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FAQ Regarding The ADA
DISCLAIMER: The provision of this resource information is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement on the part of the State ADA Coordinator’s Office.
What is the purpose of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
Barriers to employment, transportation, public accommodations, public services, and telecommunications have imposed staggering economic and social costs on American society and have undermined our well-intentioned efforts to educate, rehabilitate, and employ individuals with disabilities. By breaking down these barriers, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enables society to benefit from the skills and talents of individuals with disabilities, allows us all to gain from their increased purchasing power and ability to use it, and will lead to fuller, more productive lives for all Americans.
The Americans with Disabilities Act gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications.
Does the ADA apply to State and local governments?
Yes, Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in all programs, activities, and services of public entities. It applies to all State and local governments, their departments and agencies, and any other instrumentalities or special purpose districts of State or local governments. It clarifies the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for public transportation systems that receive Federal financial assistance, and extends coverage to all public entities that provide public transportation, whether or not they receive Federal financial assistance. It establishes detailed standards for the operation of public transit systems, including commuter and intercity rail (AMTRAK). http://www.ada.gov/ada_title_II.htm.
Who is a "qualified individual with a disability"?
For purposes of determining participation in the services, programs and activities offered by a public entity, an individual is qualified if s/he meets the essential eligibility requirements with or without:
- Reasonable modifications to rules, policies or practices;
- Auxiliary aids and services; or
- Removal of architectural, communications or transportation barriers
For purposes of employment, an individual is qualified if they meet legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the "essential functions" of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Requiring the ability to perform "essential" functions assures that an individual with a disability will not be considered unqualified simply because of inability to perform marginal or incidental job functions. If the individual is qualified to perform essential job functions except for limitations caused by a disability, the employer must consider whether the individual could perform these functions with a reasonable accommodation. If a written job description has been prepared in advance of advertising or interviewing applicants for a job, this will be considered as evidence, although not conclusive evidence, of the essential functions of the job. https://www.ada.gov/pubs/adastatute08.htm
What is "reasonable accommodation?"
Reasonable accommodation is any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable a qualified applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process or to perform essential job functions. Reasonable accommodation also includes adjustments to assure that a qualified individual with a disability has rights and privileges in employment equal to those of employees without disabilities. https://www.ada.gov/taman2.html
When is an employer required to make a reasonable accommodation?
An employer is only required to accommodate a "known" disability of a qualified applicant or employee. The requirement generally will be triggered by a request from an individual with a disability, who frequently will be able to suggest an appropriate accommodation. Accommodations must be made on an individual basis, because the nature and extent of a disabling condition and the requirements of a job will vary in each case. If the individual does not request an accommodation, the employer is not obligated to provide one except where an individual's known disability impairs his/her ability to know of, or effectively communicate a need for, an accommodation that is obvious to the employer. If a person with a disability request, but cannot suggest, an appropriate accommodation, the employer and the individual should work together to identify one. There are also many public and private resources that can provide assistance without cost.
When did the requirements for State and local governments become effective?
In general, they became effective on January 26, 1992.
When must structural changes be made to attain program accessibility?
Structural changes needed for program accessibility must be made as expeditiously as possible, but no later than January 26, 1995. This three-year time period is not a grace period; all alterations must be accomplished as expeditiously as possible. A public entity that employs 50 or more persons must have developed a transition plan by July 26, 1992, setting forth the steps necessary to complete such changes.
What changes must a public entity make to its existing facilities to make them accessible?
A public entity must ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from services, programs, and activities because existing buildings are inaccessible. A State or local government's programs, when viewed in their entirety, must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. This standard, known as "program accessibility," applies to facilities of a public entity that existed on January 26, 1992. Public entities do not necessarily have to make each of their existing facilities accessible. They may provide program accessibility by a number of methods including alteration of existing facilities, acquisition or construction of additional facilities, relocation of a service or program to an accessible facility, or provision of services at alternate accessible sites. https://www.ada.gov/taman2.html%23II-5.0000
How do I file a disability-related complaint?
To file a Title II (public entity) disability complaint, you can complete a complaint form with the Department of Justice, Disability Rights Division, Disability Rights Section at their website address http://www.ada.gov/fact_on_complaint.htm.
E-mails to the Department of Justice can be sent to AskDOJ@usdoj.gov, or you may contact their office by phone at 202-307-2227.
If your complaint is regarding an employment matter, you may also contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Atlanta Local Office at their website address https://www.eeoc.gov/field-office/atlanta/location, 1-800-669-4000 (Phone), 404-562-6909 (FAX), 1-800-669-6820 (TTY), or 1-844-234-5122 ASL Video Phone or their Savannah Local Office at their website address https://www.eeoc.gov/field-office/savannah/location, 1-800-669-4000 (Phone), 912-920-4484 (FAX),1-800-669-6820 (TTY), or 844-234-5122 ASL Video Phone.