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Downtown restaurants under scrutiny over accommodations for disabled

Posted by: Randy Furst under Local business, Politics and government, Public safety, Urban living Updated: November 7, 2012 - 5:11 PM

Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones announced Wednesday that his office is sending a detailed questionnaire this week to 12 restaurants on or near Nicollet Mall to determine whether they are wheelchair accessible or otherwise complying with federal law requiring accommodations for people with disabilities.

Jeanne Cooney, a spokesperson for Jones, said the U.S. Attorney’s office periodically looks into different types of venues to see if they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She said the office works with the businesses to help them meet the ADA standards, but it also has the option to file a lawsuit. She said restaurants are expected to meet the ADA requirements that were in place at the type of the restaurant’s construction or latest renovation.

She said her office cannot investigate all restaurants in the state, so it picked a small group in the same area. Other restaurants may be added to the inquiry. She said the U.S. Attorney’s office has no advance information about whether restaurants on Nicollet Mall are complying with the law.

Among the questions the restaurants will be required to answer are:

Is there a telephone device for the deaf available at the host station so a restaurant can take reservations from people who are deaf or have a speech impairment?

Is the route through the main entrance and into the restaurant accessible to persons with disabilities?

If the restaurant has a bar or counter, is any portion of it lowered so as to be accessible to someone in a wheelchair?

Does the restaurant have written policies on how it will handle people with hearing disabilities or use a wheelchair? Does it have a written policy specific to persons with disabilities who use service animals?

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