Thursday, December 19, 2013

Protest set Sunday for veteran booted from Pulaski Club because of service dog

Thanks to Diane Lederman, The Republican we have this news:

 EASTHAMPTON – On Thanksgiving night, veteran Gary Houle Jr. said he went to the Pulaski Club to meet a friend but was tossed out because of his service dog Princess. Now he and his father, Gary Houle Sr., are organizing a protest against the club Sunday, claiming the younger Houle was discriminated against in violation of federal law. Club officials won’t comment. Scott Vishaway, club vice president, was bartending that night. He could not be reached for comment. But club manager Stanley Kuchyt contacted Vishaway and said that a lawyer would release a statement Thursday. He said until a call, no one had asked to hear the club’s side of the story. Houle admits that he lost it after he was told he had to leave. Houle said his father plays in a pool league at the club, so on Thanksgiving night he decided to meet his friend. He said he doesn’t drink anymore but was going to play Keno and have a soda. He said the waitress told him dogs weren’t allowed, and he explained she was a service dog. She called to Vishaway who came over, and Houle explained to him that Princess was his service dog. Vishaway allegedly asked him for certification, and Houle said he didn’t need to show it, but then agreed. But that wasn’t enough, Houle said and Vishaway allegedly “got more aggressive,” he said and started harassing him. Houle said Vishaway then told him he didn’t have the appropriate harness for the dog. “I started to flip out,” Houle said. He was wearing his camouflage pants, a combat unit sweatshirt and combat uniform bandana. His dog was wearing an Army harness. He said that Vishaway was disrespecting him as a disabled veteran. Houle, 43, said he enlisted in 2008 because “I wanted to do my part.” He served a tour in Iraq and then was injured in Afghanistan in 2011. He was medically discharged in April of this year, he said. His bullmastiff became certified as a service dog Nov. 1, he said. “I have hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, PTSD,” he said. “She keeps an eye an one my surroundings. I can’t go out without her.” He said he wants to make people aware of what happened. “There’s a lot of soldiers coming back with animals," he said. "It’s not right. They should be treated as if they had a wheelchair or any other disabled person, not disrespected like that.” “It’s not right,” said Gary Houle Sr., who was not there that night but has since been putting up posters and alerting veterans groups and the community bout the Sunday protest. “This guy’s been through quite a bit. They shouldn’t do that to someone who’s been there.” He said protesters will gather on Franklin Street and walk to the club at noon. The club meanwhile has a posting on its Facebook page for Veterans Day thanking veterans for service as well as a marking of Pearl Harbor Day Dec. 7. The club that was started to help Polish immigrants celebrated its centennial last year. ....................

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Stop The Medicare Therapy Cap

Some folks may not realize there is serious, harmful, bias against certain disabilities. Nowhere is this bias more devastating that within Medicare. Can you imagine Medicare capping Chemo at $1900 yearly? Or capping Dialysis, or treatment of Diabetes? Yet medicare continues to cap Physical Therapy needed for pain due to serious disabilities such as degenerative disk disease, Rhumatoid Arthritis, Lupis, Osteoarthritis, Fibro Parkinsons, Cerable Palsy. etc, etc etc. Back in Jan 2011, a courageous disabled senior living in VT, Glenda Jimmo brought a lawsuit against the Obama Administration's sibilies, for allowing Medicare to deny Physical Therapy to those who needed is based on Medicar's outrageous "failure to improve standard." The lawsuit was won, as a class action, but few people know about it, and providers have not yet been informed by Medicare (gee, are they dragging their feet?) even tho folks who had to pay for denied medicare coverage can file claimes back to January 2011 for reinimbursement. The outcome means that patients with disabilities and chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease, who in the past were unable to get access to care, should benefit. The changes will apply to the traditional Medicare program and to private Medicare Advantage plans. They apply to people 65 and older, as well as to people under 65 who qualify for Medicare because of disabilities. .............................................................. Plaintiffs argued that Medicare has allowed the contractors that process its claims to use a so-called “improvement” standard over the last few decades. To the Center for Medicare Advocacy and the many other organizations, like the Parkinson’s Foundation, that joined the lawsuit, that standard allowed for cutting off physical, occupational and speech therapy and some inpatient skilled nursing services for patients who had plateaued. Medicare is supposed to pay for reasonable treatment prescribed by a physician for any illness or injury. For the home care patients that this settlement is thought to affect the most, a doctor must have certified that a patient is homebound and must have prescribed treatment that only a skilled practitioner can provide. (The “skilled practitioner” rule keeps Medicare from paying for assistance with everyday activities like bathing and dressing.) Providers will still have to document that the services provided are “reasonable and necessary” for the diagnosis or treatment of a medical condition. They will also have to justify why skilled care is required. But it appears that the focus on the skills needed to provide care rather than the need for improvement will expand the number of Medicare beneficiaries eligible for post-acute care services. The Parkinson’s Action Network was instrumental in arguing that for patients with degenerative diseases, holding steady or degenerating more slowly than one might otherwise is often the definition of success. Others argued that payment practices led to physicians changing their practice patterns, as doctors decided prescribing treatment that would not be covered would be pointless. The settlement specifies that skilled care can qualify for Medicare coverage even if it merely serves to maintain someone’s current condition or prevents or slows further deterioration. Certain patients who have had claims rejected will be able to resubmit them. Various patient advocacy groups have expressed hope that Medicare will soon pay for many forms of therapy that it has not covered previously. One example cited is cerebral palsy patients, for whom physical therapy to maintain muscle mass is one possibility. For multiple sclerosis patients, there may be more approval for treatments for spasticity and gait training to prevent falls. ................................................. Problems and question remain Two big remaining questions that patient advocates are still asking are how many people may benefit from the clarification of the regulations, and how quickly. A separate issue is that Medicare does have individual annual limits in certain areas; this settlement will not affect those benefit limits. YEP, Medicare plans to deny PT based on its hard cap of $1900 for 2014! Call your elected Congressmen and women and ask for a full repeal of the PT CAP. Elizabeth Warren: 1 202 224 4543; Markey: 1 202 224 2742

ADAPT! People Are Dying! Shame On You!

I am new to ADAPT. I am not an activist, per se, but I genuinely appreciate the sacrifices that ADAPT members have made over the years. At yesterdays meeting of Mass ADAPT we learned that National ADAPT has recognized us as a chapter. Hooray! Let Mass ADAPT action begin! Shown on: Flash Mob action! YES!!!! You go ADAPT!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

If Only The MBTA Would Train Bus Drivers To Defend Disabled From Bullying

Published on Jun 14, 2012 A female passenger got kicked off the bus by her fellow passengers in New Taipei City after making a scene and accusing a guide dog of being "too stinky." The female passenger was so out of line, a high school student stepped up and asked passengers to vote. All the passengers voted against the woman who eventually made a shameful exit. The MBTA should be ashamed for allowing other passengers to bully service dogs and disabled.

Veolia Bus Driver Tells Blind Man With Guide Dog To Get Off Bus

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A UNCG student says he was asked to get off of a city bus because the bus driver was not sure if his service dog was allowed. John Dyson rides the city's Higher Education Area Transit, or HEAT buses daily. He lost his vision because of a genetic disorder and uses a guide dog to help him get around. Sunday, he boarded a HEAT bus like he did countless times before, but unlike ever before, he says he was asked to get off. "I felt humiliated, I felt embarrassed, like I was being singled out because I have a service animal," explained Dyson. He added, "[The driver] said 'No you can't get on the bus, I need to talk to call my supervisor' and I said 'Well according to the [Americans with Disabilities Act], this dog is a service animal, and his allowed anywhere I am'." Kevin Elwood with the Greensboro Transit Authority says the new driver was not sure of the law. "If there is a question, we just ask, 'Is this a service animal?' and if they say 'yes' then they are allowed to board," explained Elwood. Instead of following that procedure, the driver called security and his supervisor. "I find it kind of lacking that a new employee, even a new employee wouldn't have a basic understanding or appreciation of the situation," said Bruce Pomeroy, Chair, Greensboro Mayor's Committee for Person's with Disabilities. Pomeroy is also the Director of The Office of Accessibility Resources and Services at UNCG. Dyson met with him Monday to tell him about his experience with HEAT. Pomeroy called GTA to offer sensitivity training, but Elwood said the drivers already receive that. "[The driver] has been on the job for 90 days so yes he should have known," said Elwood. "We felt that if he followed those procedures, then none of this would have happened." Now, Dyson wants to make sure an incident like this never happens again. "If this becomes a teaching moment and someone else in my position doesn't have to go through this, then all this has been worth it," he said. GTA is investigating this and they say this an isolated incident. But because of what happened to Dyson, they're reminding all of their drivers about the rules and procedures regarding service animals. The driver, like all other GTA drivers, is a contract employee hired by the company Veolia Transportation. WFMY News 2 reached out to them and they said after reviewing the investigation, they will determine if the driver needs more training. If they find he does, he will receive that training immediately. WFMY News 2

Friday, October 11, 2013

Hidden Disabilities: Hypermobility

here is my first post on Hidden Disabilities, so folks can learn that although though one may not be able to 'observe' the disability, the disability can be observed in clinical exams,blood tests and scans. Hypermobility syndrome was recognized as a distinct pathology by Kirk et al1 in 1967. Since then, the syndrome has been identified by a variety of names: “hypermobility syndrome (HMS),”2–9 “joint hypermobility syndrome,”10–13 “hypermobile joint syndrome,”14 and “benign hypermobile joint syndrome.”15,16 Other reports do not recognize this disorder as a syndrome, but refer to the manifestations of joint hyperlaxity, joint hypermobility, or articular hypermobility. In the International Nosology of Heritable Disorders of Connective Tissue, Beighton et al17 identified this syndrome as “familial articular hypermobility syndrome.” Beighton et al excluded genetic diseases that include joint hypermobility as an associated finding, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, osteogenesis imperfecta, and Marfan syndrome. Despite the proliferation of names, HMS has been given relatively little attention in the literature. Most reports are in the rheumatology literature, with virtually none in the orthopedic or physical therapy literature. This lack of reports may be due to several reasons. First, individuals with HMS are often seen by orthopedic physicians and physical therapists as a result of an acute or chronic disorder, which may be treated without the health care provider acknowledging the underlying HMS. Second, the diagnostic criteria for HMS are not well-defined and have not been consistent among research reports.8,18–20 In particular, patients with HMS lack laboratory or radiological findings that could identify HMS, unlike many other rheumatologic or orthopedic conditions. The diagnosis, therefore, is frequently made through exclusion of other disorders. Third, individuals with HMS often do not have the decreased mobility seen with many chronic conditions,4 nor do they always have the inflammation seen with many acute conditions. Finally, because HMS lacks a definitive pharmacological or surgical treatment, physicians may have perceived little benefit in its diagnosis. Patients with HMS often have complaints that are frequently diffuse, chronic, and inconsistent with observed pathology. These individuals may be improperly identified as having hypochondria, as malingering, or as having nonspecific chronic pain, without further investigation into the source of their complaints.11,21 Individuals with HMS may not get a diagnosis, or they might be misdiagnosed.22 Failure to recognize the underlying HMS may lead to unnecessary or inappropriate diagnostic studies, surgical procedures, and patient management,23 especially for children.24 Some reports of HMS describe it as “benign” when compared with the serious connective tissue diseases that have hypermobility as one of their signs.15,16,25,26 Hypermobility syndrome has also been described as representing the upper end of the normal distribution for ligamentous laxity,27,28 with no greater incidence of pain or injury.29,30 Some authors25,31–34 have even proposed that hypermobility may be an asset in certain sports or professions. The mobility present in people with HMS, however, is considered beyond the normal range by most researchers,6 with repeated reports describing increased incidence of pain and associated disorders (Tab. 1). A goal of this update is to increase awareness, understanding, and discussion of HMS through examination of the prevalence, diagnosis, clinical presentation, and pathophysiology. Although physical therapy for people with HMS has been recommended by many authors,2,3,11,26,35 there are no published reports regarding the efficacy of physical therapy or any other treatment for individuals with HMS. Hopefully, increased recognition will lead to increased research about this disorder. Chronic pain in people with HMS is not always associated with inflammation. Some authors2,38 recommend the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, whereas other authors11,80 report that the use of these drugs is neither practical nor effective. Directions for Future Research Many unanswered questions remain regarding HMS. Prospective studies of physical therapist patients are needed to determine the percentage of patients with HMS. Such studies could determine, for example, how many patients with HMS have musculoskeletal problems versus nerve compression disorders. Although many authors recommend exercise for these patients, few have any data on which to base that recommendation. Moderate- and low-impact strengthening exercises, cardiovascular exercise for weight control, and stretching of muscles rather than joints seem theoretically sound recommendations, but the assumptions on which these recommendations are based must be tested. Given the predisposition of patients with HMS for cumulative trauma injuries, studies are needed to determine how much exercise is appropriate for these individuals. The use of orthotic devices, braces, and taping for patients with HMS also warrants further research.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Service Dogs Welcome

This post is a work in progress. It is designed to assist those who may be responsible for welcoming guests who are accompanied by Service Animals. Since the ADA updated its Service Animal policy in 2011, only dogs are considered Service Animals, so many may refer to their Service Animal as a Service Dog.

Here is a little quiz for you:

In the photo below, which dog is a Service Animal?

Again, in the photo below, which dog is a Service Animal?

Stay with me now, in the photo below, which dog is the Service Dog?

OK, here are the answers. In photo #1, both dogs are service dogs, and both of their handlers are not obviously disabled. They have what we refer to as Hidden Disabilities. In photo #2, both dogs are Service Dogs, and again, both handlers have hidden disabilities. In Photo #3, the smaller dog, on the right, is the Service Dog, having fun at the dog park. That dog is the same dog that appears in photos #1 and #2.

So, how can you tell, when someone comes to your place, if it is a service dog, especially if the handler has a hidden disability? lets ask the Department Of Justice what they have to say about this issue....

Inquiries, Exclusions, Charges, and Other Specific Rules Related to Service Animals

  • When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.
  • Allergies and fear of dogs are not valid reasons for denying access or refusing service to people using service animals. When a person who is allergic to dog dander and a person who uses a service animal must spend time in the same room or facility, for example, in a school classroom or at a homeless shelter, they both should be accommodated by assigning them, if possible, to different locations within the room or different rooms in the facility.
  • A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.
  • Establishments that sell or prepare food must allow service animals in public areas even if state or local health codes prohibit animals on the premises.
  • People with disabilities who use service animals cannot be isolated from other patrons, treated less favorably than other patrons, or charged fees that are not charged to other patrons without animals. In addition, if a business requires a deposit or fee to be paid by patrons with pets, it must waive the charge for service animals.
  • If a business such as a hotel normally charges guests for damage that they cause, a customer with a disability may also be charged for damage caused by himself or his service animal.
  • Staff are not required to provide care or food for a service animal.

Please understand that when you modify your "No Pets Allowed" policy to accommodate a Person With A Disability, PWD, to equal enjoyment, ie equal access, you are not allowing the service dog to enter, you are allowing the Person With The Disability access. Just as PWDs using wheelchairs, canes or walkers are permitted to enter, PWDs accompanied by Service Dogs are allowed to enter. When you refuse, you are discriminating against the person, not the dog. It is a violation of the law.

Why I don't put a 'sign' on my dog

Many folks are under the misunderstanding that putting a sign, cape, harness on one's Service Dog would eliminate discrimination. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Since I do not have an observable disability, walking with my Service Dog with a sign on it has resulted in more discriminationharassment and even bullying. Strangers will accost me with 'your not disabled ' or 'your not blind,' or worse, they believe that since they cannot see my disability I must be 'mental' and deserve to be humiliated in public. Sadly, the abuse of people With Disabilities, even in places of public accommodations ie epidemic in the US, and fer folks are moved to sympathize with the disabled, much less lend a helping hand. 

Back in the Middle Ages we had Disability Laws to exclude and control Jews.
Disabilities were legal restrictions and limitations placed on Jews in the Middle Ages. 

Disabilities were legal restrictions and limitations placed on Jews in the Middle Ages. They included provisions requiring Jews to wear specific and identifying clothing such as the Jewish hat and the yellow badge, restricting Jews to certain cities and towns or in certain parts of towns (ghettos), and forbidding Jews to enter certain trades (for example selling new clothes in medieval Sweden). Disabilities also included special taxes levied on Jews, exclusion from public life, restraints on the performance of religious ceremonies, and linguistic censorship. Some countries went even further and completely expelled Jews, for example England in 1290 (Jews were readmitted in 1655) and Spain in 1492 (readmitted in 1868).
The disabilities were lifted in the late 18th and the 19th century. In 1791, Revolutionary France was the first country to abolish them altogether, followed by Prussia in 1848, the United Kingdom in 1858 after an almost 30-year struggle championed by Isaac Lyon Goldsmid[1] (Jewish Disabilities Bill), and the newly united Germany in 1871.
The first Jewish settlers in North America arrived in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam in 1654; they were forbidden to hold public office, open a retail shop, or establish a synagogue. When the colony was seized by the British in 1664 Jewish rights remained unchanged, but by 1671Asser Levy was the first Jew to serve on a jury in North America.[2]

"please note that today the companion animal did not wear an identifying vest while on the visit to our offices, making it difficult to identify the nature of the animal."

Folks, how do you know it is a service dog? The DOJ states clearly and unequivocally, you ask the handler, the PWD.

BTW: This does not mean that the PWD doesn't need 'documentation,' it means the PWD is not required to carry it with them, or show it to you. How would you like to show your medical records when you enter a place of public accommodation.


This post is dedicated to Marilyn. I apologies to you that you were harassed last evening due accompanying me, who was accompanied by my Service Dog. If the security guard had questions about my Service Dog he should have addressed them to me and not to you. Many people are afraid of people with disabilities and do not speak directly to them, but to their associates. This is one of the reasons the ADA was passed.

One main difference between the ADA, the Civil Rights Act of 1990.and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is the latter requires you show intent to discriminate while the ADA does not require intent.

While the ADA is a civil rights law, threatening to arrest a PWD to deny their exercising their civil rights is a criminal offence in the state of MA.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Do PWDs Accompanied by Service Dogs Need Permission From Other Passengers?

Recently the NYTs published an article about Service Dogs. I want to clarify some main points.

 1. The managing entity has no legal obligation to consider the rights of other residents who do not have a disability.

 2. Allergies and fear of dogs are not legally recognized disabilities and as such, these are not legitimate legal reasons to keep dogs out of a building and to limit access of dogs to keep them out of elevators.

 3. There was so much bias against dogs, I got harassed publicly and profanely by others repeatedly. One man pushed me because I wouldn't remove my dog from the elevator.

 4. This is a good article with the exception that it kept referring to service animals as pets. Legally, they are not pets. In fact in boarding a bus, a library, a pharmacy, a trick question to deny your service dog's access is "Is that your pet?" Answer yes, and it's no pets allowed. Service dogs are not pets. a truer indication of if your dog fits in and is a good service animal. The issue is training.No fighting, soiling, jumping, interacting with anyone while on task, and you pick up after them.

 5. People who are allergic to dogs are exposed in their daily lives to dander from people who have dogs.Then there are people like me who gag from the odor of some perfumes, yet I have to suck it up in enclosed spaces.There are people with chemical sensitivities for whom some scents and chemicals are life-threatening. As far as I'm concerned,when buildings ban the use of perfumes and other scented products,then an ethical case might be made for not permitting service dogs or emotional support dogs.Federal law (ADA) has regulations that state that allergies to dogs is not a reason to deny access to service dogs.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Crime Against Disabled By The Numbers

Published on Sep 12, 2012 In this 7-minute video, Jim Stream discusses the 2012 National Survey on Abuse of People with Disabilities. His presentation talks about the origins of the survey, its methodology, who took it, and how the results will be used. This video will be played as an introduction to a more detailed presentation by Dr. Nora J. Baladerian and attorney Thomas F. Coleman. The presentation is at a conference sponsored by the National Center for Victims of Crime in New Orleans on September 20, 2012. Jim Stream is the Executive Director of The Arc of Riverside County. In MA 32 cases in 2010? were referred for investigation but none were prosecuted. One of the things you count on, when you are a victim of a crime, is the police will investigate and seek the arrest of the individual responsible. We trust that the perpetrator will be prosecuted and punished. But how would you feel if that didnt happen and you were told to stop lying? This is what happened to my at the hands of the MBTA Transit Police on July 25, 2013.

Monday, September 23, 2013

PWDs Gain Independence With Trained Service Dogs

I Didn't Know A Siberian Husky Could Be A Service Dog

Oh, Yea!

Abuse Of People With Disabilities Not Taken Seriously

The video above is terrifying. I don't have a video of what happened to me on the Park St elevator, but here are a couple of still shots. Of course, this is not to claim that what was done to me is as bad as what happened to those in the video above, but it is to demonstrate that sadistic behavior is alive and well on the MBTA, and that the mBTA does not take it seriously, and neither do the MA Courts. In some states battery of disabled folks is taken seriously, and here the manager was charged. However,here in MA the woman who struck me repetedly until I collapsed in the Park St elevator was NOT charged, even though she admitted doing it. The MBTA police claimed she had a right to self defence because I was accompianied by a trained service dog. She claimed that a group of people who gatehered to taunt and harrass me as I lay on the floor calling for medical assistance were "helping her." Yep! That's me on the floor being taunted and harrassed by other MBTA Riders. .

Do You Belong To A Club That Excludes Jews?

The message in this video is that unless good people step up, people With Disabilities will continue to be abused, disrespected and humiliated in public.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Assume that I am capable,

Service dog leads blind man from tower on 9/11 By SHARON ROZNIK, The Reporter Media Published 7:54 am, Thursday, September 19, 2013 FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) — "Forward," Michael Hingson told his guide dog Roselle as she led him down 1,463 steps in Tower 2 at the World Trade Center. Blind since birth, Hingson said his ability to maneuver through the sightless world was an asset on Sept. 11, 2001. As he stood in his office that morning on the 78th floor, the building shook and tipped in one direction about 20 feet. As soon as it righted itself, he grabbed Roselle's leash and thought about what to do. "Roselle was yawning and wagging her tail so I knew we had some time to evacuate," Hingson said. "My friend (David Frank) said 'You don't understand. You can't see it,' but I didn't need to see it. I trusted my dog." Hingson is author of the New York Times best-selling book "Thunder dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog & the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero." He spoke recently at Moraine Park Technical College about opportunities that can be gained from life lessons. "No matter what happens with things we have no control over, at the same time we have control of our actions and the choices we make," he told the crowd. At his feet lay Africa, his guide dog of five years. She replaced Roselle, who passed away in 2011, but not before receiving numerous honors for canine heroism, including the 2011 American Humane Society Hero Dog award. Suddenly, the building dropped about 10 feet and there was a strong odor of jet fuel, he said, continuing his harrowing story. As Hingson and his friend made their way down the stairwell they passed burn victims and a woman who said she couldn't breathe or go on. They surrounded her with a giant hug. "Then David began walking one floor below me and shouting up what he saw. It was a heroic gesture as he acted like an advanced scout — a beacon to the rest of us," Hingson said. They passed firefighters at the 30th floor, ascending the tower. One of them bent down to pet Roselle, something one should never do, Hingson said. Never pet a guide dog in a working harness. "It was the last unconditional love that firefighter ever got," Hingson said. About 9:45 a.m. they finally reached the ground floor and headed out into the sunlight and away from the chaos. He describes what he heard next — the sound of the building collapsing — like a freight train and a waterfall. "We were running south on Broadway, being hit by flying debris and engulfed in a dust cloud so thick I could feel it in my throat and lungs," he said. Roselle stopped in front of a railing with steps that led down into the subway. Later, making their way along Fulton Street, they heard the second tower come down. It wasn't until 7 p.m. that evening that he was able to finally speak with his wife, Karen. The next day Hingson contacted Blind Dogs for the Blind and told Roselle's story and that led to his first guest appearance on the Larry King Show. The story went viral. More than 25,000 survivors escaped the towers that day. "We should always remember 9/11 and learn lessons from it. That is all a part of moving on," he said. Lion's Club member Ed Barnes told Hingson that people in Fond du Lac were the first to originate the idea of a heroes postal stamp commemorating 9/11. The stamp features New York firefighters and an American flag. Lois Plum, on the committee for the local Books Between Bites group, said once she opened the book, she couldn't put "Thunder Dog" down. "I tell everyone I know that they have to read this story," she said. Hingson grew up in Palmsdale, Calif. Born two months premature, his blindness was caused by receiving pure oxygen in the incubator at the hospital. Doctors told his parents that it would be better to send him away. Instead his parents raised Hingson to believe he could become anything he wanted. Ruth Smith of Fond du Lac said she had read the book and wanted to meet Hingson. Her son was also born premature, the same year as the author, but did not suffer effects from the oxygen because there was a leak in the incubator. "There are just so many 'what ifs' in life. I loved the way he tells his story," she said. The author earned a master's degree in physics and was working as a sales manager for a Fortune 500 company when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Afterward he became a spokesperson for Blind Dogs for the Blind. Hingson is ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as ambassador for the American Humane Association's 2012 Hero Dog Awards. He runs Roselle's Dream Foundation, proceeds from which help fund technology for blind children. He points out that blindness is not a handicapped, referring to people who can see as "light-dependent." Attitudes about blindness prevail. A total of 70 percent of blind people are unemployed, Hingson said, and federal law still allows employers to pay someone with a disability below minimum wage. "Assume that I am capable," he said.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tony Coelho Author Of The ADA

I Don't Care! The witnesses spoke of their own experiences with discrimination. A young woman who has cerebral palsy, told the Senators about a local movie theater that would not let her attend because of her disability. When her mother called the theater to protest that this attitude "sounded like discrimination," the theater owner stated "I don't care what it sounds like." This story became a symbol for the ADA and was mentioned throughout the floor debates and at the signing. The members and the President related this story to demonstrate that America "does care what it sounds like" and will no longer tolerate this type of discrimination. Interview with Bobby Coward. I'm a United States Air Force vet. I suffered a spinal cord injury in 1991 as a result of an auto accident. In which I tried to reenter my career field in aviation maintenance, technology- aircraft mechanic. Real good at it, too. And as a result of me not being able to turn a wrench, my country deemed me unemployable, unfit for society. And the ADA would guarantee that I'm fit for society. What does the 20th anniversary of the ADA mean to you? The 20th anniversary of the ADA means that I have the right in the United States of America, as well as other Americans do, to reside in the community with civil rights and civil liberties that everyone else has. It's my foundation that ensures that my rights are guaranteed. How has the ADA affected your life? The ADA has affected me in such ways, since I suffered my spinal cord injury in 1991, that will provide me with full inclusion into society, not more focused in the District of Columbia. You know, that's my focus when I was denied access into buildings, access into transportation... I share a particular story with you that will kind of define what it means to me. As an African American, my senior leaders tell me, educate me on a time when African Americans were-had to ride in the back of the bus. And now with the ADA, now I know my senior leaders within the disability movement share with me that, at that time, individuals with disabilities weren't able to get on the bus. And this applied to this day. So what the ADA means to me is that now I am able to ride on the bus or take any other public transportation options that are available to the general public. So it means that I am included in society again. What changes have you seen as a result of the ADA? I've seen significant legislative changes for inclusion of persons with disabilities around access, around benefits, transportation, employment, housing. I've seen enforcement of these rights. Actually, in my community, I see a lot of signage, I see awareness among the general public of the ADA and persons with disabilities. What still needs to be done regarding the ADA? Education. Education of the new leadership that's coming into Congress. Education of industry types, industrial, Realtors, the medical profession, around persons with disabilities. And the awareness, we need more enforcement, we need more opportunities for economic development. And we also, we just need, a general campaign that will target society as a whole, so they could understand that being disabled is not a sickness, it's just a dexterity, a physical condition. That we are very much a part of society, we are not deemed unfit for society; and that needs to be changed.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Federal Register Final Rule; with explanations: Service Dogs: 9/15/2010

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 178 (Wednesday, September 15, 2010)] [Rules and Regulations] [Pages 56236-56358] From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [] [FR Doc No: 2010-21824]
 DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 28 CFR Part 36 [CRT Docket No. 106; AG Order No. 3181-2010] RIN 1190-AA44
 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities

 AGENCY: Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division. 
ACTION: Final rule.
 SUMMARY: This final rule revises the Department of Justice (Department) regulation that implements title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act

 ``Service Animal'' Section 36.104 of the 1991 title III regulation defines a ``service animal'' as ``any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding individuals with impaired vision, alerting individuals with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items.'' Section 36.302(c)(1) of the 1991 title III regulation requires that ``[g]enerally, a public accommodation shall modify policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a service animal by an individual with a disability.'' Section 36.302(c)(2) of the 1991 title III regulation states that ``a public accommodation [is not required] to supervise or care for a service animal.'' The Department has issued guidance and provided technical assistance and publications concerning service animals since the 1991 regulations became effective. In the NPRM, the Department proposed to modify the definition of service animal and asked for public input on several issues related to the service animal provisions of the 1991 title III regulation: whether the Department should clarify the phrase ``providing minimal protection'' in the definition or remove it; whether there are any circumstances where a service animal ``providing minimal protection'' would be appropriate or expected; whether certain species should be eliminated from the definition of ``service animal,'' and, if so, which types of animals should be excluded; whether ``common domestic animal'' should be part of the definition; and whether a size or weight limitation should be imposed for common domestic animals, even if the animal satisfies the ``common domestic animal'' part of the NPRM definition. The Department received extensive comments on these issues, as well as requests to clarify the obligations of public accommodations to accommodate individuals with disabilities who use service animals, and has modified the final rule in response. In the interests of avoiding unnecessary repetition, the Department has [[Page 56266]] elected to discuss the issues raised in the NPRM questions about service animals and the corresponding public comments in the following discussion of the definition of ``service animal.'' The Department's final rule defines ``service animal'' as ``any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. Other species of animals, whether wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals for the purposes of this definition. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability. Examples of work or tasks include, but are not limited to, assisting individuals who are blind or have low vision with navigation and other tasks, alerting individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of people or sounds, providing non-violent protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, assisting an individual during a seizure, alerting individuals to the presence of allergens, retrieving items such as medicine or the telephone, providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability to individuals with mobility disabilities, and helping persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors. The crime deterrent effects of an animal's presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.'' This definition has been designed to clarify a key provision of the ADA. Many covered entities indicated that they are confused regarding their obligations under the ADA with regard to individuals with disabilities who use service animals. Individuals with disabilities who use trained guide or service dogs are concerned that if untrained or unusual animals are termed ``service animals,'' their own right to use guide or service dogs may become unnecessarily restricted or questioned. Some individuals who are not individuals with disabilities have claimed, whether fraudulently or sincerely (albeit mistakenly), that their animals are service animals covered by the ADA, in order to gain access to hotels, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation. The increasing use of wild, exotic, or unusual species, many of which are untrained, as service animals has also added to the confusion. Finally, individuals with disabilities who have the legal right under the Fair Housing Act (FHAct) to use certain animals in their homes as a reasonable accommodation to their disabilities have assumed that their animals also qualify under the ADA. This is not necessarily the case, as discussed below. The Department recognizes the diverse needs and preferences of individuals with disabilities protected under the ADA, and does not wish to unnecessarily impede individual choice. Service animals play an integral role in the lives of many individuals with disabilities, and with the clarification provided by the final rule, individuals with disabilities will continue to be able to use their service animals as they go about their daily activities. The clarification will also help to ensure that the fraudulent or mistaken use of other animals not qualified as service animals under the ADA will be deterred. A more detailed analysis of the elements of the definition and the comments responsive to the service animal provisions of the NPRM follows. Providing minimal protection. The 1991 title III regulation included language stating that ``minimal protection'' was a task that could be performed by an individually trained service animal for the benefit of an individual with a disability. In the Department's ``ADA Business Brief on Service Animals'' (2002), the Department interpreted the ``minimal protection'' language within the context of a seizure (i.e., alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure). The Department received many comments in response to the question of whether the ``minimal protection'' language should be clarified. Many commenters urged the removal of the ``minimal protection'' language from the service animal definition for two reasons: (1) The phrase can be interpreted to allow any dog that is trained to be aggressive to qualify as a service animal simply by pairing the animal with a person with a disability; and (2) The phrase can be interpreted to allow any untrained pet dog to qualify as a service animal, since many consider the mere presence of a dog to be a crime deterrent, and thus sufficient to meet the minimal protection standard. These commenters argued, and the Department agrees, that these interpretations were not contemplated under the original title III regulation. While many commenters stated that they believe that the ``minimal protection'' language should be eliminated, other commenters recommended that the language be clarified, but retained. Commenters favoring clarification of the term suggested that the Department explicitly exclude the function of attack or exclude those animals that are trained solely to be aggressive or protective. Other commenters identified non-violent behavioral tasks that could be construed as minimally protective, such as interrupting self-mutilation, providing safety checks and room searches, reminding the handler to take medications, and protecting the handler from injury resulting from seizures or unconsciousness. Several commenters noted that the existing direct threat defense, which allows the exclusion of a service animal if the animal exhibits unwarranted or unprovoked violent behavior or poses a direct threat, prevents the use of ``attack dogs'' as service animals. One commenter noted that the use of a service animal trained to provide ``minimal protection'' may impede access to care in an emergency, for example, where the first responder is unable or reluctant to approach a person with a disability because the individual's service animal is in a protective posture suggestive of aggression. Many organizations and individuals stated that in the general dog training community, ``protection'' is code for attack or aggression training and should be removed from the definition. Commenters stated that there appears to be a broadly held misconception that aggression-trained animals are appropriate service animals for persons with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While many individuals with PTSD may benefit by using a service animal, the work or tasks performed appropriately by such an animal would not involve unprovoked aggression but could include actively cuing the handler by nudging or pawing the handler to alert to the onset of an episode and removing the individual from the anxiety-provoking environment. The Department recognizes that despite its best efforts to provide clarification, the ``minimal protection'' language appears to have been misinterpreted. While the Department maintains that protection from danger is one of the key functions that service animals perform for the benefit of persons with disabilities, the Department recognizes that an animal individually trained to provide aggressive protection, such as an attack dog, is not appropriately considered a service animal. Therefore, the Department has decided to modify the ``minimal protection'' language to read ``non-violent protection,'' thereby excluding so-called ``attack dogs'' or dogs with traditional ``protection training'' as service animals. The Department believes that this modification to the service animal definition will eliminate confusion, without restricting unnecessarily the type of work or tasks that service animals may perform. The Department's modification also clarifies that the crime-deterrent effect of a dog's presence, by itself, does not qualify as work or tasks for purposes of the service animal definition. Alerting to intruders. The phrase ``alerting to intruders'' is related to the issues of minimal protection and the work or tasks an animal may perform to meet the definition of a service animal. In the original 1991 regulatory text, this phrase was intended to identify service animals that alert individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to the presence of others. This language has been misinterpreted by some to apply to dogs that are trained specifically to provide aggressive protection, resulting in the assertion that such training qualifies a dog as a service animal under the ADA. The Department reiterates that public accommodations are not required to admit any animal whose use poses a direct threat. In addition, the Department has decided to remove the word ``intruders'' from the service animal definition and replace it with the phrase ``the presence of people or sounds.'' The Department believes this clarifies that so-called ``attack training'' or other aggressive response types of training that cause a dog to provide an aggressive response do not qualify a dog as a service animal under the ADA. Conversely, if an individual uses a breed of dog that is perceived to be aggressive because of breed reputation, stereotype, or the history or experience the observer may have with other dogs, but the dog is under the control of the individual with a disability and does not exhibit aggressive behavior, the public accommodation cannot exclude the individual or the animal from the place of public accommodation. The animal can only be removed if it engages in the behaviors [[Page 56267]] mentioned in Sec. 36.302(c) (as revised in the final rule) or if the presence of the animal constitutes a fundamental alteration to the nature of the goods, services, facilities, and activities of the place of public accommodation. ``Doing work'' or ``performing tasks.'' The NPRM proposed that the Department maintain the requirement first articulated in the 1991 title III regulation that in order to qualify as a service animal, the animal must ``perform tasks'' or ``do work'' for the individual with a disability. The phrases ``perform tasks'' and ``do work'' describe what an animal must do for the benefit of an individual with a disability in order to qualify as a service animal. The Department received a number of comments in response to the NPRM proposal urging the removal of the term ``do work'' from the definition of a service animal. These commenters argued that the Department should emphasize the performance of tasks instead. The Department disagrees. Although the common definition of work includes the performance of tasks, the definition of work is somewhat broader, encompassing activities that do not appear to involve physical action. One service dog user stated that, in some cases, ``critical forms of assistance can't be construed as physical tasks,'' noting that the manifestations of ``brain-based disabilities,'' such as psychiatric disorders and autism, are as varied as their physical counterparts. The Department agrees with this statement but cautions that unless the animal is individually trained to do something that qualifies as work or a task, the animal is a pet or support animal and does not qualify for coverage as a service animal. A pet or support animal may be able to discern that the handler is in distress, but it is what the animal is trained to do in response to this awareness that distinguishes a service animal from an observant pet or support animal. The NPRM contained an example of ``doing work'' that stated ``a psychiatric service dog can help some individuals with dissociative identity disorder to remain grounded in time or place.'' 73 FR 34508, 34521 (June 17, 2008). Several commenters objected to the use of this example, arguing that grounding was not a ``task'' and therefore the example inherently contradicted the basic premise that a service animal must perform a task in order to mitigate a disability. Other commenters stated that ``grounding'' should not be included as an example of ``work'' because it could lead to some individuals claiming that they should be able to use emotional support animals in public because the dog makes them feel calm or safe. By contrast, one commenter with experience in training service animals explained that grounding is a trained task based upon very specific behavioral indicators that can be observed and measured. These tasks are based upon input from mental health practitioners, dog trainers, and individuals with a history of working with psychiatric service dogs. It is the Department's view that an animal that is trained to ``ground'' a person with a psychiatric disorder does work or performs a task that would qualify it as a service animal as compared to an untrained emotional support animal whose presence affects a person's disability. It is the fact that the animal is trained to respond to the individual's needs that distinguishes an animal as a service animal. The process must have two steps: Recognition and response. For example, if a service animal senses that a person is about to have a psychiatric episode and it is trained to respond, for example, by nudging, barking, or removing the individual to a safe location until the episode subsides, then the animal has indeed performed a task or done work on behalf of the individual with the disability, as opposed to merely sensing an event. One commenter suggested defining the term ``task,'' presumably to improve the understanding of the types of services performed by an animal that would be sufficient to qualify the animal for coverage. The Department believes that the common definition of the word ``task'' is sufficiently clear and that it is not necessary to add to the definitions section. However, the Department has added examples of other kinds of work or tasks to help illustrate and provide clarity to the definition. After careful evaluation of this issue, the Department has concluded that the phrases ``do work'' and ``perform tasks'' have been effective during the past two decades to illustrate the varied services provided by service animals for the benefit of individuals with all types of disabilities. Thus, the Department declines to depart from its longstanding approach at this time. Species limitations. When the Department originally issued its title III regulation in the early 1990s, the Department did not define the parameters of acceptable animal species. At that time, few anticipated the variety of animals that would be promoted as service animals in the years to come, which ranged from pigs and miniature horses to snakes, iguanas, and parrots. The Department has followed this particular issue closely, keeping current with the many unusual species of animals represented to be service animals. Thus, the Department has decided to refine further this aspect of the service animal definition in the final rule. The Department received many comments from individuals and organizations recommending species limitations. Several of these commenters asserted that limiting the number of allowable species would help stop erosion of the public's trust, which has resulted in reduced access for many individuals with disabilities who use trained service animals that adhere to high behavioral standards. Several commenters suggested that other species would be acceptable if those animals could meet nationally recognized behavioral standards for trained service dogs. Other commenters asserted that certain species of animals (e.g., reptiles) cannot be trained to do work or perform tasks, so these animals would not be covered. In the NPRM, the Department used the term ``common domestic animal'' in the service animal definition and excluded reptiles, rabbits, farm animals (including horses, miniature horses, ponies, pigs, and goats), ferrets, amphibians, and rodents from the service animal definition. 73 FR 34508, 34553 (June 17, 2008). However, the term ``common domestic animal'' is difficult to define with precision due to the increase in the number of domesticated species. Also, several State and local laws define a ``domestic'' animal as an animal that is not wild. The Department is compelled to take into account the practical considerations of certain animals and to contemplate their suitability in a variety of public contexts, such as restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals, and performing arts venues, as well as suitability for urban environments. The Department agrees with commenters' views that limiting the number and types of species recognized as service animals will provide greater predictability for public accommodations as well as added assurance of access for individuals with disabilities who use dogs as service animals. As a consequence, the Department has decided to limit this rule's coverage of service animals to dogs, which are the most common service animals used by individuals with disabilities. Wild animals, monkeys, and other nonhuman primates. Numerous business entities endorsed a narrow definition of acceptable service animal species, and asserted that there are certain animals (e.g., reptiles) that cannot be trained to do work or perform tasks. Other commenters suggested that the Department should identify excluded animals, such as birds and llamas, in the final rule. Although one commenter noted that wild animals bred in captivity should be permitted to be service animals, the Department has decided to make clear that all wild animals, whether born or bred in captivity or in the wild, are eliminated from coverage as service animals. The Department believes that this approach reduces risks to health or safety attendant with wild animals. Some animals, such as certain nonhuman primates, including certain monkeys, pose a direct threat; their behavior can be unpredictably aggressive and violent without notice or provocation. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) issued a position statement advising against the use of monkeys as service animals, stating that ``[t]he AVMA does not support the use of nonhuman primates as assistance animals because of animal welfare concerns, and the potential for serious injury and zoonotic [animal to human disease transmission] risks.'' AVMA Position Statement, Nonhuman Primates as Assistance Animals (2005), available at (last visited June 24, 2010). An organization that trains capuchin monkeys to provide in-home services to individuals with paraplegia and quadriplegia was in substantial agreement with the AVMA's views but requested a limited recognition in the service animal definition for the capuchin monkeys it trains to provide assistance for persons with disabilities. The organization commented that its trained capuchin monkeys undergo scrupulous veterinary examinations to ensure that the animals pose no health risks, and are used by individuals with disabilities exclusively in their homes. The organization acknowledged [[Page 56268]] that the capuchin monkeys it trains are not necessarily suitable for use in a place of public accommodation but noted that the monkeys may need to be used in circumstances that implicate title III coverage, e.g., in the event the handler had to leave home due to an emergency, to visit a veterinarian, or for the initial delivery of the monkey to the individual with a disability. The organization noted that several State and local government entities have local zoning, licensing, health, and safety laws that prohibit non-human primates, and that these prohibitions would prevent individuals with disabilities from using these animals even in their homes. The organization argued that including capuchin monkeys under the service animal umbrella would make it easier for individuals with disabilities to obtain reasonable modifications of State and local licensing, health, and safety laws that would permit the use of these monkeys. The organization argued that this limited modification to the service animal definition was warranted in view of the services these monkeys perform, which enable many individuals with paraplegia and quadriplegia to live and function with increased independence. The Department has carefully considered the potential risks associated with the use of nonhuman primates as service animals in places of public accommodation, as well as the information provided to the Department about the significant benefits that trained capuchin monkeys provide to certain individuals with disabilities in residential settings. The Department has determined, however, that nonhuman primates, including capuchin monkeys, will not be recognized as service animals for purposes of this rule because of their potential for disease transmission and unpredictable aggressive behavior. The Department believes that these characteristics make nonhuman primates unsuitable for use as service animals in the context of the wide variety of public settings subject to this rule. As the organization advocating the inclusion of capuchin monkeys acknowledges, capuchin monkeys are not suitable for use in public facilities. The Department emphasizes that it has decided only that capuchin monkeys will not be included in the definition of service animals for purposes of its regulation implementing the ADA. This decision does not have any effect on the extent to which public accommodations are required to allow the use of such monkeys under other Federal statutes, like the FHAct or the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). For example, a public accommodation that also is considered to be a ``dwelling'' may be covered under both the ADA and the FHAct. While the ADA does not require such a public accommodation to admit people with service monkeys, the FHAct may. Under the FHAct an individual with a disability may have the right to have an animal other than a dog in his or her home if the animal qualifies as a ``reasonable accommodation'' that is necessary to afford the individual equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling, assuming that the use of the animal does not pose a direct threat. In some cases, the right of an individual to have an animal under the FHAct may conflict with State or local laws that prohibit all individuals, with or without disabilities, from owning a particular species. However, in this circumstance, an individual who wishes to request a reasonable modification of the State or local law must do so under the FHAct, not the ADA. Having considered all of the comments about which species should qualify as service animals under the ADA, the Department has determined the most reasonable approach is to limit acceptable species to dogs. Size or weight limitations. The vast majority of commenters did not support a size or weight limitation. Commenters were typically opposed to a size or weight limit because many tasks performed by service animals require large, strong dogs. For instance, service animals may perform tasks such as providing balance and support or pulling a wheelchair. Small animals may not be suitable for large adults. The weight of the service animal user is often correlated with the size and weight of the service animal. Others were concerned that adding a size and weight limit would further complicate the difficult process of finding an appropriate service animal. One commenter noted that there is no need for a limit because ``if, as a practical matter, the size or weight of an individual's service animal creates a direct threat or fundamental alteration to a particular public entity or accommodation, there are provisions that allow for the animal's exclusion or removal.'' Some common concerns among commenters in support of a size and weight limit were that a larger animal may be less able to fit in various areas with its handler, such as toilet rooms and public seating areas, and that larger animals are more difficult to control. Balancing concerns expressed in favor of and against size and weight limitations, the Department has determined that such limitations would not be appropriate. Many individuals of larger stature require larger dogs. The Department believes it would be inappropriate to deprive these individuals of the option of using a service dog of the size required to provide the physical support and stability these individuals may need to function independently. Since large dogs have always served as service animals, continuing their use should not constitute fundamental alterations or impose undue burdens on public accommodations. Breed limitations. A few commenters suggested that certain breeds of dogs should not be allowed to be used as service animals. Some suggested that the Department should defer to local laws restricting the breeds of dogs that individuals who reside in a community may own. Other commenters opposed breed restrictions, stating that the breed of a dog does not determine its propensity for aggression and that aggressive and non-aggressive dogs exist in all breeds. The Department does not believe that it is either appropriate or consistent with the ADA to defer to local laws that prohibit certain breeds of dogs based on local concerns that these breeds may have a history of unprovoked aggression or attacks. Such deference would have the effect of limiting the rights of persons with disabilities under the ADA who use certain service animals based on where they live rather than on whether the use of a particular animal poses a direct threat to the health and safety of others. Breed restrictions differ significantly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions have no breed restrictions. Others have restrictions that, while well-meaning, have the unintended effect of screening out the very breeds of dogs that have successfully served as service animals for decades without a history of the type of unprovoked aggression or attacks that would pose a direct threat, e.g., German Shepherds. Other jurisdictions prohibit animals over a certain weight, thereby restricting breeds without invoking an express breed ban. In addition, deference to breed restrictions contained in local laws would have the unacceptable consequence of restricting travel by an individual with a disability who uses a breed that is acceptable and poses no safety hazards in the individual's home jurisdiction but is nonetheless banned by other jurisdictions. Public accommodations have the ability to determine, on a case-by- case basis, whether a particular service animal can be excluded based on that particular animal's actual behavior or history--not based on fears or generalizations about how an animal or breed might behave. This ability to exclude an animal whose behavior or history evidences a direct threat is sufficient to protect health and safety. Recognition of psychiatric service animals, but not ``emotional support animals.'' The definition of ``service animal'' in the NPRM stated the Department's longstanding position that emotional support animals are not included in the definition of ``service animal.'' The proposed text provided that ``[a]nimals whose sole function is to provide emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, or to promote emotional well-being are not service animals.'' 73 FR 34508, 34553 (June 17, 2008). Many advocacy organizations expressed concern and disagreed with the exclusion of comfort and emotional support animals. Others have been more specific, stating that individuals with disabilities may need their emotional support animals in order to have equal access. Some commenters noted that individuals with disabilities use animals that have not been trained to perform tasks directly related to their disability. These animals do not qualify as service animals under the ADA. These are emotional support or comfort animals. Commenters asserted that excluding categories such as ``comfort'' and ``emotional support'' animals recognized by laws such as the FHAct or the ACAA is confusing and burdensome. Other commenters noted that emotional support and comfort animals perform an important function, asserting that animal companionship helps individuals who experience depression resulting from multiple sclerosis. Some commenters explained the benefits emotional support animals provide, including emotional support, comfort, therapy, companionship, therapeutic benefits, and the promotion of emotional [[Page 56269]] well-being. They contended that without the presence of an emotional support animal in their lives they would be disadvantaged and unable to participate in society. These commenters were concerned that excluding this category of animals will lead to discrimination against and excessive questioning of individuals with non-visible or non-apparent disabilities. Other commenters expressing opposition to the exclusion of individually trained ``comfort'' or ``emotional support'' animals asserted that the ability to soothe or de-escalate and control emotion is ``work'' that benefits the individual with the disability. Many commenters requested that the Department carve out an exception that permits current or former members of the military to use emotional support animals. They asserted that a significant number of service members returning from active combat duty have adjustment difficulties due to combat, sexual assault, or other traumatic experiences while on active duty. Commenters noted that some current or former members of the military service have been prescribed animals for conditions such as PTSD. One commenter stated that service women who were sexually assaulted while in the military use emotional support animals to help them feel safe enough to step outside their homes. The Department recognizes that many current and former members of the military have disabilities as a result of service-related injuries that may require emotional support and that such individuals can benefit from the use of an emotional support animal and could use such animal in their home under the FHAct. However, having carefully weighed the issues, the Department believes that its final rule appropriately addresses the balance of issues and concerns of both the individual with a disability and the public accommodation. The Department also notes that nothing in this part prohibits a public entity from allowing current or former military members or anyone else with disabilities to utilize emotional support animals if it wants to do so. Commenters asserted the view that if an animal's ``mere presence'' legitimately provides such benefits to an individual with a disability and if those benefits are necessary to provide equal opportunity given the facts of the particular disability, then such an animal should qualify as a ``service animal.'' Commenters noted that the focus should be on the nature of a person's disability, the difficulties the disability may impose and whether the requested accommodation would legitimately address those difficulties, not on evaluating the animal involved. The Department understands this approach has benefitted many individuals under the FHAct and analogous State law provisions, where the presence of animals poses fewer health and safety issues and where emotional support animals provide assistance that is unique to residential settings. The Department believes, however, that the presence of such animals is not required in the context of public accommodations, such as restaurants, hospitals, hotels, retail establishments, and assembly areas. Under the Department's previous regulatory framework, some individuals and entities assumed that the requirement that service animals must be individually trained to do work or perform tasks excluded all individuals with mental disabilities from having service animals. Others assumed that any person with a psychiatric condition whose pet provided comfort to them was covered by the 1991 title III regulation. The Department reiterates that psychiatric service animals that are trained to do work or perform a task for individuals whose disability is covered by the ADA are protected by the Department's present regulatory approach. Psychiatric service animals can be trained to perform a variety of tasks that assist individuals with disabilities to detect the onset of psychiatric episodes and ameliorate their effects. Tasks performed by psychiatric service animals may include reminding the handler to take medicine, providing safety checks or room searches for persons with PTSD, interrupting self-mutilation, and removing disoriented individuals from dangerous situations. The difference between an emotional support animal and a psychiatric service animal is the work or tasks that the animal performs. Traditionally, service dogs worked as guides for individuals who were blind or had low vision. Since the original regulation was promulgated, service animals have been trained to assist individuals with many different types of disabilities. In the final rule, the Department has retained its position on the exclusion of emotional support animals from the definition of ``service animal.'' The definition states that ``[t]he provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship * * * do[es] not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.'' The Department notes, however, that the exclusion of emotional support animals from coverage in the final rule does not mean that individuals with psychiatric or mental disabilities cannot use service animals that meet the regulatory definition. The final rule defines service animal as follows: ``Service animal means any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.'' This language simply clarifies the Department's longstanding position. The Department's position is based on the fact that the title II and title III regulations govern a wider range of public settings than the housing and transportation settings for which the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the DOT regulations allow emotional support animals or comfort animals. The Department recognizes that there are situations not governed by the title II and title III regulations, particularly in the context of residential settings and transportation, where there may be a legal obligation to permit the use of animals that do not qualify as service animals under the ADA, but whose presence nonetheless provides necessary emotional support to persons with disabilities. Accordingly, other Federal agency regulations, case law, and possibly State or local laws governing those situations may provide appropriately for increased access for animals other than service animals as defined under the ADA. Public officials, housing providers, and others who make decisions relating to animals in residential and transportation settings should consult the Federal, State, and local laws that apply in those areas (e.g., the FHAct regulations of HUD and the ACAA) and not rely on the ADA as a basis for reducing those obligations. Retain term ``service animal.'' Some commenters asserted that the term ``assistance animal'' is a term of art and should replace the term ``service animal''; however, the majority of commenters preferred the term ``service animal'' because it is more specific. The Department has decided to retain the term ``service animal'' in the final rule. While some agencies, like HUD, use the terms ``assistance animal,'' ``assistive animal,'' or ``support animal,'' these terms are used to denote a broader category of animals than is covered by the ADA. The Department has decided that changing the term used in the final rule would create confusion, particularly in view of the broader parameters for coverage under the FHAct, cf. Preamble to HUD's Final Rule for Pet Ownership for the Elderly and Persons with Disabilities, 73 FR 63834-38 (Oct. 27, 2008); HUD Handbook No. 4350.3 Rev-1, Chapter 2, Occupancy Requirements of Subsidized Multifamily Housing Programs (June 2007), available at (last visited June 24, 2010). Moreover, as discussed above, the Department's definition of ``service animal'' in the final rule does not affect the rights of individuals with disabilities who use assistance animals in their homes under the FHAct or who use ``emotional support animals'' that are covered under the ACAA and its implementing regulations. See 14 CFR 382.7 et seq.; see also Department of Transportation, Guidance Concerning Service Animals in Air Transportation, 68 FR 24874, 24877 (May 9, 2003) (discussing accommodation of service animals and emotional support animals on aircraft). xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Subpart C--Specific Requirements Section 36.302 Modifications in Policies, Practices, or Procedures Section 36.302(c) Service Animals Section 36.302(c)(1) of the 1991 title III regulation states that ``[g]enerally, a public accommodation shall modify [its] policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of service animals by an individual with a disability.'' Section 36.302(c)(2) of the 1991 title III regulation states that ``[n]othing in this part requires a public accommodation to supervise or care for a service animal.'' The Department has decided to retain the scope of the 1991 title III regulation while clarifying the Department's longstanding policies and interpretations. Toward that end, the final rule has been revised to include the Department's policy interpretations as outlined in published technical assistance, Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business (1996), available at, and ADA Guide for Small Businesses (1999), available at, and to add that a public accommodation may exclude a service animal in certain circumstances where the service animal fails to meet certain behavioral standards. The Department received extensive comments in response to proposed Sec. 36.302(c) from individuals, disability advocacy groups, organizations involved in training service animals, and public accommodations. Those comments and the Department's response are discussed below. Exclusion of service animals. The 1991 regulatory provision in Sec. 36.302(c) addresses reasonable modification and remains unchanged in the final rule. However, based [[Page 56271]] on comments received and the Department's analysis, the Department has decided to clarify those circumstances where otherwise eligible service animals may be excluded by public accommodations. In the NPRM, in Sec. 36.302(c)(2)(i), the Department proposed that a public accommodation may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the place of public accommodation if ``[t]he animal is out of control and the animal's handler does not take effective action to control it.'' 73 FR 34508, 34553 (June 17, 2008). The Department has long held that a service animal must be under the control of the handler at all times. Commenters overwhelmingly were in favor of this language, but noted that there are occasions when service animals are provoked to disruptive or aggressive behavior by agitators or troublemakers, as in the case of a blind individual whose service dog is taunted or pinched. While all service animals are trained to ignore and overcome these types of incidents, misbehavior in response to provocation is not always unreasonable. In circumstances where a service animal misbehaves or responds reasonably to a provocation or injury, the public accommodation must give the handler a reasonable opportunity to gain control of the animal. Further, if the individual with a disability asserts that the animal was provoked or injured, or if the public accommodation otherwise has reason to suspect that provocation or injury has occurred, the public accommodation should seek to determine the facts and, if provocation or injury occurred, the public accommodation should take effective steps to prevent further provocation or injury, which may include asking the provocateur to leave the place of public accommodation. This language is unchanged in the final rule. The NPRM also proposed language at Sec. 36.302(c)(2)(ii) to permit a public accommodation to exclude a service animal if the animal is not housebroken (i.e., trained so that, absent illness or accident, the animal controls its waste elimination) or the animal's presence or behavior fundamentally alters the nature of the service the public accommodation provides (e.g., repeated barking during a live performance). Several commenters were supportive of this NPRM language, but cautioned against overreaction by the public accommodation in these instances. One commenter noted that animals get sick, too, and that accidents occasionally happen. In these circumstances, simple clean up typically addresses the incident. Commenters noted that the public accommodation must be careful when it excludes a service animal on the basis of ``fundamental alteration,'' asserting for example, that a public accommodation should not exclude a service animal for barking in an environment where other types of noise, such as loud cheering or a child crying, is tolerated. The Department maintains that the appropriateness of an exclusion can be assessed by reviewing how a public accommodation addresses comparable situations that do not involve a service animal. The Department has retained in Sec. 36.302(c)(2) of the final rule the exception requiring animals to be housebroken. The Department has not retained the specific NPRM language stating that animals can be excluded if their presence or behavior fundamentally alters the nature of the service provided by the public accommodation, because the Department believes that this exception is covered by the general reasonable modification requirement contained in Sec. 36.302(c)(1). The NPRM also proposed in Sec. 36.302(c)(2)(iii) that a service animal can be excluded where ``[t]he animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others that cannot be eliminated by reasonable modifications.'' 73 FR 34508, 34553 (June 17, 2008). Commenters were universally supportive of this provision as it makes express the discretion of a public accommodation to exclude a service animal that poses a direct threat. Several commenters cautioned against the overuse of this provision and suggested that the Department provide an example of the rule's application. The Department has decided not to include regulatory language specifically stating that a service animal can be excluded if it poses a direct threat. The Department believes that the direct threat provision in Sec. 36.208 already provides this exception to public accommodations. Access to a public accommodation following the proper exclusion of a service animal. The NPRM proposed that in the event a public accommodation properly excludes a service animal, the public accommodation must give the individual with a disability the opportunity to obtain the goods and services of the public accommodation without having the service animal on the premises. Most commenters welcomed this provision as a common sense approach. These commenters noted that they do not wish to preclude individuals with disabilities from the full and equal enjoyment of the goods and services simply because of an isolated problem with a service animal. The Department has elected to retain this provision in Sec. 36.302(c)(2). Other requirements. The NPRM also proposed that the regulation include the following requirements: that the work or tasks performed by the service animal must be directly related to the handler's disability; that a service animal must be individually trained to do work or perform a task, be housebroken, and be under the control of the handler; and that a service animal must have a harness, leash, or other tether. Most commenters addressed at least one of these issues in their responses. Most agreed that these provisions are important to clarify further the 1991 service animal regulation. The Department has moved the requirement that the work or tasks performed by the service animal must be related directly to the handler's disability to the definition of ``service animal'' in Sec. 36.104. In addition, the Department has modified the proposed language relating to the handler's control of the animal with a harness, leash, or other tether to state that ``[a] service animal shall have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless either the handler is unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal's safe, effective performance of work or tasks, in which case the service animal must be otherwise under the handler's control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means).'' The Department has retained the requirement that the service animal must be individually trained, as well as the requirement that the service animal be housebroken. Responsibility for supervision and care of a service animal. The 1991 title III regulation, in Sec. 36.302(c)(2), states that ``[n]othing in this part requires a public accommodation to supervise or care for a service animal.'' The NPRM modified this language to state that ``[a] public accommodation is not responsible for caring for or supervising a service animal.'' 73 FR 34508, 34553 (June 17, 2008). Most commenters did not address this particular provision. The Department notes that there are occasions when a person with a disability is confined to bed in a hospital for a period of time. In such an instance, the individual may not be able to walk or feed the service animal. In such cases, if the individual has a family member, friend, or other person willing to take on these responsibilities in the place of the individual with a disability, the individual's obligation to be responsible for the care and supervision of the service animal would be satisfied. The language of this section is retained, with minor modifications, in Sec. 36.302(c)(5) of the final rule. Inquiries about service animals. The NPRM proposed language at Sec. 36.302(c)(6) setting forth parameters about how a public accommodation may determine whether an animal qualifies as a service animal. The proposed section stated that a public accommodation may ask if the animal is required because of a disability and what task or work the animal has been trained to do but may not require proof of service animal certification or licensing. Such inquiries are limited to eliciting the information necessary to make a decision without requiring disclosure of confidential disability-related information that a public accommodation does not need. This language is consistent with the policy guidance outlined in two Department publications, Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business (1996), available at, and ADA Guide for Small Businesses (1999), available at Although some commenters contended that the NPRM service animal provisions leave unaddressed the issue of how a public accommodation can distinguish between a psychiatric service animal, which is covered under the final rule, and a comfort animal, which is not, other commenters noted that the Department's published guidance has helped public accommodations to distinguish between service animals and pets on the basis of an individual's response to these questions. Accordingly, the Department has retained the NPRM language incorporating its guidance concerning the permissible questions into the final rule. Some commenters suggested that a title III entity be allowed to require current [[Page 56272]] documentation, no more than one year old, on letterhead from a mental health professional stating the following: (1) That the individual seeking to use the animal has a mental health-related disability; (2) that having the animal accompany the individual is necessary to the individual's mental health or treatment or to assist the person otherwise; and (3) that the person providing the assessment of the individual is a licensed mental health professional and the individual seeking to use the animal is under that individual's professional care. These commenters asserted that this will prevent abuse and ensure that individuals with legitimate needs for psychiatric service animals may use them. The Department believes that this proposal would treat persons with psychiatric, intellectual, and other mental disabilities less favorably than persons with physical or sensory disabilities. The proposal would also require persons with disabilities to obtain medical documentation and carry it with them any time they seek to engage in ordinary activities of daily life in their communities--something individuals without disabilities have not been required to do. Accordingly, the Department has concluded that a documentation requirement of this kind would be unnecessary, burdensome, and contrary to the spirit, intent, and mandates of the ADA. Service animal access to areas of a public accommodation. The NPRM proposed at Sec. 36.302(c)(7) that an individual with a disability who uses a service animal has the same right of access to areas of a public accommodation as members of the public, program participants, and invitees. Commenters indicated that allowing individuals with disabilities to go with their service animals into the same areas as members of the public, program participants, clients, customers, patrons, or invitees is accepted practice by most places of public accommodation. The Department has included a slightly modified version of this provision in Sec. 36.302(c)(7) of the final rule. The Department notes that under the final rule, a healthcare facility must also permit a person with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal in all areas of the facility in which that person would otherwise be allowed. There are some exceptions, however. The Department follows the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the use of service animals in a hospital setting. Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted to humans through bites, scratches, direct contact, arthropod vectors, or aerosols. Consistent with CDC guidance, it is generally appropriate to exclude a service animal from limited-access areas that employ general infection-control measures, such as operating rooms and burn units. See Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities: Recommendations of CDC and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (June 2003), available at (last visited June 24, 2010). A service animal may accompany its handler to such areas as admissions and discharge offices, the emergency room, inpatient and outpatient rooms, examining and diagnostic rooms, clinics, rehabilitation therapy areas, the cafeteria and vending areas, the pharmacy, restrooms, and all other areas of the facility where healthcare personnel, patients, and visitors are permitted without taking added precautions. Prohibition against surcharges for use of a service animal. In the NPRM, the Department proposed to incorporate the previously mentioned policy guidance, which prohibits the assessment of a surcharge for the use of a service animal, into proposed Sec. 36.302(c)(8). Several commenters agreed that this provision makes clear the obligation of a place of public accommodation to admit an individual with a service animal without surcharges, and that any additional costs imposed should be factored into the overall cost of doing business and passed on as a charge to all participants, rather than an individualized surcharge to the service animal user. Commenters also noted that service animal users cannot be required to comply with other requirements that are not generally applicable to other persons. If a public accommodation normally charges individuals for the damage they cause, an individual with a disability may be charged for damage caused by his or her service animals. The Department has retained this language, with minor modifications, in the final rule at Sec. 36.302(c)(8). Training requirement. Certain commenters recommended the adoption of formal training requirements for service animals. The Department has rejected this approach and will not impose any type of formal training requirements or certification process, but will continue to require that service animals be individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. While some groups have urged the Department to modify this position, the Department has determined that such a modification would not serve the full array of individuals with disabilities who use service animals, since individuals with disabilities may be capable of training, and some have trained, their service animal to perform tasks or do work to accommodate their disability. A training and certification requirement would increase the expense of acquiring a service animal and might limit access to service animals for individuals with limited financial resources. Some commenters proposed specific behavior or training standards for service animals, arguing that without such standards, the public has no way to differentiate between untrained pets and service animals. Many of the suggested behavior or training standards were lengthy and detailed. The Department believes that this rule addresses service animal behavior sufficiently by including provisions that address the obligations of the service animal user and the circumstances under which a service animal may be excluded, such as the requirements that an animal be housebroken and under the control of its handler. Miniature horses. The Department has been persuaded by commenters and the available research to include a provision that would require public accommodations to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by a person with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability. The traditional service animal is a dog, which has a long history of guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, and over time dogs have been trained to perform an even wider variety of services for individuals with all types of disabilities. However, an organization that developed a program to train miniature horses, modeled on the program used for guide dogs, began training miniature horses in 1991. Although commenters generally supported the species limitations proposed in the NPRM, some were opposed to the exclusion of miniature horses from the definition of a service animal. These commenters noted that these animals have been providing assistance to persons with disabilities for many years. Miniature horses were suggested by some commenters as viable alternatives to dogs for individuals with allergies, or for those whose religious beliefs preclude the use of dogs. Another consideration mentioned in favor of the use of miniature horses is the longer life span and strength of miniature horses in comparison to dogs. Specifically, miniature horses can provide service for more than 25 years while dogs can provide service for approximately seven years, and, because of their strength, miniature horses can provide services that dogs cannot provide. Accordingly, use of miniature horses reduces the cost involved to retire, replace, and train replacement service animals. The miniature horse is not one specific breed, but may be one of several breeds, with distinct characteristics that produce animals suited to service animal work. These animals generally range in height from 24 inches to 34 inches measured to the withers, or shoulders, and generally weigh between 70 and 100 pounds. These characteristics are similar to those of large breed dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, and Mastiffs. Similar to dogs, miniature horses can be trained through behavioral reinforcement to be ``housebroken.'' Most miniature service horse handlers and organizations recommend that when the animals are not doing work or performing tasks, the miniature horses should be kept outside in a designated area instead of indoors in a house. According to information provided by an organization that trains service horses, these miniature horses are trained to provide a wide array of services to their handlers, primarily guiding individuals who are blind or have low vision, pulling wheelchairs, providing stability and balance for individuals with disabilities that impair the ability to walk, and supplying leverage that enables a person with a mobility disability to get up after a fall. According to the commenter, miniature horses are particularly effective for large stature individuals. The animal can be trained to stand (and in some cases, lie down) at the handler's feet in venues where space is at a premium, such as assembly areas or inside some vehicles that [[Page 56273]] provide public transportation. Some individuals with disabilities have traveled by train and have flown commercially with their miniature horses. The miniature horse is not included in the definition of service animal, which is limited to dogs. However, the Department has added a specific provision at Sec. 36.302(c)(9) of the final rule covering miniature horses. Under this provision, public accommodations must make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability. The public accommodation may take into account a series of assessment factors in determining whether to allow a miniature horse into a specific facility. These include the type, size, and weight of the miniature horse, whether the handler has sufficient control of the miniature horse, whether the miniature horse is housebroken, and whether the miniature horse's presence in a specific facility compromises legitimate safety requirements that are necessary for safe operation. In addition, paragraphs (c)(3)B-(8) of this section, which are applicable to dogs, also apply to miniature horses. Ponies and full-size horses are not covered by Sec. 36.302(c)(9). Also, because miniature horses can vary in size and can be larger and less flexible than dogs, covered entities may exclude this type of service animal if the presence of the miniature horse, because of its larger size and lower level of flexibility, results in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the services provided. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Dated: July 23, 2010. Eric H. Holder, Jr., Attorney General. [FR Doc. 2010-21824 Filed 9-14-10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4410-13-P