How do ADA Title II and Title III Differ?

How do ADA Title II and Title III Differ?

Both Title II and III approach architectural barrier removal differently to protect individuals with disabilities.

Title II and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act have much in common. Both address provisions for equal access in the built environment. They require that new facilities and altered spaces comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Together, ADA Title II and Title III cover enterprises in the public and private sectors. But their fundamental approaches to accessibility compliance differ regarding removal of architectural barriers.

ADA Title II

Title II of the ADA applies to programs, services, and activities offered by state and local government entities.

Examples of Title II entities include: State agencies, municipalities, counties, park districts, and public colleges and universities.

Title II emphasizes access to programs and services. State and local governments and agencies need not alter every existing facility as long as their overall programs are accessible. They may achieve this by modifying facilities to remove barriers or by relocating programs to existing accessible spaces. 


Title III of the ADA applies to places of public accommodation. A place of public accommodation means a facility, operated by a private entity, whose operations affect commerce.

Under Title III, a place of accommodation falls within 12 categories:

  1. Places of lodging (hotel, motel, inn, etc.) 
  2. Food and drink establishments (restaurant, bar, etc.)
  3. Places of exhibition or entertainment (movie/live theater, concert hall, stadium, etc.) 
  4. Places of public gathering (auditorium, convention center, lecture hall, etc.) 
  5. Sales or rental establishments (grocery store, clothing store, shopping center, bakery, etc.) 
  6. Service establishments (laundromat, bank, barber/beauty shop, funeral parlor, pharmacy, healthcare provider, hospital, lawyer/insurance/accountant office, etc.) 
  7. Public transportation terminals (depots or stations) 
  8. Places of public display or collection (museum, library, gallery, etc.) 
  9. Places of recreation (park, zoo, amusement park, etc.) 
  10. Places of education (nursery, elementary, secondary, undergraduate, or postgraduate private school, etc.) 
  11. Social service center establishments (day care center, senior citizen center, homeless shelter, adoption agency, food bank, etc.) 
  12. Places of exercise or recreation (gymnasium, health spa, golf course, etc.) 

Title III entities must remove architectural and communication barriers in existing facilities when it is readily achievable to do so. Readily achievable barrier removal should be able to be accomplished without much difficulty or expense. Barrier removal may be phased and ongoing until the public areas are accessible.

When There is Overlap

Some types of public accommodation facilities may be operated by a government or private entity. Whether Title II or Title III requirements apply depends not on the type of facility, but who is operating it. For example, a privately owned stadium on a public university campus would be subject to Title II requirements. A privately owned stadium on a private university campus would have to comply with Title III requirements.

An accessibility specialist can assist an entity with the development of a custom ADA compliant barrier removal plan that meets the entity’s timeline and budget.

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