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Disabilities and face masks: What you need to know

Coronavirus in Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The mask ordinance in Wichita has been in effect for several days now, but some people with disabilities are concerned after being asked to leave businesses because they did not have a mask on.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ordinance signed by Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple, those with disabilities are not required to wear masks.

The disabilities include asthma, PTSD, sever anxiety, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, and similar disabilities and conditions. Children under the age of five are exempt, as well.

“Our son is autistic, and he won’t wear one,” said Tara Brimer, parent. “Some kids have sensory issues where they don’t like things on their face or head.”

Another man from Wichita said he was asked to leave a store after walking in with no mask on and telling employees he had several disabilities that prevented him from wearing one. He was still asked to leave the store.

Instances like these have some people speaking out and working to raise awareness for disabilities and those who may not be able to wear masks.

The ADA states that that a refusal to grant an exemption violates the act and is not allowed.

A Wichita attorney tells KSN News that a business is allowed to ask customers if they have a disability that exempts them from wearing a mask, but a customer is not required to go into further detail.

The ADA also states that business owners have to consider reasonable modifications for customers with disabilities. This prevents businesses from refusing to serve someone who is not wearing a mask. They must provide adequate modifications to provide access for those with disabilities.

To read the City of Wichita mask ordinance in its entirety, click here.

For more information about the ADA and protections for people with disabilities, click here.

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