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Everything You Need to Know About the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

February 16, 2018

Can you imagine a time when individuals with disabilities didn’t enjoy the same rights and opportunities as everyone else? In reality, it hasn’t been very long.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed in 1990. From public accommodations and employment to transportation, telecommunications and more – it’s been empowering people and opening doors (literally and figuratively) ever since.

Let’s take a look at how the Americans with Disabilities Act works.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is divided into five “titles,” or sections:   

Title 1 – Equal Employment Opportunity for Individuals with Disabilities

Having a job is much more than working for a few hours and collecting a paycheck (although that’s nice). It’s about independence and having a sense of purpose. This title is designed to help people with disabilities access the same employment opportunities and benefits available to people without disabilities. It states that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to all qualified applicants or employees. In South Dakota, we’re working to dispel the myths about hiring a qualified person with a disability.

Title II – Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Governments

Title II prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in all programs, activities and services available through state and local governments. It also establishes detailed standards for the operation of public transit systems.

Title III – Public Accommodations

This title is all about accessibility in privately-held, public places such as hotels, restaurants, retail stores, doctor’s offices, golf courses, day care centers, health clubs, sports stadiums, movie theaters and more. Plus, it directs businesses to make "reasonable modifications" when serving people with disabilities and take steps necessary to communicate effectively with customers who are vision, hearing or speech-disabled. 

Title IV – Telecommunications

Everyone should have the right to communicate online and over the phone, and that’s exactly what this title requires. It mandates a nationwide system of telephone and web-based telecommunications relay services for individuals with hearing and speech disabilities. This title also requires closed captioning of federally funded public service announcements. 

Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions

The final title contains a variety of provisions relating to the ADA as a whole, including its relationship to other laws, state immunity, its impact on insurance providers and benefits, etc. One of the most important is that the ADA does not invalidate or override any other laws (federal, state or local) that provide equal or greater protections or remedies for people with disabilities. This title also provides a list of certain conditions that are not to be considered as disabilities.

Ready to learn more? Check out a wide variety of resources, news and success stories at the ADA National Network.

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