General FAQ's - Frequently Asked Questions

back to top

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.

back to top

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.

back to top

Q. How do I request an accommodation?

A. Whenever possible, requests should be made at least a few days before you come to court. Requests can be made in writing (by letter or e-mail) or by telephone.

For trial courts in New York City, requests should be made to the Chief Clerk of the court. To find the mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number for the appropriate Chief Clerk, please visit our Local ADA Information by Courthouse page, and select the county in which you are interested.  

For trial courts outside New York City, requests should be made to the District Executive of the judicial district in which the court is located.  To find the mailing address, e-mail address and phone number for the appropriate District Executive, please visit our Local ADA Information by Courthouse page, and select the county in which you are interested.  

Requests should be a specific as possible.  Please provide:
•    your name
•    a brief description of your disability 
•    the accommodation(s) you want
•    name of the case (and number, if known)
•    name of the judge (if known)
•    date(s) you will be in court
•    your contact information, including mailing address, e-mail address, and phone
     number

If you make your request by e-mail, please put “ADA Accommodation Request” in the subject line.  If you make your request by letter, please write “ADA Accommodation Request” at the top.

In all locations, you can also make your request in person.  Please ask court security personnel to direct you to the court’s Chief Clerk’s office.  Be aware that, if you wait until you get to court to request an accommodation, we may not be able to provide it that same day. back to top

 

Q. How will the accommodation request be handled?

A.  If the court will provide the requested accommodation, you will be notified by court personnel, or by the judge or judicial officer hearing your case.  In some cases, you may be asked to provide additional information about your disability.  Information you provide will be kept confidential to the extent possible.  The court may also propose an alternative accommodation for you to consider.

If the Chief Clerk or District Executive denies your requested accommodation -- and an alternative cannot be agreed on -- you will get a written Denial of Accommodation.  That Denial can be administratively reviewed upon request.  

If a judge or judicial officer denies your accommodation request, you may ask them to provide a written judicial order or state the reason for the denial on the record.  That denial can be judicially reviewed.

back to top


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 visit this page

back to top


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.

back to top

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.

back to top

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: ig@nycourts.gov.

back to top

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.

back to top

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.

back to top

Q. Can the court system provide an accommodation for a spectator?

A. The court will provide reasonable accommodations for spectators. Accommodation requests by spectators should be made as many days in advance of the proceeding as possible.  Please see “How do I request an accommodation?” above for more information.

back to top

Q. Can the court store medication as an accommodation?

A. Courts can accommodate a court user with a disability by temporarily keeping medication and related supplies in an appropriate area.  Requests for this accommodation should be made to the court’s Chief Clerk.

back to top

Q. Are service animals allowed in the courthouse?

A. Yes, service animals are allowed in all areas where members of the public are allowed. Service animals are dogs that have been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability. They are working animals, not pets. Dogs whose sole function is to provide comfort or emotional support do not qualify as service animals under the ADA.

A person who wants to bring a service animal into the courthouse does not have to verbally or in writing confirm that they have a disability, but they may be asked certain questions about their service animal. If it is not immediately obvious what service an animal provides, a person may be asked whether (1) their dog is a service animal required because of a disability and, (2) what work or tasks the dog has been trained to perform. 

Service animals must be kept on a leash, harness, or tether (unless using one is not possible due to the handler's disability or always interferes with the service animal’s performance) and be within the control of the person with a disability . 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.

In some circumstances, a miniature horse that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability may also be permitted in the courthouse as a reasonable accommodation. 

Please note:  “comfort” or “emotional support” animals that do not qualify as service animals will not be permitted, unless otherwise authorized by a court’s Administrative Judge.

back to top

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.

back to top

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.

 

back to top

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. 

back to top

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. For information on how to obtain one, please see “How do I request an accommodation?” above.

back to top

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.

back to top

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.

 

back to top