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type and size of operation. The Senate report, for instance, gives a few examples. in discussing auxiliary aids, it states:
...d bookstore need not braille its price tags, stock
reach of the person who uses a wheelchair.
At another point, in discussing a public accommodation's obligation to provide "readily achievable" alternatives when removing architectural barriers is not readily achievable, the report gives
...coming to the door to receive or return drycleaning;
IMRA believes that ADA's provisions on integrated settings
are presently open to interpretation as requiring a public accommodation to change its operations in response to the particular wishes of each disabled customer, rather than providing a system of its own devising that effectively serves customers.
In this regard, it needs to be noted that the accommodation system chosen by one type of operation may not be appropriate for other operators, even those within the same overall industry. Traditional department stores may be better able to provide counter personnel to assist shoppers than would be a central check-out self-service mass retailer, which may prefer to provide accommodations through an accessible central location. Even different mass retailers may choose to devise different systems. The essential point is that the facility should have the freedom to provide any alternative method of accommodation that effectively
serves disabled customers.
A related issue in both the employment and public accommodations sections of ADA is the provision of 'auxiliary aids and services. ADA's public accommodations title, in section 302(b)(2)(A) (iii), includes among the act's specific prohibitions:
failure to take such steps as may be necessary to
the absence of auxiliary aids and services, unless the entity can demonstrate that taking such steps would fundamentally alter the nature of the good, service, facility, privilege, advantage or accommodation being offered or result in undue burden.
"Auxiliary aids and services' are defined, in section 3(1),
(A) qualified interpreters or other effective methods of making aurally delivered materials available to individuals with hearing impairments;
(B) qualified readers, taped texts, or other effective
(C) acquisition or modification of equipment or
(D) other similar devices and actions.
In this area, IMRA has three comments or suggestions. First, as the Senate report notes, "undue burden" and "undue hardship -- which cover accommodations in existing buildings and employment - are each a significantly higher standard than 'readily
achievable." so too is the burden of demonstrating that provision of an auxiliary aid or device would alter the fundamental nature of the goods or services being provided. IMRA believes that 'readily achievable" ought to be the standard for provision of aids and devices in employment and public accommodations as well.
As discussed previously, IMRA strongly believes that a sitespecific analysis is the most realistic and productive way of addressing needed accommodations. This should be the case as well for auxiliary aids and devices.
Finally, the Senate report's discussion of auxiliary aids and devices in the area of employment notes that many can be acquired for nominal sums, and that interpreters or readers will often be needed only on an intermittent, on-call basis, while normally performing other duties. The only instance where the report suggests that a reader might be required on even a part-time basis is for a 'otherwise qualified" attorney in a law firm (unless that presented an undue hardship).
Whatever the merits of requiring an employer to provide a part-time reader for a visually-impaired attorney, the discussion of auxiliary aids and devices should explicitly take into account how frequently the service is needed, the size of the particular facility or establishment, and -- for employment purposes -- the economic benefits. A part-time reader may be justified for a
highly skilled, trained and productive employee, such as an attorney, but would not be for a less-skilled or productive position, such as a clerical worker or a store cashier.
Standards for New construction
ADA sets stricter standards for accessibility of new construction for first occupancy thirty months after its effective date. The dramatic and, we believe, unintended impact of restricting such key operational factors as aisle width, counter height and shelf height or depth, which we have already outlined, would remain true for new construction; we believe that its accessibility requirements properly deal with structural factors, not store layout.
In addition, there need to be practical alternatives to completely restructuring fixtures and equipment used in normal operation. For instance, a snack bar or lunch counter should have the alternative of making some -- not all -- of its spaces of a height and width suitable for wheelchairs.
Finally, "potential places of employment should be removed from section 303(a)(1). This is not intended, the Senate report notes, to add to an employer's duties. But if it remains, it may have the effect of bring under the public accommodations section non-public working areas (such as in back rooms and behind check