In My Fair Lady Henry Higgins famously described his ideal room as having an atmosphere as quiet as an undiscovered tomb. Some anti-noise advocates would like to have the ADA impose this kind of requirement on every public accommodation. A recent news story* about this illustrates how little the press and public understand about what the ADA requires.

The complaint that prompted the story is simple. If you have a hearing impairment then it is hard to understand conversation in a noisy public place like a restaurant.‡ In discussing this complaint the Washington Post article and the underlying paper by Daniel Fink ignore or misunderstand two things about the ADA – what it means to be disabled, what the ADA requires in the name of equality. More