Return to Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force homepage for more information, resources, background. Also, some ADA remediation costs may be covered in the TIF District in the Small Business Improvement Fund program. See SBIF page. Next visit the Disabilities-Accessible Sidewalk Cafes page.

Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force

Business Informational Packet

Produced and distributed by the Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force, November 2006
Print copies available from Lenora Austin of the Chamber or George Rumsey of HPKCC.


Fifth Ward, Alderman Leslie A. Hairston
Fourth Ward, Alderman Toni Preckwinkle
Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce
Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference
Hyde Park Older Women's League
South East Chicago Commission
University of Chicago Police Department

Email, Informational Website
5211 South Harper, Suite D, Chicago, IL 60615
Telephone contact: 773 363-4368

The Hyde Park Disabilities Task Force seeks to educate the residents and businesses of the Hyde Park-Kenwood community as to the needs, rights, and concerns of our disabled and senior populations. It further seeks to promote and encourage responsible neighborly behavior in regard to these issues.

Facts about Americans with Disability

The U.S. Census Bureau's 2002 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) found that there are 51.2 million people with disabilities in the United States. More than one in six people in this country are potential customers for businesses that are accessible to people with disabilities.

To put that number into perspective, the U.S. population's percentage of people with disabilities is 18.1 percent. That is larger than the percentage of Hispanics in the U.S. population (13.3%), the country's largest ethnic, racial, or cultural minority group.

Millions of people with disabilities regularly travel, shop, and eat out with family and friends. According to Census 2000, approximately 20.9 million families in this country have at least one member with a disability.

The 2000 Census reported that almost 42% of older adults (65+ years) have one or more disabilities. The Administration on Aging projects that by 2030 there will be more than 69 million people age 65 and older, making up approximately 20% of the total U.S. population.


Spending Power of Americans with Disabilities

An Open Doors Organization study estimated in 2003 that diners with disabilities would spend $35 billion in restaurants that year. The study found that more than 75% of people with disabilities eat out at restaurants at least once a week.

The New York Times reported that spending by travelers width disabilities exceeds $13 billion annually.

At age 50, adults are likely to experience age-related physical changes that may affect hearing, vision, cognition, and mobility. While they may not think of themselves as having disabilities, people in this age group often seek out businesses that accommodate those changes by offering better lighting, less ambient noise, and fewer stairs.


How Accessible is YOUR Business

Think about the accessible features or customer service practices your business currently has. How effective are they in welcoming customers who have disabilities? Here are a few features to consider:

Be sure to educate your staff!


It's the Law: Illinois White Cane Law

Illinois White Cane Law (775 ILCs 30/Ch. 23)
Sec. 1. This Act may be cited as the White Cane Law.

Illinois Law Protects the Rights of Handicapped Persons
Sec. 2. Its is the policy of this State to encourage and enable the blind, the visually handicapped and the otherwise physically disabled to participate fully in the social and economic life of the State and to engage in remunerative employment.

Disabled Persons Have Full Rights
Sec. 3. The blind, the visually handicapped, the hearing impaired, persons who are subject to epilepsy or other seizure disorders, and the otherwise physically disabled have the same rights as the abled bodied to the full and free use of the streets, highways, public facilities and other public places.

The blind, the visually handicapped, the hearing impaired, persons who are subject to epilepsy or other seizure disorders, and the otherwise physically disabled are entitled to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privilegesof all common carriers, airplanes, motor vehicles, railroad trains, motor buses, street cars, boats or modes of transportation, hotels, lodging places, places of public accommodation, amusement or resort and other places to which the general public is invited, subject only to the conditions and limitations established by law and applicable alike to all persons.

Every totally or partially blind, hearing impaired, person who is subject to epilepsy or other seizure disorders, or otherwise physically disabled person or a trainer of support dogs, guide dogs, seizure alert dogs, seizure response dogs, or hearing dogs shall have the right to be accompanied by a support dog or guide dog especially trained for the purpose, or a dog that is being trained to be a support dog, guide dog, seizure alert dog, seizure response dog, or hearing dog, in any of the places listed in this Section without being required to pay an extra charge for the guide, support, seizure alert, seizure response, or hearing dog; provided that he shall be liable for any damage done to the premises or facilities by such dog.

Failure to Comply Is a Misdemeanor
Sec. 4. Any person or persons, firm or corporation, or the agent of any person or persons, firm or corporation who denies or interferes with admittance to or enjoyment of the public facilities enumerated in Section 3 of this Act or otherwise interferes with the rights of a totally or partially blind or otherwise disabled person under Section 3 of this Act shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

Disabled Persons Shall Have Full Equal Employment Opportunities
Sec. 5. It is the policy of this State that the blind, the visually handicapped and the otherwise physically disabled shall be employed in the State Service, the service of the political subdivisions of the State, in the public schools and in all other employment supported in whole or in part by public funds on the same terms and conditions as the able bodied, unless it can be shown that the particular disability prevents the performance of the work involved.

Be Aware of Disabled Persons in OUR Community
Sec. 6. Each year, the Governor is authorized and requested to designate and take suitable public notice of White White Cane Safety Day and to issue a proclamation in which. . . he emphasizes the need of the citizens to be aware of the presence of disabled persons in the community and to keep safe and functional for the disabled the streets, highways, sidewalks, public buildings, public facilities, other public places, places of public accommodation, amusement and resort, and other places to which the public is invited, and to offer assistance to disabled persons upon appropriate occasions.

Failure to Follow the Law

The Department of Justice may file lawsuits in federal court to enforce the ADA, and courts may order compensatory damages and back pay to remedy discrimination if the Department prevails. Under title III, the Department of Justice may also obtain civil penalties up to $55,000 for the first violation and $110,000 for any subsequent violations.


ADA Business Brief:

Service Animals

Service animals are animals that are individually trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities such as guiding people who are blind, alerting people who are deaf, pulling wheelchairs, alerting and protecting a person who is having a seizure, or performing other special tasks. Service animals are working animals, not pets.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), businesses and organizations that serve the public must allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. This federal law applies to all businesses open to the public, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and shuttles, grocery and department stores, hospitals and medical offices, theaters, health clubs, parks, and zoos.


Common Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business

Q: What are the laws that apply to my business?
A: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), privately owned businesses that serve the public, such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and taxicabs, are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. The ADA requires these businesses to allow people with disabilities to bring their service animals onto business premises in whatever areas customers are generally allowed.

Q: What is a service animal?
A: The ADA defines a service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.

Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. "Seeing eye dogs" are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their daily activities:

Q: How can I tell if an animal is really a service animal and not just a pet?
A: Some, but not all, service animals wear special collars and harnesses. Some, but not all, are licensed or certified and have identification papers. If you are not certain that an animal is a service animal, you may ask the person who has the animal if it is a service animal required because of a disability. You may not insist on proof of state certification before permitting the service animal to accompany the person with a disability.

Q: What must I do when an individual with a service animal comes to my business?
A: The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers.

Q: I have always had a clearly posted "no pets" policy at my establishment. Do I still have to allow service animals in?
A: Yes. A service animal is not a pet. The ADA requires you to modify your "no pets" policy to allow the use of a service animal by a person with a disability.

Q: My county health department has told me that only a seeing eye or guide dog has to be admitted. If I follow those regulations, am I violating the ADA?
A: Yes, if you refuse to admit any other type of service animal on the basis of local health department regulations or other state or local laws. The ADA provides greater protection for individuals with disabilities and so it takes priority over the local or state laws or regulations.

Q: Can I charge a maintenance or cleaning fee for customers who bring service animals into my business?
No. Neither a deposit nor a surcharge may be imposed on an individual with a disability as a condition to allowing a service animal to accompany the individual with a disability, even if deposits are routinely required for pets.

Q: I operate a private taxicab and I don't want animals in my taxi; they smell, shed hair, and sometimes have "accidents." Am I violating the ADA if I refuse to pick up someone with a service animal?
A. Yes. Taxicab companies may not refuse to provide services to individuals with disabilities. Private taxicab companies are also prohibited from charging higher fares or fees for transporting individuals with disabilities and their service animals than they charge to other persons for the same or equivalent service.

Q: What if a service animal barks or growls at other people, or otherwise acts out of control?
A: You may exclude any animal, including a service animal, from your facility when that animal's behavior poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others. For example, any service animal that displays vicious behavior towards other guests or customers may be excluded. You may not make assumption, however, about how a particular animal is likely to behave based on your past experience with other animals. Each situation must be considered individually.

If you have further questions about service animals or other requirements of the ADA, you may call the U.S. Department of Justice's toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TDD).


Guidelines for Businesses Regarding Service Animals

Businesses must allow people with disabilities to enter with their service animal.


10 Commandments of Communicating with People with Disabilities

Adapted from United Cerebral Palsy Associations, Inc., by Irene M. Ward & Associates.

Speak directly rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter who may be present.
Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited hand use or an artificial limb can usually shake hands and offering the left hand is an acceptable greeting.
Always identify yourself and others who may be with you when meeting someone with a visual disability. When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking.
If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Listen or ask for instructions.
Treat adults as adults. Address people with disabilities by their first names only when extending that same familiarity to others. Never patronize people in wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder.
Do not lean against or hang on someone's wheelchair--people with disabilities treat their chairs as an extension of their bodies. Never distract a work animal from its job without the owner's permission.
Listen attentively when talking with people who have difficulty speaking and wait for them to finish. Ask short questions that require short answers. Never pretend to understand.
Place yourself at eye level when speaking with someone in a wheelchair or on crutches.
Tap a person with a hearing disability on the shoulder or wave your hand to get his or her attention. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly, and expressively to establish if the person can read your lips. Never shout.
Relax. Don't be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions such as "See you later" or "Did you hear about this?" that seem to relate to a person's disability.


Myth: There is nothing one person can do to help eliminate the barriers confronting people with disabilities.
Fact: Everyone can contribute to change.

You can help remove barriers by:

References and Resources

For more information about the ADA and business, visit the Department of Justice ADA Business connection at Or call the toll-free ADA Information Line: 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY).

For a free web course sponsored by the Department of Justice:

In Chicago, visit and

For more resources including on rehabilitation visit our Disabilities homepage.