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Public Accommodations (Private Businesses)

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) applies to public accommodations, commonly referred to as private businesses.

Public accommodations, which include over five million private establishments, such as restaurants, hotels, theaters, convention centers, retail stores, shopping centers, dry cleaners, doctors' offices, hospitals, museums, etc., must:

  • Provide goods and services in an integrated setting, unless separate or different measures are necessary to ensure equal opportunity
  • Make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures that deny equal access to individuals with disabilities, unless a fundamental alteration would result in the nature of the goods and services provided
  • Remove architectural and structural communication barriers in existing facilities where readily achievable, and provide readily achievable alternative measures when removal of barriers is not readily achievable
  • Maintain accessible features of facilities and equipment
  • Design and construct new facilities and, when undertaking alterations, alter existing facilities in accordance with the ADA Accessibility Guidelines issued by the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board and incorporated in the final Department of Justice title III regulation

Entities controlled by religious organizations, including places of worship, are not covered. Private clubs are not covered, except to the extent that the facilities of the private club are made available to customers or patrons of a place of public accommodation.

For more highlights from ADA Title III, visit the U.S. Department of Justice website.

If you feel you or another person has been discriminated against by a public accommodation (private business) covered by Title III, send a letter to the Department of Justice, at the address below, including the following information:

  • Your full name, address, and telephone number, and the name of the party discriminated against
  • The name of the business, organization, or institution that you believe has discriminated
  • A description of the act or acts of discrimination, the date or dates of the discriminatory acts, and the name or names of the individuals who you believe discriminated
  • Include other information that you believe necessary to support your complaint. Please send copies of relevant documents. Do not send original documents

Sign and send the letter to the address below:

U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights - NYAVE
Washington D.C. 20530

You also have the option of filing your own case in U.S. District Court.

The U.S. Department of Justice provides ADA information through a toll-free Information Line. This service permits businesses, state and local governments, or others to call and ask questions about general or specific ADA requirements including questions about the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

ADA specialists are available Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (eastern time) except on Thursday, when the hours are 12:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Spanish language service is also available.

For general ADA information, answers to specific technical questions, free ADA materials, or information about filing a complaint, call:

  • 800-514-0301 (voice)
  • 800-514-0383 (TTY)

The Florida Commission on Human Relations also provides a means of registering a discrimination complaint under Title III of the ADA against a provider of public accommodations. The commission is the Florida agency that enforces the state's civil rights laws and acts as a human relations resource for the people of Florida. You may file a complaint with the Commission using the phone, in person, or by completing the complaint form found at the Commission web page indicated below:

Florida Commission on Human Relations
2009 Apalachee Parkway; Suite 200
Tallahassee, FL 32301

Fax: 850-488-5291
Phone: 850-488-7082

Visit the Florida Commission on Human Relations Public Accommodations website.

You may also wish to file a complaint against a public accommodation under Miami-Dade County's civil and human rights ordinance. 
The Miami-Dade County Commission on Human Rights is a quasi-judicial as well as an advisory board charged with the enforcement of Miami-Dade County's civil and human rights ordinance, codified as Chapter 11A of the Miami-Dade County Code, as amended. The Commission's mission is to help improve the quality of life of all Miami-Dade County residents by combating discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, credit and financing practices, family leave and domestic violence leave. This is accomplished by receiving, initiating, investigating, and conciliating complaints based on various protected classifications, including disability. If you believe you have been discriminated against, you may file a complaint with the Miami-Dade County Commission on Human Rights by phone, in person, or by writing to the following address:

Miami-Dade County Commission on Human Rights
111 NW 1st Street, 21st Floor
Miami, FL 33128

Telephone: 305-375-5272
Fax: 305-372-6017