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New York StateUnified Court System

Frequently Asked Questions

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Q. What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

A. The Americans with Disabilities Act gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.

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Q. Who is a person with a disability?

A. As defined by the ADA, a disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as walking, seeing, hearing, learning, breathing, caring for oneself, or working. The ADA also protects people who have a record of such an impairment or who are regarded as having an impairment, whether or not they actually have one, if being perceived as having one results in discrimination.

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Q. How do I request an accommodation?

A. Each court has a key person who has been designated to help facilitate disability accommodation requests. This "ADA liaison" will accept contacts made in person, in writing or over the telephone from individuals who need an ADA accommodation.

To ensure that the court will be able to make appropriate arrangements, requests should be made, whenever possible, well in advance of the court appearance date. Requests should be as specific as possible. In addition to the type of accommodation needed, please provide relevant information regarding the court appearance (i.e., court facility address, name of the case, name of the judge, part number, date of the appearance(s), and estimated length of the proceeding).

If you have a pending case before a judge or judicial officer and your request for ADA accommodation(s) will require a modification or otherwise affect the court's practices or procedures, the request should be made to the judge or judicial officer.

For more detailed information on how to request an accommodation, how a request is handled, services/aids courts can and cannot administratively grant as ADA accommodations, how to file a complaint and the grievance process, please click here.

Identify the correct liaison to assist you with our County Listing of Local ADA Liaisons

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Q. How will the accommodation request be handled?

A. The ADA liaison, or other appropriate court personnel, will notify you if the court is able to provide the requested accommodation, or requires further information. The ADA liaison may also, in consultation with the court's Chief Clerk and the OCA Director of Professional and Court Services, propose an alternative form of accommodation. If the court finds it necessary to deny the requested accommodation and an alternative cannot be mutually agreed upon, you will be provided with a written explanation for the denial. A final decision to deny an accommodation can only be made by an appropriate executive-level manager (in NYC, the Chief Clerk of the Court, or in Judicial Districts 3-10, the respective District Executive to the District Administrative Judge), or, if the request has been made directly to a judge during a proceeding, by the judge.

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Q. How will I know if my request has been denied?

A. UCS policy is to accommodate persons with disabilities to the fullest extent possible. If for some reason(s) a request is denied and a suitable alternative accommodation cannot be reached, an appropriate executive-level court manager or administrator will complete the Denial of Accommodation Form and present a copy to the person who has requested the accommodation.

The Denial of Accommodation Form is not used by judges or judicial officers who deny requests for accommodation- those denials are usually made in a written order or stated on the record during a proceeding. If the denial of an accommodation comes from a judge or judicial officer during a proceeding, it is a judicial determination and not an administrative one, and may be subject to judicial, rather than administrative, review.

For more information on the administrative denial of ADA accommodation requests and how to submit a request for administrative reconsideration, please click here
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Q. What can I do if my accommodation is denied?

A. A person who has been denied an accommodation may seek review of that decision. If the decision to deny an accommodation was made by a judge or judicial officer in a pending proceeding, review of that decision must be sought through the regular process of judicial review. If the decision to deny an accommodation was made administratively by a Chief Clerk or District Executive in consultation with the ADA Statewide Coordinator, that decision may be reviewed through the Request for Reconsideration process.

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Q. How do I file a general complaint about access to the courthouse and or to programs and services?

A. At times, a court user may not be seeking a reasonable accommodation for him/herself but might still wish to register a general complaint or express concern about some aspect of the accessibility of the courthouse or the services, programs and activities of the court. This may bring to light a problem that might otherwise go unnoticed but which needs to be addressed, and we welcome the chance to address it.

If such a complaint arises, it should be put in writing, either by the court user with the assistance of a court employee, and directed to either the District Executive (in courts outside NYC) or the Chief Clerk of the Court (in courts inside NYC), with a copy to the Statewide ADA Coordinator. Provide as much contact information as possible (name, address, email, and phone number) so that a response can be provided.

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Q. How do I file a complaint if I think that I have been discriminated against because of my disability?

A. If a court user believes that he or she has been subjected to disability discrimination by a court employee, the court user should contact the Office of the Managing Inspector General for Bias Matters at (877)-2EndBias, (646) 386-3507, or email:

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Q. How does the court system accommodate jurors?

A. Juror questionnaires ask whether an ADA accommodation will be needed. Once a prospective juror has identified him/herself as wanting an accommodation, the jury office reviews the request and provides such reasonable accommodation as will satisfy the need of the individual. In certain instances, the trial judge needs to make a ruling as to whether a particular juror, even if given an accommodation, is qualified to serve.

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Q. How does the court system assist people with disabilities who are self-represented?

A. In addition to the other ADA accommodations that are available to all court users, in appropriate situations court clerks may assist a disabled self-represented litigant by completing court forms if the litigant's disability limits his/her ability to do this task on his/her own. In providing the assistance, court clerks act solely as scribes, recording on the court forms the information provided by the self-represented litigant; court clerks cannot provide legal advice.

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Q. Can the court system provide an accommodation to a spectator of a court proceeding?

A. The court, when asked, must provide reasonable accommodations so people with disabilities, including spectators, may take part in our programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodation should be directed to the local ADA liaison and reviewed by the appropriate manager to ensure that an appropriate reasonable accommodation is provided to meet the need of the individual.

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Q. Can the court store medication if a juror, witness or litigant requests the accommodation?

A. Courts are permitted to keep medication and related supplies in an appropriate area for individuals who are using the courts and present verifiable medical documentation. A request should be directed to the appropriate court manager or security supervisor.

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Q. Are service animals allowed in the courthouse?

A. Service animals are permitted in all areas where members of the public participate in the services, programs, or activities of the court. As defined in the ADA, these animals are individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. Therefore, service animals are classified as working animals, not pets. Though a person with a disability is not required to provide any verbal or written confirmation to establish the existence or extent of his or her disability, they may be asked certain questions regarding their service animal. If not immediately evident, qualified individuals may be asked whether their animal is a service animal and, if so, what services it has been trained to provide. Service animals must be kept on a leash, harness, or tether (unless using one is not possible due to the handler's disability, or interferes with the service animal's performance) and be within the control of the individual with a disability at all times. For the security and safety of all court users, if at any time the animal becomes unruly or aggressive, the court may ask that the animal be removed from the facility.

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Q. Can the court system transport individuals with a disability who are coming to court or have them met at the curb?

A. The court's responsibility to court users begins at the door of the courthouse. If a municipal transport service for disabled individuals exists in a locale, however, the court may be able to provide the telephone number as a service.

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Q. Can the court system provide wheelchairs for individuals with disabilities? 

A. No. The court system does not provide personal medical equipment such as wheelchairs or canes, or personally prescribed items such as eyeglasses or hearing aids. The court system also does not provide services of a purely personal nature, such as a personal attendant to assist with eating, toileting or dressing.

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Q. Does the court system provide parking for people with disabilities?

A. Not all of our courthouses have public parking facilities and those that do are usually not operated by the court system. If you are visiting a facility that provides parking for the public, there should be some spaces reserved for people with disabilities. You should contact the local ADA liaison to find out what is available at the courthouse you will be visiting.

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Q. What is an Assistive Listening Device?

A. Assistive Listening Devices (ALD) are sensitive amplification instruments that are designed to be helpful in specific, but not all, listening situations. Each court facility in the state has at least one ALD available for use by the public. The local ADA liaison can help arrange for one to be provided.

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Q. Can teleconferencing be considered as an accommodation for a hearing or other court proceeding?

A. Decisions involving court proceedings must be at the discretion of the judge presiding over the case. On a case-by-case basis, and with approval of the judge, telephone conferencing has been used as a way to accommodate people who cannot leave their homes or who will have difficulty accessing the court building.

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Q. What is Realtime Reporting and how can it assist a person with a hearing impairment?

A. Computerized real-time court reporting is an information technology that may be considered a reasonable accommodation. Court reporters using this software provide increased access for those participants in the court system with hearing impairments. During a proceeding, the court reporter takes down verbatim what is being said and, by using this software, can instantly send the unedited transcript to a computer screen for individual viewing or onto a projection screen for viewing by a larger group.

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