In 1990 the ADA was passed to help protect and enable people with disabilities in the United States. The act is intended to help people who have physical or psychological disabilities that substantially limit any major life activity. Examples include:
* Mental Ability
People who experience developmental delay or neurological impairment, as well as a number of other disabling circumstances may qualify for protections and assistance under this law. Furthermore, people acting on behalf of or in support or defense of a person with a disability may be eligible for protection and/or assistance. In this article, we will cover the basics and provide ADA advice to help you make the most of this important legislation.
The 5 Titles Within The ADA
1. Employment – Private businesses and employers that have a minimum of fifteen employees, as well as all government “businesses” and any employment agency cannot discriminate against people because of disability. Applicants and employees with disabilities must be considered and treated equally and provided reasonable accommodation (e.g. wheelchair ramps, sign language interpreter, mobility modifications).
2. Public Services, Activities & Programs – Local, state and federal government agencies cannot deny qualification or participation in programs based upon the disability of an applicant or participant. People with disabilities must be provided reasonable equal access/opportunities for recreation, public meetings, voting, transportation, social services, health care and the like.
Accommodation does not have to take the form of physical modifications. For example, if a service is typically offered in an area that is inaccessible to a person with a disability, simply providing that service in an accessible area may be more reasonable than making physical modifications to the building.
3. Public Accommodations – Both for-profit and non-profit private establishments may not exclude, discriminate against or deny access to people with disabilities. Reasonable accessibility accommodations must be made in public places such as:
* Recreation facilities
* Day care facilities
* Homeless shelters
Generally speaking, any business that offers lodging, goods, services, education, testing, etc. to the public must make reasonable accommodations to offer the same to qualifying individuals with disabilities. Facilities and businesses under construction must include accessibility in their design. Existing businesses and facilities must accommodate within reason.
4. Telecommunications – As an addendum to the 1934 Telecommunications Act, the ADA requires that telecommunications companies provide a relay service to enable people with speech and/or hearing impairment to use telephone service per requirements set forth by Title IV of the ADA. Furthermore, new televisions with screen size greater than thirteen inches must have closed captioning ability built in.
5. Miscellaneous Provisions – This title provides for a number of miscellaneous circumstances which may arise. Under Title V, people with disabilities may sue state agencies that violate the provisions of the ADA; even though, the state might have immunity under other circumstances.
This title also protects successful plaintiffs in ADA related lawsuits against subsequent retaliation and/or harassment. This protection is extended to any individual who may testify on behalf of the plaintiff.
Title V also provides for the payment of attorney’s fees in such lawsuits and the right to engage any other state or federal law that falls under the umbrella of ADA.
How To Get Help With ADA Advice
People with disabilities who qualify for ADA protections may also look to laws of individual states for further protection. If you feel you or someone you know has been discriminated against because of disability, you should contact an attorney specializing in civil rights, business or employment rights to explore your case.