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What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

There are 61 million adults in the United States who have some sort of disability. With such a high number, one can assume that persons with disabilities have been watched over and taken care of throughout the years, so they may live fulfilling and productive lives. Well, this is a yes and no situation. The ADA, or the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed by former President George H.W. Bush just as recently as 1990. Despite this act coming into fruition not too long ago, many people may still not be aware of what it contains, how it helps persons with disabilities, and how it may even punish entities that are not compliant. Many resources have come up such as ADA Compliance Pros to help businesses avoid such situations. But this article will help shed some light regarding disabilities in the United States and how the ADA serves to provide and improve their lives.

With disabilities possibly causing difficulties in these individuals’ lives, the American with Disabilities Act has been aiming to prohibit discrimination against them. The act contains several “titles” which focus on different sectors of society or public life. These include the following: jobs, schools, transportation, and generally “all public and private places that are open to the general public.” Let’s break down how the ADA works in each of these titles.

Title I - Employment

This title helps those with disabilities to have equal opportunities as well as benefits than those without disabilities when employed somewhere with 15 or more employees. “Reasonable accommodations” are required of these employers. These are changes to the workplace that will allow employees with disabilities to work without causing “undue hardship” to their employees. This allows those with disabilities to be employed, while also avoiding any loss in profit or productivity for the employer.

Title II - Public Services

Public services refer to state and local government services. In a nutshell this means state and local governments are prohibited from discriminating and excluding individuals on the basis of their disability. This means state and local government services should be equally accessible to those with disabilities just as it is to those without. Necessary planning needs to be done by these public entities so as to avoid situations of discrimination. Transportation that is publicly funded falls under this title. Such kinds of transportation are bus and rail services.

Title III - Accommodations and Services of Private Entities

Similar to the first two titles, places of public accommodations owned by private entities such as restaurants, concert halls, movie houses, schools, private hospitals, retail shops, and the like, are prohibited from discriminating against differently abled persons. In order to best cater to persons with disabilities, necessary adjustments and changes need to be made by and within these public places of accomodations. This also includes private-owned transportation services. Reasonable modifications must be made so as to be able to serve persons with disabilities. In addition to this, physical barriers must also be addressed so as not to restrict movement, entry, entry, or exit from their establishments.

Title IV - Telecommunications

This title makes clear that persons with disabilities, even those with auditory or speech disabilities, are able to access their services and communicate through the phone. Included in this is providing closed captions for “federally funded public service announcements.”

Title V - Miscellaneous Provisions

The fifth title states which conditions are not considered disabilities as well as various provisions about the ADA as a whole. This refers to its relationship with other laws as well as state immunity. Other items of note are the impact of the ADA to insurance providers, and certain prohibitions.


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