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ADA Technical Documents

ADA Technical Documents


 

ADA Laws and Regulations

by

Richard Acree

 

There are many laws that govern Americans with Disability Act (ADA) issues. Other regulations and publications support these laws. The following are basic over views of these documents that apply to ADA.

The United States Code (USC)

The Code of Laws of the United States of America is also referred to as the United States Code (USC). The USC is the official compilation and codification of the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States. It contains 53 titles (Titles 1–54, excepting Title 53, it being reserved). The main edition is published every six years and cumulative supplements are published annually. The official version of those laws not codified in the United States Code can be found in United States Statutes at Large. 

The USC, as it pertains to ADA, is divided into titles, chapters, and sub-chapters that classify laws according to their subject matter. Titles I, II, III, and V of the original law were codified in Title 42, chapter 126, of the United States Code beginning at section 12101. Title IV of the original law was codified in Title 47, chapter 5, of the United States Code. Since this codification resulted in changes in the numbering system, the Table of Contents provides the section numbers of the ADA as originally enacted in brackets after the codified section numbers and headings.  Implementation rules for the USC are contained in the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR).  The CFR is an annual codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the Federal Government.  Within the CFR, Title 28 CFR Part 35, are the implementation rules for nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in State and local government services, and Title 28 CFR Part 36, nondiscrimination on the basis of disability by public  accommodations, for buildings and facilities. These rules will be discussed below.

AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA)

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The US Department of Justice originally published its ADA title II and title III regulations on July 26, 1991, (1991 Standards) including the 1991 ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). The ADA originally published in 1991 was enacted in public law format and later rearranged and published in the United States Code. The 1991 Standards, printed as Appendix A of the title III regulation in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), July 1, 1994, could be used for new construction and alterations under Titles II and III until March 14, 2012. The ADA is a law, not a building code.

The 1991 Standards set guidelines for accessibility to places of public accommodation and commercial facilities by individuals with disabilities. These guidelines were to be applied during the design, construction, and alteration of such buildings and facilities to the extent required by regulations issued by Federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The technical specifications 4.2 through 4.35, of these guidelines are the same as those of the American National Standard Institute’s document A117.1-1980, except as noted in this document. However, sections 4.1.1 through 4.1.7 and sections 5 through 10 are different from ANSI A117.1 in their entirety and are printed in standard type.

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA, P.L. 110-325) was enacted on September 25, 2008, and became effective on January 1, 2009. The law made a number of significant changes to the definition of “disability” under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

On September 15, 2010 the DOJ published final regulations revising the DOJ's ADA regulations, including the adoption of updated ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards). March 15, 2011, was the effective date for the revised title II and title III regulations which include, in part, requirements for:

  • Service animals, ticketing, and use of wheelchairs, manually-powered mobility aids and other power-driven mobility devices;

    For example, a sports arena, on or after March 15, 2011, must tell an individual with a disability and his or her companions about the features of accessible seating. If seating maps or brochures are provided to the general public, similar information showing accessible seating must be provided to individuals with disabilities.

  • Effective Communication (auxiliary aids and services); and

  • Examinations and Courses.

March 15, 2012 is the compliance date for provisions governing hotel reservation policies.  For example, on or after March 15, 2012, reservations staff (of a hotel or a third party) will be required to identify accessible features in guest rooms (e.g. guest room door widths and availability of roll-in showers) and other hotel amenities in sufficient detail so that an individual with a disability can make an independent assessment whether the hotel meets his or her accessibility needs.

March 15, 2012 is also the compliance date for using the 2010 Standards for new construction, alterations, program accessibility, and barrier removal. Although under certain circumstances, the revised regulations permit the use of the 2010 Standards before the compliance date of March 15, 2012, entities are not required to comply with the 2010 Standards until March 15, 2012.

The Department has assembled an official online version of the 2010 Standards to bring together the information in one easy-to-access location. It provides the scoping and technical requirements for new construction and alterations resulting from the adoption of revised 2010 Standards in the final rules for Title II (28 CFR part 35) and Title III (28 CFR part 36). The Department has also compiled Guidance on the 2010 Standards from the revised regulations for Titles II and III. This explanatory information from the regulations addresses the scoping and technical provisions of the 2010 Standards.

On July 15, 2016, Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed a final rule revising the ADA title II and III regulations to implement the requirements of the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 . The final rule was published in the Federal Register on August 11, 2016, and took effect 60 days after publication, on October 11, 2016. Congress enacted the ADA Amendments Act to clarify the meaning and interpretation of the ADA definition of “disability” to ensure that the definition of disability would be broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis.

The title III regulation was again revised on November 21, 2016, when Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed a final rule that further clarified a public accommodations obligation to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for people with disabilities. The Movie Captioning and Audio Description Final Rule provides that public accommodations that own, operate, or lease movie theaters are required to provide closed movie captioning and audio description whenever showing a digital movie that is produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with these features. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on December 2, 2016, and took effect 45 days after publication, on January 17, 2017.

ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)

ADAAG is a document that contains scoping and technical requirements for accessibility to buildings and facilities by individuals with disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. These scoping and technical requirements are to be applied during the design, construction, and alteration of buildings and facilities covered by titles II and III of the ADA to the extent required by regulations issued by Federal agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation, under the ADA.  ADAAG is not the same as the ADA Standards. The USAB regulations must be consistent with the ADAAG, but the ADAAG contains guidelines, not enforceable standards.

The original ADAAG was published in 1991 and was later supplemented to address state and local government facilities (1998), children's environments (1998), play areas (2000), and recreation facilities (2002). These later supplements are incorporated into both the updated ADA-ABA guidelines and the current standards.

Architectural Barriers Act (ABA Standards)

Standards issued under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) apply to facilities designed, built, altered, or leased with certain federal funds. Passed in 1968, the ABA is one of the first laws to address access to the built environment. The law applies to federal buildings, including post offices, social security offices, federal courthouses and prisons, and national parks. It also covers non-federal facilities, such as public housing units and mass transit systems, built or altered with federal grants or loans. Coverage is limited to those funding programs that give the federal agency awarding grants or loans the authority to establish facility standards. The law resulted in the first set of standards for the removal of architectural barriers: The Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS).  The UFAS is discussed below.

Four agencies establish the ABA standards according to guidelines issued by the Access  board: the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).  The latest editions of the ABA standards issued by GSA, DOD, and USPS are substantively the same and replace the earlier Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards. HUD’s update of the standards is pending.

Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS)

The UFAS document sets standards for facility accessibility by physically handicapped persons for Federal and federally-funded facilities. These standards are to be applied during the design, construction, and alteration of buildings and facilities to the extent required by the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, as amended. This document presents uniform standards for the design, construction and alteration of buildings so that physically handicapped persons will have ready access to and use of them in accordance with the Architectural Barriers Act, 42 U.S.C. 4151-4157.

These standards were jointly developed by the General Services Administration (GSA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Defense(DOD), and the United States Postal Service (USPS), under the authority of sections 2, 3, 4, and 4a, respectively, of the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, as amended, Pub. L. No. 90-480, 42 U.S.C. 4151-4157. The document embodies an agreement to minimize the differences between the standards previously used by the four agencies, and between those standards and the access standards recommended for facilities that are not federally funded or constructed.

The four standard-setting agencies establish and enforce standards for design, construction, and alteration of particular types of buildings and facilities. The Department of Defense prescribes standards for DOD installations; the Department of Housing and Urban Development prescribes standards for residential structures covered by the Architectural Barriers Act except those funded or constructed by DOD; the U.S. Postal Service prescribes standards for postal facilities. The General Services Administration (GSA) prescribes standards for all buildings subject to the Architectural Barriers Act that are not covered by standards issued by the other three standard-setting agencies. Each of the four agencies issues standards in accordance with its statutory authority.

To ensure compliance with the standards, Congress established the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (ATBCB) in Section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. 792. The ATBCB is composed of members representing eleven Federal agencies (the four standard-setting agencies; the departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Interior, Justice, Labor, and transportation; and the Veterans Administration) and eleven members appointed by the President from the general public. A 1978 amendment to Section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act added to the ATBCB's functions the responsibility to issue minimum guidelines (Guidelines) and requirements for the standards established by the four standard-setting agencies. The final rule that established the guidelines now in effect was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on August 4, 1982 (47 FR 33862) and is codified at USC Title 36 CFR part 1190.

The four standard-setting agencies determined that the uniform standards adopted by them would, as much as possible, not only comply with the Guidelines adopted by the ATBCB but also be consistent with the standards published by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for general use. ANSI is a nongovernmental national organization that publishes a wide variety of recommended standards. ANSI's standards for barrier-free design are developed by a committee made up of 52 organizations representing associations of handicapped people, rehabilitation professionals, design professionals, builders, and manufacturers. The standards, which are called ANSI Al17.1, "Specifications for Making Buildings and Facilities Accessible to, and Usable by, Physically Handicapped People," are developed using the consensus process.

The original ANSI A117.1, adopted in 1961, formed the technical basis for the first accessibility standards adopted by the federal government and most state governments. The current edition, ANSI A117.1-1980, is based on research funded by HUD. It has generally been accepted by the private sector and has been recommended for use in model state and local building codes by the Council of American Building Officials.

In keeping with the objective of uniformity between federal requirements and those commonly applied by state and local governments, the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) follows ANSI A117.1-1980 in format. Both the UFAS scope provisions, which establish the minimum number of elements and spaces required to comply with standards, and the UFAS technical requirements meet or exceed the comparable provisions of the Guidelines.  The UFAS was published in the FEDERAL REGISTER on August 7, 1984 (49 FR 31528).  Each of the standard-setting agencies has taken action in accordance with its own procedures, including internally prescribed rulemaking and the Administrative Procedure Act where applicable, to incorporate the UFAS in its own standards, regulations, or other directives. GSA adopted the UFAS in 41 CFR 101-19.6, effective August 7, 1984. HUD adopted the UFAS in 24 CFR part 40, effective October 4, 1984. USPS adopted the UFAS in Handbook RE-4, "Standards for Facility Accessibility by the Physically Handicapped," effective November 15, 1984. DOD adopted the UFAS by revising Chapter 18 of DOD 4270.1-M, "Construction Criteria," by memorandum dated May 8, 1985. [Note: Handbook RE-4, was amended effective April 16, 1986, by the addition of Interim Standards, Section 4.1.8, "Accessible Buildings: Leasing of Space in Existing Buildings." While Handbook RE-4, not UFAS, sets forth the governing standards for Postal facility accessibility. Handbook RE-4 may be further amended.]

As stated above, the United States Code, as it pertains to ADA, is divided into titles, chapters and sub-chapters that classify laws according to their subject matter. Titles I, II, III, and V of the original law were codified in Title 42, chapter 126, of the United States Code beginning at section 12101. Title IV of the original law was codified in Title 47, chapter 5, of the United States Code. Since this codification resulted in changes in the numbering system, the Table of Contents provides the section numbers of the ADA as originally enacted in brackets after the codified section numbers and headings. The following describes these 5 sub-chapters.

ADA Title I: Employment

Title I requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others. For example, it prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. It restricts questions that can be asked about an applicant's disability before a job offer is made, and it requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship. Employers must keep all medical records and disability information confidential and in separate files.

A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are usually done to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment. Examples include: making facilities accessible, job restructuring, part-time or modified work schedules, acquiring or modifying equipment, providing qualified readers and reassignment to a vacant position. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant requests. If more than one accommodation would be effective, the employer may choose which one to provide.

Title I complaints must be filed with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the date of discrimination, or 300 days if the charge is filed with a designated State or local fair employment practice agency. Individuals may file a lawsuit in Federal court only after they receive a "right-to-sue" letter from the EEOC.

The following groups are exempt from Title I.

  • Most private employers with fewer than 15 employees.

  • Corporations fully owned by the U.S. Government, Indian tribes, and bona fide private membership clubs that are not labor organizations and are exempt from taxation under the Internal Revenue Code.

  • U.S. Government executive agencies are exempt from the ADA, but these agencies are covered by similar nondiscrimination requirements and have additional affirmative employment requirements under Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

  • The ADA provides an exemption from coverage for any action in ADA compliance that would violate the law of the foreign country where a workplace is located.

ADA Title II: State and Local Government Activities

Title II covers all activities of State and local governments including cities, towns, municipalities, counties, public school districts and other parts of state and local governments, regardless of the government entity's size or receipt of Federal funding. Title I applies to employers with 15 or more employees, but Title II applies to state and local government employers with 1 or more employees. Use ADA Title I regulations to determine nondiscrimination under Title II.

Title II became effective on January 26, 1992 and is divided into two subtitles, A and B.

Subtitle A of Title II is intended to protect qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in the services, programs, or activities of all state and local governments. It extends the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability established by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, to all activities of state and local governments, including those that do not receive Federal financial assistance. By law, the Department of Justice's ADA Title II regulation adopts the general prohibitions of discrimination established under Section 504, and also incorporates specific prohibitions of discrimination from the ADA.

Subtitle B of Title II is intended to clarify the requirements of Section 504 for public transportation entities that receive Federal financial assistance. It also extends coverage to all public entities that provide public transportation, whether or not they receive Federal financial assistance. It establishes detailed and complex standards for the operation of public transit systems, including commuter and intercity rail (AMTRAK). The Department of Transportation is responsible for the implementation of Subtitle B of Title II and has issued the regulations implementing that subtitle.

Title II requires that State and local governments give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services, and activities (e.g. public education, employment, transportation, recreation, health care, social services, courts, voting, and town meetings). The key provisions of Title II are1. Ensure communication with people with disabilities is as effective as communication with others.

2. Provide "auxiliary aids and services" where necessary to ensure that communications is effective unless result would be an undue financial and administrative burden.

3. Make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures that deny equal access to people with disabilities, unless a fundamental alteration in the program would result.

4. Ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from services, programs, and activities because facilities are inaccessible. Make the facility accessible or move the      program.

5. New construction and alterations must be accessible.

State and local governments are required to follow specific architectural standards in the new construction and alteration of their buildings. They also must relocate programs or otherwise provide access in inaccessible older buildings, and communicate effectively with people who have hearing, vision, or speech disabilities. Public entities are not required to take actions that  would result in undue financial and administrative burdens. They are required to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to avoid discrimination, unless they can demonstrate that doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity being provided.

Title II Technical Assistance Manual

This technical assistance manual addresses the requirements of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which applies to the operations of State and local governments. It is one of a series of publications issued by Federal agencies under section 506 of the ADA to assist individuals and entities in understanding their rights and duties under the Act.

This manual is part of a broader program of technical assistance conducted by the Department of Justice to promote voluntary compliance with the requirements not only of title II, but also of title III of the ADA, which applies to public accommodations, commercial facilities, and private entities offering certain examinations and courses.

The purpose of this technical assistance manual is to present the ADA's requirements for State and local governments in a format that will be useful to the widest possible audience. The guidance provided in the Department's regulations and accompanying preambles has been carefully reorganized to provide a focused, systematic description of the ADA's requirements. The manual attempts to avoid an overly legalistic style without sacrificing completeness. In order to promote readability and understanding, the text makes liberal use of questions and answers and illustrations.

The manual is divided into nine major subject matter headings with numerous numbered subheadings. Each numbered heading and subheading is listed in a quick reference table of contents at the beginning of the manual.

ADA Title III: Private Sector

Title III applies to public accommodations and commercial facilities. Public accommodations are businesses and non-profit organizations (private entities) that provide goods and services to the public. Examples include: restaurants, health clubs, private colleges, day care centers, homeless shelters, stores, lawyers’ offices and pharmacies. Key provisions of Title III are: 

1. Ensure communication with people with disabilities is as effective as communication with others.

2. Provide "auxiliary aids and services" where necessary to ensure that communications is effective unless result would be an undue financial and administrative burdens.

3. Make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures that deny equal access to people with disabilities, unless a fundamental alteration in the program would result.

4. Remove physical barriers at inaccessible facilities when "readily achievable." Readily achievable means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."

5. New construction and alterations must be accessible.

    Title III does not apply to airline travel, private residential (apartments, condos, single family housing), or religious organizations. Religious organizations and all their activities, including non-religious activities that are open to the public, are specifically exempted from Title III.  Commercial facilities (factories, warehouses) are only required to comply with the new construction and alteration requirements.

    Title III Technical Assistant Manual

    This technical assistance manual addresses the requirements of title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which applies to public accommodations, commercial facilities, and private entities offering certain examinations and courses. It is one of a series of publications issued by Federal agencies under section 506 of the ADA to assist individuals and entities in understanding their rights and duties under the Act.

    This manual is part of a broader program of technical assistance conducted by the Department of Justice to promote voluntary compliance with the requirements not only of title III, but also of title II of the ADA, which applies to the operations of State and local governments.

    The purpose of this technical assistance manual is to present the ADA's title III requirements in a format that will be useful to the widest possible audience. The guidance provided in the Department's regulations and accompanying preambles has been carefully reorganized to provide a focused, systematic description of the ADA's requirements. The manual attempts to avoid an overly legalistic style without sacrificing completeness. In order to promote readability and understanding, the text makes liberal use of questions and answers and illustrations.

    The manual is divided into nine major subject matter headings with numerous numbered subheadings. Each numbered heading and subheading is listed in a quick reference table of contents at the beginning of the manual. 

    ADA Titles IV and V

    Title IV requires common carriers (telephone companies) to establish interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services (TRS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TRS is a telephone service that allows people with hearing and/or speech disabilities to place and receive telephone calls. Title IV also requires that federally funded public service announcements have closed captioning.  Title IV is enforced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

    Title V addresses miscellaneous items.  Unlike the provisions contained in other titles, which apply only to the titles in which they are located, the Title V provisions apply to all of the other titles as well. Employers, state and local government agencies, and public accommodations covered by other parts of the ADA must also comply with Title V.  The provisions adressed in Title V include:

    • Prohibition against retaliation and coercion.
    • Construction - However, nothing in the ADA is to be construed to apply to a lesser standard than the standards applied under Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, including the Section 504 regulations.
    • Does not preclude or require restrictions on smoking.
    • Does not change the status of insurance underwriting. However, an insurance plan may not refuse to insure or limit coverage or charge a higher amount to a person with a disability solely because of the disability UNLESS the refusal, limitation or difference in cost is based on sound actuarial principles.
    • Requires several federal agencies to develop technical assistance plans to assist covered entities to understand their ADA responsibilities.
    • Encourages the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

    Sections of Title V that do not cross to all titles of the ADA include:

    • Requires a report about the effect that wilderness management has on the ability of individuals with disabilities to use and enjoy federal wilderness areas.
    • Covers Congress and Agencies of the Legislative Branch.

    The Fair Housing Act

    The Fair Housing Act (FHA), as amended in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, and national origin. The FHA applies to a wide range of entities including, but not limited to, property owners, housing managers, homeowners and condominium associations, lenders, and real estate agents.  FHA coverage includes private housing, housing that receives Federal financial assistance, and State and local government housing. It is unlawful to discriminate in any aspect of selling or renting housing or to deny a dwelling to a buyer or renter because of the disability of that individual, an individual associated with the buyer or renter, or an individual who intends to live in the residence. Other covered activities include, for example, financing, zoning practices, new construction design, and advertising.

    The FHA requires owners of housing facilities to make reasonable exceptions in their policies and operations to afford people with disabilities equal housing opportunities. For example, a landlord with a "no pets" policy may be required to grant an exception to this rule and allow an individual who is blind to keep a guide dog in the residence. The FHA also requires landlords to allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable access-related modifications to their private living space, as well as to common use spaces. (The landlord is not required to pay for the changes.) The FHA further requires that new multifamily housing with four or more units be designed and built to allow access for persons with disabilities. Buildings with first occupancy after March 13, 1991 that have four or more dwelling units must comply with the Fair Housing Act design and construction requirements. This includes accessible common use areas, doors that are wide enough for wheelchairs, kitchens and bathrooms that allow a person using a wheelchair to maneuver, and other adaptable features within the units. The requirements do not apply to alterations and rehabilitation.

    Air Carrier Access Act

    The Air Carrier Access Act (ACA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air transportation including flights of U.S. airlines, and flights to or from the United States by foreign airlines. Key provisions of the ACA are:

    1. Assistance boarding, deplaning and making connections.

    2. Treatment and storage of wheelchairs and other mobility aids.

    3. Accessibility in newly built aircraft.

    4. Not require advance notice that a person with a disability is traveling.

    5. Portable oxygen policies.

    6. Allow service animals.

    7. Not require a person with a disability to travel with another person, except in certain limited circumstances where the rule permits the airline to require a safety assistant.

    8. Security screening.
    9. Provide priority seating.

    Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended

    The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was the first federal law to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities. It requires that federally funded programs be accessible to people with disabilities and that federal employers provide reasonable accommodations for their employees with disabilities. Much of the terminology in the Rehabilitation Act was later used in the ADA.The Rehabilitation Act authorizes funding for disability-related activities, including state vocational rehabilitation programs and independent living programs. The anti-discrimination provisions are in Sections 501, 503, 504 and 508 of the Act.

    Rehabilitation Act: Section 501 (Employment)

    Section 501 covers employment in federal executive agencies and the U.S. Postal Service.  Section 501 adopts the standards in the ADA Title I regulations to determine nondiscrimination. Complaints are filed under the Rehabilitation Act, not the ADA. Key provisions of Section 501 are:

    1. Prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment.

    2. Employers may not ask medical or disability related questions of job applicants before a job offer.

    3. Employers must provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would cause “undue hardship” for the employer.

    4. A reasonable accommodation is any change in the work environment or in the way things are usually done to help a person with a disability apply for a job, perform the duties of a job, or enjoy the benefits and privileges of employment.

    5. An employer does not have to provide the exact accommodation the employee or job applicant requests. If more than one accommodation would be effective, the employer may choose which one to provide.

    6. Employers must keep all medical records and disability information confidential and in separate files.

    Rehabilitation Act: Section 503 (Federal Contractors)

    Section 503 applies to employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that exceed $10,000.  Covered employers must:

    1. Take affirmative steps to employ retain, and promote qualified people with disabilities.  The regulations have a 7 percent workforce "utilization goal" for people with disabilities. The goal is not a quota, the goal is a management tool that is intended to inform decision-making and provide accountability.

    2. Include a specific equal opportunity clause in their nonexempt contracts and subcontracts.

    3. Maintain personnel or employment records for a certain period of time.

    4. Section 503 adopts the standards in the ADA Title I regulations to determine nondiscrimination.

    Rehabilitation Act: Section 504 (Fed Assistance)

    Section 504 applies to programs and activities that receive financial assistance from any federal executive department or agency. This pulls in a wide range of organizations such as hospitals, mental health centers, public housing authorities and colleges. Section 504 also applies to federal executive departments, agencies and the U.S. Postal Service. Key provisions are almost identical to ADA Title II requirements because Title II was based on the Section 504 regulations:

    1. Ensure communication with people with disabilities is as effective as communication with others.

    2. Provide "auxiliary aids and services" where necessary to ensure that communications is effective unless result would be an undue financial and administrative burdens.

    3. Make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, and procedures that deny equal access to people with disabilities, unless a fundamental alteration in the program would result.

    4. Ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from services, programs, and activities because facilities are inaccessible.  

    5. New construction and alterations must be accessible.

    Rehabilitation Act: Section 508 (IT)

    Section 508 applies to federal executive agencies and the U.S. Postal Service. Key provisions include:

    1. Electronic and information technology developed, maintained, procured, or used by the federal government must be accessible to people with disabilities.

    2. Electronic and information technology includes software applications and operating systems; web-based intranet and internet information and applications; telecommunications products; video and multimedia products ; self contained, closed products and desktop and portable computers.

    3. The U.S. Access Board develops and maintains the Section 508 Standards concerning the technical and performance criteria necessary to ensure accessibility of electronic and information technology.

    Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)

    On May 21, 2008, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) [R100] was enacted. GINA took effect on November 21, 2009. Title II of GINA prohibits the use of genetic information in making employment decisions, restricts acquisition of genetic information by employers and other entities covered by Title II, and strictly limits the disclosure of genetic information.

    Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act

    The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 generally requires polling places across the United States to be physically accessible to people with disabilities for federal elections. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, a political subdivision must provide an alternate means of casting a ballot on the day of the election. This law also requires states to make available registration and voting aids for disabled and elderly voters, including information by TTYs (also known as TDDs) or similar devices.

    National Voter Registration Act

    The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the "Motor Voter Act," makes it easier for all Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote. One of the basic purposes of the Act is to increase the historically low registration rates of minorities and persons with disabilities that have resulted from discrimination. The Motor Voter Act requires all offices of State-funded programs that are primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities to provide all program applicants with voter registration forms, to assist them in completing the forms, and to transmit completed forms to the appropriate State official. 

    Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act

    The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA) authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to investigate conditions of confinement at State and local government institutions such as prisons, jails, pretrial detention centers, juvenile correctional facilities, publicly operated nursing homes, and institutions for people with psychiatric or developmental disabilities. Its purpose is to allow the Attorney General to uncover and correct widespread deficiencies that seriously jeopardize the health and safety of residents of institutions. The Attorney General does not have authority under CRIPA to investigate isolated incidents or to represent individual institutionalized persons.

    Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (formerly called P.L. 94-142 or the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs.

    IDEA requires public school systems to develop appropriate Individualized Education Programs (IEP's) for each child. The specific special education and related services outlined in each IEP reflect the individualized needs of each student.

    IDEA also mandates that particular procedures be followed in the development of the IEP. Each student's IEP must be developed by a team of knowledgeable persons and must be at least reviewed annually. The team includes the child's teacher; the parents, subject to certain limited exceptions; the child, if determined appropriate; an agency representative who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education; and other individuals at the parents' or agency's discretion.

    If parents disagree with the proposed IEP, they can request a due process hearing and a review from the State educational agency if applicable in that state. They also can appeal the State agency's decision to State or Federal court. For more information, contact:

    Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
    U.S. Department of Education
    400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20202-7100

    ADA Checklist for Polling Places


    This 2016 25-page document is an updated technical assistance publication on polling place accessibility for voters with disabilities. The publication includes information about key areas of a facility that must be accessible to voters with mobility or vision disabilities, options for low-cost temporary measures for removing barriers, and a survey to guide election officials in evaluating the accessibility of facilities used or being considered for use as polling places.

    Part 1 discusses polling place accessibility with a focus on the areas of a facility that may be used as a polling place on Election Day. Part 2 includes a list of the tools election officials will need in order to use the Checklist, some helpful tips on taking measurements and photographs, and a useful list of the most common tools for temporary remedies and the circumstances in which they may be used. Part 3 is the 2016 Checklist.

    ADA Update: A Primer for Small Business

    An 2011 illustrated guide to help small businesses understand the requirements of the 2010 ADA regulations. Businesses that provide goods or services to the public are called "public accommodations" in the ADA. The ADA establishes requirements for 12 categories of public accommodations, which include stores, restaurants, bars, service establishments, theaters, hotels, recreational facilities, private museums and schools, doctors' and dentists' offices, shopping malls, and other businesses. Nearly all types of businesses that serve the public are included in the 12 categories, regardless of the size of the business or the age of their buildings. Businesses covered by the ADA are required to modify their business policies and procedures when necessary to serve customers with disabilities and take steps to communicate effectively with customers with disabilities. The ADA also requires businesses to remove architectural barriers in existing buildings and make sure that newly built or altered facilities are constructed to be accessible to individuals with disabilities. "Grandfather provisions" often found in local building codes do not exempt businesses from their obligations under the ADA. Commercial facilities, such as office buildings, factories, warehouses, or other facilities that do not provide goods or services directly to the public are only subject to the ADA's requirements for new construction and alterations.

    The Americans with Disabilities Act and Other Federal Laws Protecting the Rights of Voters with Disabilities 

    This 7-page document provides guidance to states, local jurisdictions, election officials, poll workers, and voters on how the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws help ensure fairness in the voting process for people with disabilities. (2014)

    Summary

    The laws, regulations and supporting documents shown in this article are a representation of the information available for ADA issues. It is important to be aware of which document applies to different circumstances. It is also important to remember that these are living documents subject to revision.

    Thank you,

    Richard Acree