The JJs List Blog

Wheelchair Bowling:  Do Wheelchairs belong in Bowling Alleys?

Posted by on April 25, 2017 - 6 Comments

A Wheeling, IL Bowling Alley Reportedly Says Wheelchairs Don’t Belong.

Recently, a special education teacher posted a review on JJ’s about Pinheads Jeffery Lanes in Wheeling, IL, saying that the manager denied her a reservation for her school group because the wheels of a wheelchair user in her group could leave marks on the lanes.  Read the full review here.  

The manager’s response sounded like discrimination to us, so we reached out to Rachel Weisberg, an Attorney at Equip for Equality, an organization that works to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities. “The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is clear that individuals who use wheelchairs and other sorts of assistive devices are able to go all places where people without disabilities are allowed to go,” said Weisberg.  “This would apply to bowling alleys as well. Unlike people without disabilities, wheelchair users cannot just quickly swap their wheelchair wheels, so a business cannot require that they have a certain specification.”

We at JJ’s List believe that it is important for everyone to be included, whether or not they have a disability. The ADA requires all businesses that are open to the public to provide accommodations for people with disabilities. Because bowling alleys are public places, they are no exception. By refusing to allow wheelchair users access to bowl, we think Pinheads Jeffery Lanes was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.  What should the manager have done?  First, he should have welcomed the wheelchair user to the business just like they would any customer.  He could also have asked the wheelchair user if he or she needed any help or accommodations to enjoy bowling at Pinheads.

Or, how about adding wheelchair covers like these to your inventory of bowling shoes and other bowling equipment in order to protect the floors?  Wheelchair users, do you think this is a good solution?  

Does your business want to avoid being caught disability unaware?  Check out our Disability Awareness Trainings.

If you would like to be more involved with encouraging businesses and organizations to be disability aware, post your review of a business or organization on JJ’s today.

Do you have any other suggestions? Leave a comment below!


Matthew Lachapelle says:
May 09, 2017

I love what people could do any thing

Jon Rose says:
Aug 02, 2017

In case anyone wanted to know the ADA scoping requirements that relate to Bowling lanes, I have added them below:

206.2.11 Bowling Lanes. Where bowling lanes are provided, at least 5 percent, but no fewer than one of each type of bowling lane, shall be on an accessible route.

As for the denial of access mentioned in the article, that was not only unfortunate, but was illegal too.

Eric Chiu says:
Dec 07, 2017

The wheelchair allows to play and access to bowl that can affect the ADA. The inventory need the bowling shoe and ball for to protect the hardwood floor. Wheelchair cannot swap and quickly for their wheelchair wheels. Most of the business place requires for the open public place to provide the accommodation people with syndrome and disabilities. Bowling alley is the public place where to play bowling in each lane.

David Thompson says:
Dec 19, 2017

Based strictly on my initial experiences with Center for Independent Futures, I do have at least one recommendation of a bowling alley that seems like it embodies the spirit of the ADA act, especially when it comes to wheelchairs on the bowling lanes. Classic Bowl, located in Morton Grove, has had a couple individuals in wheelchairs bowling on one of the lanes when I’ve been there in November and December 2017. I admit, I was there as part of the Center for Independent Futures group, so this is why I can say this with reasonable authority.

Covers for the wheels of wheelchairs might be a good idea for bowling alleys to have. That said, I would prefer to let the individuals in wheelchairs decide on that for themselves and inform the management of a bowling alley directly.

Tyler Joseph says:
Jan 11, 2018

That’s unfortunate very unfortunate, they just wanted to bowl too!

The bowling alley I frequent always accommodates. I’ve seen some great bowlers in wheelchairs before. I also think bowling establishments that keep tire covers handy like the ones you mentioned in the article would be a great customer service add on to have. They rather lose the customers than just accommodating.

David Nelson Jr. says:
Jul 07, 2021

wheelchair bowlers definitely belong in bowling alleys. We are having a wheelchair bowling tournament in Council Bluffs,Iowa July 29- Aug. 1 2021. I strongly encourage people to watch wheelchair bowlers from across the country compete. Please go to for info and decide for yourself.

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