination of any eligibility criteria for admission and participation based upon disability, unless the criteria are necessary to the provision of the museum's services. For example, it would be unlawful to deny admission to someone with Down's Syndrome because of that person's disability. Finally, the museum must provide auxiliary aids and services where necessary for effective communication with persons with disabilities, unless to do so would pose an undue burden on the museum or would fundamentally alter its services. For example, if any information in the museum is given aurally, the museum may be required to provide a transcript of the information or a qualified sign language interpreter to serve a deaf patron if

doing so would not be an undue burden. The cost of providing such aids and services and the resources of the covered entity are among the factors to consider in determining whether providing services and aids would be an undue burden. I hope this information is useful to you. Sincerely,

John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section