ADA & State Government

Title II of the ADA calls on state and local governments to ensure that qualified individuals with physical and mental disabilities are afforded equal opportunity to participate in those programs, services or activities offered by state and local government.

Title II extends the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of disability established by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, to all programs, services or activities, regardless of whether they receive federal financial assistance.

The requirements of Title II fall into four broad areas:

Included within these four broad categories are access to public schools, the courts, voting, public health programs, libraries, parks and recreational activities, to name a few.

State and local governments are also 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.

Public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail transit (including subways, commuter rails, Amtrak) must be accessible as well. Public transportation authorities follow the requirements for accessibility in newly purchased vehicles, and must make good faith efforts to purchase or lease accessible used buses, and remanufactured buses. 

Also, public transportation authorities are required to provide complementary paratransit where they operate fixed-route bus or rail systems. Paratransit is a service where individuals who are unable to use the regular transit system independently (because of a physical or mental impairment) are picked up and dropped off at their destinations.