Americans with Disabilities Act

Americans with Disabilities Act

Signed into law on July 26 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a wide-ranging legislation intended to make American Society more accessible to people with disabilities.

It is divided into five titles:

Employment (Title I)

Business must provide reasonable accommodations to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment. Possible changes may include restructuring jobs, altering the layout of workstations, or modifying equipment. Employment aspects may include the application process, hiring, wages, benefits, and all other aspects of employment. Medical examinations are highly regulated.

Public Services (Title II)

Public services, which include state and local government instrumentalities, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and other commuter authorities, cannot deny services to people with disabilities participation in programs or activities which are available to people without disabilities. In addition, public transportation systems, such as public transit buses, must be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Public Accommodations (Title III)

All new construction and modifications must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. For existing facilities, barriers to services must be removed if readily achievable. Public accommodations include facilities such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, retail stores, etc., as well as privately owned transportation systems.

Telecommunications (Title IV)

Telecommunications companies offering telephone service to the general public must have telephone relay service to individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TTYs) or similar devices.

Miscellaneous (Title V)

Includes a provision prohibiting either (a) coercing or threatening or (b) retaliating against the disabled or those attempting to aid people with disabilities in asserting their rights under the ADA.

The ADA‘s protection applies primarily, but not exclusively, to “disabled” individuals. An individual is “disabled” if he or she meets at least any one of the following tests:

  1. He or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities;
  2. He or she has a record of such an impairment; or
  3. He or she is regarded as having such an impairment.

Other individuals who are protected in certain circumstances include:

  1. those, such as parents, who have an association with an individual known to have a disability, and
  2. those who are coerced or subjected to retaliation for assisting people with disabilities in asserting their rights under the ADA.

While the employment provisions of the ADA apply to employers of fifteen employees or more, its public accommodations provisions apply to all sizes of business, regardless of number of employees. State and local governments are covered regardless of size.

Note: This fact sheet was written by the Job Accommodation Network.

A to Z of Disabilities and Accommodations 
The A to Z collection is a one-stop web resource consisting of more than 7,400 documents relating to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and contains information on the following:

  • The ADA Law
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Employee Technical Assistance Manual
  • Employee Rights
  • Employer Responsibilities
  • State and Local Government Technical Assistance Manual
  • ADA Guide for Small Towns
  • Private Business Technical Assistance Manual
  • ADA Guide for Small Business
  • ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG)
  • Checklist for Existing Facilities
  • Recreation Access
  • Transportation Technical Assistance Manual
  • Guaranteeing Access to Transportation
  • Communications: Frequently Asked Questions
  • Auxiliary Aids
  • Interpretation Letters

Fact Sheet last updated on: 7/16/2024

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