AUG 9, 1993

The Honorable Tom Harkin United States Senator 210 Walnut Street 733 Federal Building Des Moines, Iowa 50309 Dear Senator Harkin: This letter is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, XX regarding the inability of spectators using wheelchairs to see over other spectators standing in front of them at a concert in the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("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 your constituent in understanding the ADA's requirements. However, it does not constitute a legal interpretation and it is not binding on the Department. As a facility owned by the city of Des Moines, the Veterans Memorial Coliseum is covered by title II of the ADA. That title requires State and local governments to operate each of their programs, services, and activities so that those programs services, and activities, when viewed in their entirety, are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would either fundamentally alter the nature of program, service, or activity, or would constitute an undue financial or administrative burden on the public entity. If, as XX claims, individuals with disabilities who attend a concert are unable to see what other spectators can see, it is unlikely that the Memorial Auditorium has met the requirement of providing program access. In addition, requiring all persons in wheelchairs to sit in the balcony, rather than in the front row or in another accessible row on the main floor, cc: Records; Chrono; Wadatch; McDowney; Bowen; contois; FOIA MAF. \udd\contois\cgl\harkin2

01-02508 -2might also violate the ADA. Thus, unless it would be an undue burden on the city, or a fundamental alteration of the program or service, the city would be required by title II to provide spectators using wheelchairs with seating locations and lines of sight comparable to those for other spectators. For your information, I am enclosing a copy of this Department's regulations implementing title II of the ADA and the Technical Assistance Manual that was developed to assist individuals and entities subject to the ADA to understand the requirements of title II. I hope this information is useful to you in responding to your constituent. Sincerely,

James P. Turner Acting Assistant Attorney General Civil Rights Division Enclosures

01-02509 ​


MAY 28, 1993 John Wodatch, Director Office of the Americans with Disabilities Civil Rights Division U.S. Department of Justice P.C. Box 66788 Washington, DC 20035-2227 Dear Mr. Wodatch: An employee of a residential group home for persons with disabilities in Des Moines, Iowa, contacted my office regarding problems residents encountered while attending concert at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. The employee, XX , was concerned because the residents, who all used wheelchairs, were given seating on the first floor of the auditorium, in the fifteen row, and could not see the performer when people in front of them were standing. Enclosed is a copy of the correspondence XX received in response to a complaint he made with the Veterans Auditorium. XX does not feel that the managers of the auditorium provided reasonable accommodations. I would appreciate your assistance by reviewing the correspondence and informing me of your impression if reasonable accommodations were provided.

Please direct your response to the attention of Denita Swenson in my Des Moines office. The address and telephone number are listed below. Thank you for your help. Sincerely,

Tom Harkin United States Senator TH/ds enclosure

01-02510 VETERANS MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM April 26, 1993 XX XX XX Des Moines, IA 50310 Dear XX, I would first like to thank you for taking the time to call us concerning the problems you encountered during our Michael W. Smith concert. Handicapped seating is a problem we are constantly dealing with and trying to find a better solution.

The wheelchair seating was located in row 15 on the main floor due to our fire code restrictions. Row 14 was held for anyone else in the party so everyone would be able to sit together. Unfortunately, the cashier sold tickets to your group in the wrong row. We have examined the possibility of putting the handicapped seating in the first row. However, in other buildings who have tried this there has been a dramatic increase in the handicapped. People have even gone so far as to rent a wheelchair for the show, so they can have the first row. Unfortunately, we believe this has left people who are truly disabled, unable to get a seat. The use of platforms has also been looked at but brings up another set of problems and concerns. The ramp to get to the platforms must be a certain length depending on the height of the platform which the location for this-must be placed as not to hinder a quick exit in case of emergency for all patrons. This also creates a problem because all people seated behind the platform can not see the entertainer. Our ushers have been instructed to move any wheelchair patrons to a different location, if possible, where they would be able to see better. They could have suggested your party move up to our wheelchair seating in the balcony. This section has only been in use approximately three months, but so far has been very successful and has been well received by our handicapped patrons.

833 Fifth Avenue, Des Moines. Iowa 50309 (515) 242-2946 * FAX (515)242-2988 01-02511 I want to extend my sincere apologies on behalf of myself and Veteran's Auditorium. As your patronage means a lot to us, we are sending you a gift certificate in the amount of $213.75, which is equal to your purchase, to be used at any event in our facility. Sincerely, Jacki Embrey Box Office Manager