29 years ago today, then President George H. W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act. In the years right after, the basic structure of the ADA became as familiar to people with disabilities as the backs of our own hands. But nearly 30 years after the law passed, it’s probably a good idea to review what’s actually in it. The Americans with Disabilities Act includes three main sections or “Titles”:
Title I: Employment
* Makes it illegal to deny employment and job benefits because of disability, as long as the disabled person is otherwise able to perform the essential functions of the job.
* Requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable, individual accommodations to disabled employees to enable them to do their jobs.
Title II: State & Local Government
* Requires state and local governments at all levels to make all of their services and programs accessible and provide equal service to people with disabilities.
* Program accessibility can include a combination of physical accessibility and individual supports and modifications to make each program as a whole generally accessible.
Title III: Public Accommodations
* Businesses and organizations that provide goods and services to the public must provide equal service to customers with disabilities.
* Businesses and organizations must make their public facilities physically accessible for all, and provide reasonable individual accommodations as needed to ensure individuals are able to get equal service.
* Accessibility is defined by the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, a set of specific physical standards to ensure a base level of accessibility in all types of facilities.
There is also a Title IV that deals with specific telecommunication services, like TV captioning and telephone relay systems for the deaf. The ADA also set ambitious long-term goals of making all kinds of transportation accessible, including buses and trains. Note that the ADA was designed to complement already existing disability rights laws such as:
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act covering the federal government.
The Fair Housing Act covering housing, and
The Air Carrier Access Act covering commercial air travel.
Later on, Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act mandated accessibility of websites.
For more information on the ADA, try these links:
If you have questions about disability rights and accessibility, you can always call us at the North Country Center for Independence at 518-563-9058.