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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 of 1990 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. What is a disability under the ADA?

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 protects three classes of people with disabilities: those who have a disability; those who have a record of having a disability; and those who are regarded as having a disability, whether or not they actually have one, if their 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 with special needs for accommodation.

To insure 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).

For requests made in conjunction with jury service, please see the jury FAQ below.

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Q. How will the accommodation request be handled?


A. The liaison, or other appropriate court personnel, will notify you if the court is able to provide the requested accommodation, or requires further information. The liaison may also, in consultation with the Chief Clerk and the OCA Director of Court Operations, 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.

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

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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 ADA Denial Form and present a copy to the person who has requested the accommodation. This form is not used by judges who may deny requests for accommodation- those denials are usually made in a written order or stated on the record during a proceeding.

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Q. How does the court system accommodate jurors?

A. Juror questionnaires ask whether an 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 accommodations that are available to all court-users, court clerks do assist self-represented litigants by completing court forms if their disability limits their ability to do this task on their own. In providing the assistance, court clerks act solely as scribes, recording on the court forms the information provided by the self-represented litigant.

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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 and services. All 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 satisfy 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 exists in a locale, however, the court will provide the telephone number as a service.

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

A. The court system does not provide medical equipment or personal attendants for any court user.

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

A. Not all of our courthouses have 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.

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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 disability?

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 disabilities. 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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