1 Introduction

Individuals with disabilities have the same right of access to the courts as individuals without disabilities. It is our job as attorneys to identify barriers to access and to remove or mitigate them for our clients. The failure to provide an accommodation may be a violation of the law or may be a violation of due process. This chapter will explore the need for accommodations, the statutory frameworks that require them, common types of accommodations, and techniques for identifying, requesting, and obtaining the correct accommodations for a particular client’s disability.

Setting aside the legal requirement that courts provide accommodations, we have a moral and ethical obligation to ensure that clients receive the accommodations they need. Advocating for your client to receive a service or device needed to meaningfully participate in court proceedings acknowledges that client’s humanity as well as the right to be part of the proceeding. An individual who has a disability is not “less than” and should not be treated as such. We should push for inclusivity and equality across all facets of our legal practices.

While the ADA may require reasonable accommodations in a variety of contexts, this chapter focuses only on access to the courts. Other chapters of this manual discuss how the ADA is applied in employment, housing, and education.1  The focus of this chapter is representation of clients with disabilities, ensuring their meaningful participation in litigation, the process for requesting reasonable accommodations, and the more commonly encountered accommodations.

  • 1On housing, see Section 13.5.2 of this manual's chapter on Landlord-Tenant Law. On employment, see Section 7.2 of the chapter on Employment Law. On education, see Section 2 of the chapter on the Law of Special Education and School Discipline.

Disclaimer: The articles in the Gillis Long Desk Manual do not contain any legal advice.