Living with a disability – what is ADA?

Introduction – what is ADA?

ADA stands for Americans with Disabilities Act. Introduced in 1990, ADA was an important step in laying progressive legislative foundations in recognition of the unique issues facing disabled people across several major areas of day-to-day life, including:

  • Transport
  • Telecommunications
  • State and local government programs
  • Public/commercial access and facilities
  • Employment (specifically, ensuring that disabled people are granted equal opportunity in benefitting from employment opportunities)

While this article is intended as an introductory snapshot of the five ADA ‘titles’ (please see below), we understand that some people may have already encountered legal issues. If you feel that you need expert advice and guidance on specific issues such as filing or pursuing a claim related to ADA, contact an experienced ADA lawyer. Remember, all cases related to ADA must be filed with the EEOC either within 180 days from the date of the alleged discrimination, or within 300 days where the alleged discrimination is filed with the state’s fair employment practices agency.

ADA Title I – Employment

Title I of ADA relates to employers with 15 employees or more. Discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited – the onus is on the employer to provide reasonable accommodations that address and remove any foreseeable barriers to the employee’s ability to complete the required tasks associated with the role.

ADA Title II – Access to Public Entities

Title II of ADA prohibits public entities and state/local government from discriminating against disabled people in terms of any potential exclusion from access to services on the basis of disability. Title II is particularly noteworthy in relation to access to all forms of public transport provided by state/local government entities.

ADA Title III – Access to Businesses (open to the public)

Newly constructed buildings and renovated properties intended for use as a place of business (open to the public) must conform with Title III of ADA, covering access and usage. Examples of businesses that must conform with Title III include movie theatres, child care facilities, restaurants, schools, and recreation facilities.

ADA Title IV – Relating to Telecommunications

Under Title IV of ADA, telecommunications companies are required to provide an equivalent service in terms of functionality for disabled users. For example, telephone companies are required to provide a telecommunications relay service that allows people with hearing or speech impairments to communicate through the use of a teletypewriter.

ADA Title V – “Miscellaneous”

All other ADA laws typically fall under “miscellaneous” (covered by Title V). Along with provisions relating to all other Titles, Title V is noteworthy for providing legal protections against any retaliation experienced by any individual during the course of attempting to enforce the rights afforded and protected under ADA.

There is an extensive legal framework outlining the legal definitions of disabilities associated with ADA. However, as a general guide, disabilities may include impairment covering aspects such as:

  • Sight
  • Mobility
  • Hearing
  • Reading
  • Learning
  • Speech & Communication

Always seek expert legal advice on your individual circumstances if you believe that you may be entitled to bring a case for discrimination relating to a disability under ADA.

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