The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America's most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation that prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life -- to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 -- the ADA is an "equal opportunity" law for people with disabilities.
To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.
The Current ADA Regulations
The United States Attorney General has responsibility for publishing regulations implementing the requirements of title II (state and local government services) and title III (public accommodations and commercial facilities) of the ADA. These regulations are codified in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 28 CFR parts 35 (title II) and 36 (title III). The Department’s current ADA regulations can also be found below:
On September 15, 2010 the Department published final regulations revising the Department's ADA regulations, including the adoption of updated ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards). The revised final rules went into effect on March 15, 2011. Compliance with the 2010 Standards was required on March 15, 2012, except that compliance with the requirements in the 2010 Standards with respect to existing swimming pools was subsequently extended to January 31, 2013. (77 FR 30174 (May 21, 2012)).
The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA Amendments Act) made a number of significant changes to the meaning and interpretation of the ADA definition of "disability" to ensure that definition would be broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis. On July 15, 2016, Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed a Final Rule incorporating the requirements of the ADA Amendments Act into the ADA title II and title III regulations. The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on August 11, 2016, and takes effect 60 days from publication, on October 11, 2016.
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 accommodation's obligation to provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services for people with disabilities. The 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.
Title II and Title III Technical Assistance Manuals