Equip - Fall 2016 - 5


ISTOCK

The Americans with Disabilities Act is
a civil rights law passed by Congress
and signed by President Bush in 1990. It
seeks to prevent discrimination based on
physical or mental disability and open up
access to activities such as transportation
to all. It requires bus operators to equally
accommodate the one in five American
adults who live with a disability. The overthe-road bus regulations were phased in
over a 14-year period, beginning in 1998.

Operators sometimes chafe at the cost of
ADA compliance versus weak demand. Woelfel
estimates only 0.25 percent of Jefferson Lines'
passengers ask for accessibility. "If we did the
math, I'm certain we'd find that ADA compliance
is a net cost, based on current ridership demand
levels," he says.
Some operators resist adding ADA-compliant
equipment, says Van Horn: "The way the regulations are written, operators are obliged to provide
accessible service but do not necessarily have to
add lift-equipped vehicles to their fleet. Many,
especially smaller companies, haven't bought
accessible vehicles and then complain about the
cost of leasing one, especially if it has to come
from far away. For those who haven't purchased
a lift-equipped bus, leasing one when a request
comes can be a major problem, especially in less
populated areas." Operators need to plan way in

Accommodating Service Animals
Under the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA), bus
operators must offer access to
service animals defined under
the law as "any dog that has
been individually trained to
do work or perform tasks for
the benefit of a person with a
disability."
The work or tasks performed by a service animal
must directly relate to the
individual's disability, not
the passenger's protection
or comfort. No other species of animal-wild or
domestic, trained or untrained-is a service animal
under the ADA, says Marion Gwizdala, president
of the National Association of Guide Dog Users
(NAGDU).
Operators may ask if an animal is a service dog.
Appropriate questions are: Is this a service dog
required because of a disability? What tasks has
it been trained to perform? If a person can adequately answer these questions-known as "credible assurance"-then the person should be allowed
access with the dog. No special documentation, apparel, or gear is required as a condition of service.
"Passengers with a service animal may not be
denied access, treated unequally, or segregated
from others because they use a service dog," says
Gwizdala. "Individuals with disabilities have the
right to choose their own seat versus being forced
to sit in a special area."

Service animals must always
be kept on a leash or tether. The
passenger must keep the dog
under control. The dog should be
housebroken. Allergies, fear of
animals, and religious objections are
generally invalid reasons to exclude
an individual with a disability accompanied by a service dog.
"When talking to a person with
disabilities accompanied by a service
dog, never talk to it, pet it, make
noises to intentionally distract it,
or hold its leash or harness, and
definitely do not feed the dog," Gwizdala advises.
"Most travelers who use service dogs want to be
treated like everyone else and don't want to be singled out or have attention drawn to them because
of their disability or that they have a dog."
NAGDU conducts ADA training sessions pertaining to service dogs. Its toll-free hotline, (888)
624-3841, gives specific info about the rights and
responsibilities of service-dog users, and its free
iOS app explains the ADA vis-à-vis service dogs.
NAGDU also has free "Service Animals Welcome"
entry-door decals available to operators, who can
request theirs by emailing info@nagdu.org.
Free motorcoach-specific ADA training resources
are available by going to www.nadtc.org/resources
-publications/ada-training-program-for
-motorcoach-companies-self-study-guide and
www.nadtc.org/resources-publications
/motorcoach-operators-ada-pocket-guide.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 6

EQUIP MAGAZINE // Fall 2016

5


http://www.nadtc.org/resources-publications/ada-training-program-for-motorcoach-companies-self-study-guide/ http://www.nadtc.org/resources-publications/ada-training-program-for-motorcoach-companies-self-study-guide/ http://www.nadtc.org/resources-publications/motorcoach-operators-ada-pocket-guide http://www.lcteast.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Equip - Fall 2016

Inside
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