The American Disabilities Act
On July 26, 1990, President George Bush signed the American Disabilities Act (ADA) into law. To the 43 million Americans living with disabilities, the ADA is an opportunity to eliminate barriers to independence and productivity. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the ADA extends to people with disabilities the same civil rights now given on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in private sector employment, the services provided by state and local governments, places of public accommodation, transportation, and telecommunication services.
Title I: Employment
Title I of the ADA requires those employing 15 or more people to provide equal employment related opportunities to qualified individuals with disabilities. This title applies to private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor organizations, and joint-labor management committees. Title I prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. In addition, it requires employers to make "reasonable accommodation" to known physical and mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities. Title I of the ADA is enforced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Additional information can be obtained by calling (800)-669-EEOC (voice) or (800)-669-6820 (TDD)
Title II: State and Local Government Activities and Public Transportation
Title II requires all state and local governments to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their services, programs and activities, including public schools, courts, employment, and transportation. This includes relocating all government agencies to accessible buildings, following specific architectural guidelines in the construction and design of new buildings to insure accessibility, and providing effective means of communication for those with a hearing, speech, or vision loss. For more information on the provisions concerning the state or local governments, please contact the US Department of Justice.
Title II also covers public transportation services such as city buses and public rail transit. According to the ADA, public transportation authorities must comply with requirements for accessibility in newly purchased vehicles and must make an effort to purchase or lease accessible buses, remanufacture buses in an accessible manner, and provide a paratransit service where fixed route buses or rail service is offered. (Paratransit is a service where individuals who are unable to use the regular service independently because of a mental or physical impairment are picked up and dropped off at their destination.) For more information on public transportation and the ADA, please contact the Federal Transit Administration.
Documents and Questions: (202)-366-1656 (voice) or (202)-366-4567 (TDD)
Title III: Public Accommodations
Title III of the ADA requires that businesses and nonprofit service providers that are public accommodations, privately operated entities offering certain types of courses and examinations, privately operated transportation, or commercial facilities comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment of those with disabilities. These requirements include designing new and renovated buildings to meet specific architectural standards for accessibility, making reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures, and providing an effective means of communication for people with hearing, speech, or visual disabilities. To receive more information or to file a complaint concerning this, please contact the US Department of Justice.
Title IV of the ADA mandates that private companies offer telecommunication relay services (TRS) to hearing impaired and speech impaired individuals in the United States 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TRS allows callers with speech and hearing disabilities who use text telephones to communicate with callers who use voice telephones through a third party. Title IV also requires closed captioning of all federally funded public service announcements. For more information on Title IV, please contact the FCC.
The information presented here was derived from A Guide to Disability Rights Laws published by the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section.