Office of Disability Services



Definitions and Terminology
(reference-Americans with Disabilities Act, Sec. 36.1(4))

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a Service Animal is defined as “any animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability including, but not limited to: guiding, alerting, pulling a wheelchair, fetching, and opening doors.” Dangerous, poisonous, and/or illegal animals are not permitted.


Approved Service Animals may include:

Service Dog (Assistance Dog): A Service Dog is one that has been trained to assist a person who has a mobility or health impairment. The types of duties the dog may perform include carrying, fetching, opening doors, ringing doorbells, activating elevator buttons, steadying a person while walking, assisting a person to get up after a fall, etc. Service Dogs are sometimes referred to as Assistance Dogs.

A Dog in Training: This terminology refers to a Service Dog in the process of being trained. However, while in training, these dogs have the same rights as a fully trained dog when accompanied by a trainer and is identified as such.

Guide Dog: A Guide Dog is one that has been carefully trained and serves as a travel tool by individuals who are blind or who have severe visual impairments.

Seeing Eye Dog: Only dogs that have been trained by The Seeing Eye School in Morristown, NJ can be called Seeing Eye Dogs.

Hearing/Signal Animal: An animal that has been trained for sound-specific tasks to alert a person who is deaf or with a hearing-related disability. (ie. a knock on the door, a fire alarm, the phone ringing).

Sig. (Signal) Animal : A Signal Animal is specially trained to assist a person with autism. The animal alerts the partner to distracting, repetitive movements. A person with autism may have deficits in sensory input and may need the same support services from an animal that one might provide for a person who is vision or hearing impaired.

Seizure Response Animal: An animal trained to assist a person with a seizure disorder. The type of assistance provided is individually determined by the individual circumstances and severity of the disorder. The animal may stand guard over the person during a seizure or may go for help. Some animals have learned to predict a seizure and warn the person in advance.  

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