The Americans with Disabilities Act turned 31 years old on July 29. It’s important to remember why the law was enacted and who benefits from it. This article closely looks at the Americans with Disabilities Act and exactly how it benefits citizens with special needs.
Some Basic Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act
This far-reaching federal law ‘levels the playing field’ in many areas. Basically, this Act prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in various areas of their lives. It strives to make sure that people have the same rights and opportunities, whether they are disabled or not.
For an individual with a disability, the Americans with Disabilities Act (or ADA) covers their needs in the following venues:
Title 1 – Employment.
In most cases, employers are not allowed to discriminate against disabled employees. Instead, most employers are required to offer reasonable accommodations to otherwise qualified applicants or employees. However, the requirement for “reasonable accommodations” does consider any hardships placed on the employer.
For example, an applicant might use a wheelchair. Some employers might be unable to accommodate the applicant without extensive renovations. As long as the expense is not a hardship, the employer should accommodate the person’s needs.
Also, this section only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act – Public Services
Public entities like state and local government agencies are prohibited from discriminating against people with disabilities. Such entities are required to evaluate their policies and modify them as necessary. The United States Department of Justice enforces this section of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Title III – Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities
This section of the Americans with Disabilities Act covered public places, even those that are privately owned. The Act specifically mentions:
Hotels, restaurants, retail merchants, doctor’s offices, golf courses, private schools, day care centers, health clubs, sports stadiums, and movie theaters.
But it covers any facility used by the public, whether it is privately owned or leased.
The Act sets minimum standards for accessibility and directs businesses to make “reasonable modifications” when serving or otherwise assisting people with disabilities.
For example, a restaurant might be required to alter bathrooms to include accessible stalls and ramps. Other facilities might need to provide ways to serve people with vision or hearing problems.
Title IV – Telecommunications under the Americans with Disabilities Act
This provision is regulated by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Certain public service announcements must include closed captioning. Also, telephone and internet companies are required to provide networks and services that help people with hearing or speech disabilities.
Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions
This section of the Americans with Disabilities Act covers how the Act works with other laws and how to deal with retaliation, insurance providers, and attorney’s fees.
About the Authors
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Taller have more than 50 years’ experience with Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income matters. For a free consultation, call us at 714-385-8100. Though our office is located in Anaheim, we assist clients throughout Southern California.