What Is ADA Compliant Seating? How Do I Tell if I Am Booking an ADA Compliant Seat?

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When buying a ticket for an event, having a disability can make it difficult to make sure you are able to enjoy the show the same as everyone else. 

What Is ADA Compliant Seating How Do I Tell if I Am Booking an ADA Compliant Seat

Most venues have designated seating that is specifically for Americans with disabilities, and it’s accessible so that those who need a little extra help can get to their seats without issue. 

So, when you’re buying a ticket for an event what exactly makes the seating ADA compliant and how do you know if you’re buying an ADA compliant seat?

Here’s what you need to know. 

Why is ADA seating necessary?

With almost 1 in every 4 people across the country having some form of disability, accessibility is essential to ensure they are not discriminated against and they are able to enjoy all the same things as anyone else. 

Having ADA accessible seating ensures businesses and venues are held accountable to make sure those with disabilities can still access their facilities are able to enjoy their time there, without discomfort or being unable to experience it like others. 

Being in a wheelchair or having another physical disability doesn’t mean someone doesn’t want to see a concert or watch a show so having ADA accessible seating ensures those in a wheelchair will be able to get to an area where they can sit comfortably. 

For those people who are living with a disability, there are already so many obstacles to face and overcome every day. So making it a little easier for them to enjoy their favourite venue or check out a new show is one way to remove some of the obstacles they are regularly facing. 

There are many things that many people take for granted – like climbing stairs to get to a seat or even just being able to move into a traditional seat – so making restaurants, concert halls, sports areas and stadiums more accessible means everyone can enjoy the show, without any additional barriers or obstacles. 

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What is ADA compliant seating?

These seats are in an area that is designated for individuals with disabilities, and it helps accommodate them much better than the traditional seating available at most venues. 

It is most common for those who use a wheelchair or are otherwise physically handicapped. 

These seats will be in an area where it’s easy to see the main stage, without an obstructed view. Since those who are in a wheelchair cannot see over taller people or seats in their way, accessible seating is important to ensure everyone can enjoy the event.

Additionally, ADA compliant seating will usually be on the ground level so that anyone with a mobility issue does not have to go up stairs or use an elevator to get to their seats. 

The overall goal of ADA compliant seating is to ensure guests who need accessible seating get the same experience as guests who don’t need the accommodation.

It’s important to think about lines of sight and viewing angles when determining where exactly the accessible seating is going to be place in your venue. 

man on wheelchair with ticket

Who needs to have ADA seating?

Currently, any business that has 15 or more employees must be ADA compliant, or they could be risking being sued or having to pay very steep fines. 

Additionally, those businesses that sell tickets to events, or even just having seating for their customers, must have a certain percentage of their available seating be designated as ADA compliant seating. 

These spaces must be large enough to accommodate a full-sized wheelchair and usually have better viewing angles due to the person being in a wheelchair. 

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Can anyone purchase an ADA compliant seat?

These seats, in most venues, are reserved for those who have a genuine disability and would not be able to physically get to or be in a traditional seat. 

Most establishments reserve these seats for those with disabilities, and they do not release these seats to the general public for purchase. 

Those people who use a wheelchair, or other mobility aid, are able to purchase these seats at various venues. Additionally, those who have a service animal and may need some additional space while at the venue can book these seats. 

Companion seating with ADA/accessible seating

Many times those who require accessible seating will have a friend or family member accompanying them to various events, helping them with getting to and from the venue as well as helping with getting around while they’re there. 

For this reason, many venues offer what is known as companion seating. This is usually adjacent seating to the accessible area so that everyone can sit together. 

Groups where someone requires accessible seating cannot be separated, by law. Therefore many venues will offer up to three adjacent seats right beside the accessible area. If the seats directly next to the area are not available, most venues will offer the three closest seats. 

These seats must be purchased at the same time in order for them to be counted as companion seating. If you have questions about any specific events or venues, it’s best to contact the venue directly and make sure you can purchase companion seating to accompany your friend or loved one during the event. 

Where can you purchase ADA seating?

For some businesses, it doesn’t make sense to have designated ADA compliant seating because of the kind of business they run and they may not have a need for seating at their business. 

Business where it does make sense have accessible seating areas include movie theatres, sports activities, performing arts theatres, concert halls, arenas or stadiums.

man on wheelchair in an event

Are ADA compliant seats more expensive?

There are regulations in place that state ADA compliant seats, and accessible seating, cannot be more than regular ticket seating so that it is fair for everyone to attend the event. 

If a venue is charging more for accessible seating it is against the law and should be reported. Venues that do not follow these guidelines can be subject to fines or other charges. 

You might like to read: What Are the ADA Requirements for Doors?

How do you know if you’re booking an ADA compliant seat?

Most times, when booking an ADA compliant seat or accessible seating it will be marked with a wheelchair icon. This isn’t to say that only people who are in a wheelchair can use them, but rather this is accessible seating for anyone who needs it. 

If you are trying to buy tickets for an event or book a reservation and don’t see anything about accessible seating, it’s important to contact the venue. They will likely be able to direct you to the area that is designated for that. 

Some establishments may call it something different, or mark it in a different way than with a wheelchair icon. The venue can direct you as to which sections or seats are accessible for purchasing. 

How many seats need to be ADA compliant in a venue?

The guidelines for how many seats need to be accessible in an establishment will depend on the total number of seats available. 

This number will fall somewhere between one and five percent of the total number of seats available in the venue. 

In some cases, portable seats can be placed in the accessible seating area for traditional seating if those accessible seats are not needed at the time or for that specific event. 

Information available for accessible seating

When establishments are looking to have people purchase accessible seating, providing literature on their venue and maps as to how the accessible seating is laid out can be really helpful for those with accessibility needs to determine if they can access the venue. 

By following ADA guidelines, venues can avoid being fined some very steep fees for noncompliance but they can also ensure that their guests will enjoy their venue as much as possible and will be returning for future events. 

woman on wheelchair on coffee date

In summary 

Purchasing an ADA compliant seat can seem like a lot of extra work, but with today’s access to online seating charts and maps it can be much easier to determine where the accessible seating is. 

Additionally, friends and family members of those who need accessible seating can purchase companion seating adjacent to the accessible seats. This helps because the guest with accessibility needs will not be isolated from their friends and family, just in case they need help. Additionally, everyone can enjoy the event or activity together in that case. 

You might like to read: Is the Landlord or Tenant Responsible for ADA Compliance in Commercial Buildings?

Venues and establishments are required, by law, to have a certain percentage of seats available as accessible. This regulation will be based on how many total seats are available, and the size of the venue. 

Having a disability doesn’t mean that someone cannot enjoy the same shows and events that everyone else does. Purchasing accessible seating tickets gives those with a disability the same view and enjoyment as everyone else, in traditional seating. 

If you have questions about booking accessible seating or purchasing those seats, you can always contact the venue directly to ensure you are buying the right tickets. 

Enjoy any show you want, with the perfect view of the stage or event!