American Disabilities Act (ADA) Basics You Need to Know

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The Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a landmark act of Congress that has helped millions of people who face daily challenges most of us will never understand. Passed in 1990, the civil rights legislation officially prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities.

The ADA’s underlying purpose is simple: It ensures that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as those who do not have an inhibiting disability.

The law extends to all areas of everyday life that are open to the general public, including many private places. It also extends to the workplace.

The ADA has five basic parts:

1. Employment.

Any employer with over 15 employees must comply with ADA requirements. Generally, this means providing the same opportunities and benefits to disabled job applicants and employees as offered to other workers. It also means making “reasonable accommodations” as long as they don’t cause an “undue hardship,” which is defined as causing significant difficulty or expense.

As with other aspects of the ADA, do not hesitate to speak with a local, employment attorney as terms like reasonable accommodation and undue hardship may depend on the specific facts.

2. Pubic Services.

Public entities, such as local and state government agencies, are expressly prohibited for discriminating on the basis of disability. All government programs and services must be accessible to disabled individuals, and reasonable allowances are required in regard to standard government policies and practices. ADA public services requirements also apply to public transportation offered by state and local governments, as well as those offered by many private transportation companies.

3. Public Accommodations.

Public accommodation requirements extend to a wide range of public and privately-owned entities, for example, restaurants, hotels, health clubs, sports stadiums, movie theaters, museums, and so forth. These businesses must make “reasonable modifications” to their usual ways of conducting business in order to serve people with disabilities. This area of the ADA sets minimum standards for creating physical accessibility features, like wheelchair ramps and handrails.

4. Telecommunications.

This section requires communications companies, like internet and telephone companies, to provide ways for people with hearing, speech, and other disabilities to be able to use their services.

5. Other Provisions.

The “Other Provisions” section of the ADA contains information about how the law affects other laws, and outlines potential impacts on insurance providers and touches on attorneys’ fees. It also defines what isn’t considered a disability under the law.

We know this can be a complicated issue to tackle head on. Do not wait to contact us. We are your local team of attorneys experienced in issues like these. You may contact us to schedule a free case evaluation today.