July 26th will be the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which became a law in 1990. This law was created to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of the public. This means jobs, transportation and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of this law is to ensure that people with disabilities have equal opportunities and rights as every other person. To fully understand the ADA, we have to break down the five sections that relate to different areas of public life that this law covers.
Title I: Equal Employment Opportunity for Individuals with Disabilities
This title in particular is to help those with disabilities to access the same employment opportunities as people without disabilities. The employer must provide accommodations so that the employee may participate in the application process and perform essential job functions.
Title II: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services
This title of the ADA prohibits discrimination in all programs, activities, and services of public entities. This applies to all state and local governments. This section clarifies the requirements for any public transportation, for example, AMTRAK. This title also includes requirements for self-evaluation. It gives public transportation an outline of what modifications need to be made to their systems to ensure that everyone has equal access.
Title III: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities
Title III prohibits places of public accommodations from discriminating. Public accommodations include privately-owned, leased or operated facilities. This includes hotels, restaurants, stadiums, movie theaters, etc. Once again, this is a requirement for these facilities to make “reasonable modifications” in order to create access for individuals with disabilities. This title is regulated by the U.S Department of Justice.
Title IV: Telecommunications
Title IV requires telephone and internet companies to provide a system to relay services that allow individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to be able to communicate over the phone.
Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions
This section covers the ADA law as a whole, in specific, its connections to other laws, state immunity, its impact on insurance providers, etc. This title also covers a list of conditions that are not to be considered disabilities.
As we continue to try to close the gap between opportunities for people with and without disabilities, it is important to stay educated in changing and progression of these laws and regulations. If you or someone you know has a disability, we encourage you to visit the ADA Government Website, where you can find all kinds of resources and information.