(1) Same service preferred.
The purposes of the law against discrimination are best achieved when disabled persons are treated the same as if they were not disabled. The legislature expresses this policy in RCW 49.60.215
with the words "regardless of." Persons should, if possible, be treated without regard to their disability or use of a dog guide or service animal. This is called "same service" in this chapter.
(2) Reasonable accommodation.
The law protects against discrimination because of the "presence" of a disability. It does not prohibit treating disabled persons more favorably than nondisabled persons in circumstances where same service will defeat the purposes of the law against discrimination.
For example, this would be true if persons in wheelchairs and nondisabled persons are equally entitled to use the stairway to reach the second floor of a store. In such circumstances, the operator of the place of public accommodation should use the next best solution: Reasonable accommodation.
A reasonable accommodation would be to permit the shopper in the wheelchair to use an elevator to reach the second floor, even though the public in general is not permitted to use the elevator. If there is no elevator and no other safe and dignified way for the customer to reach the second floor, another reasonable accommodation would be to bring merchandise requested by the customer to the first floor. Reasonable accommodations may also include, but are not limited to, providing sign language interpreters and making printed materials available in alternate formats.
(3) Overall objective.
People with disabilities must be afforded the full enjoyment of places of public accommodation to the greatest extent practical.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 49.60.120(3). 99-15-025, § 162-26-060, filed 7/12/99, effective 8/12/99. Statutory Authority: RCW 49.60.120(3) and 1997 c 271. 98-08-035, § 162-26-060, filed 3/23/98, effective 4/23/98. Statutory Authority: RCW 49.60.120(3). 82-19-086 (Order 41), § 162-26-060, filed 9/22/82.]