An Overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Author Robin Akins
- Published December 2, 2023
- Word count 988
The ADA, also known as the Americans with Disabilities Act, became law over three decades ago; in 1990. It is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against anyone with a disability in any area of public life, including private places that are open to the general public, public places, transportation, schools, and jobs.
The aim of this legislation is to make sure that individuals with disabilities get to have the same opportunities and rights as everyone else.
The Americans with Disabilities Act gives civil rights protections to people with disabilities, comparable to those given to people on the basis of religion, age, national origin, sex, color, and race. It ensures that there is equal opportunity for people with disabilities in terms of telecommunications, local government services, state government services, transportation, employment, and public accommodations.
There are five sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which relate to different parts of public life, and we will take a look at them all below.
Tier I: Employment
This has been created to help individuals with disabilities access the same employment benefits and opportunities available to those who do not have a disability.
Employers need to supply reasonable accommodations to qualified employees or applicants. A reasonable accommodation is any alteration or modification to a work environment or job that will enable an employee or applicant with a disability to participate in the job application process or perform critical job functions.
As per the law, unfair treatment, harassment, and discrimination in the workplace by anyone because of genetic information, disability, age, national origin, pregnancy, sex, religion, color, and race are prohibited. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the major agency that enforces compliance with the ADA in this country.
Harassment includes unwelcome conduct based on disability, and can often include the display of offensive pictures or objects, insults, ridicule, physical threats, physical assaults, or offensive jokes. Sexual harassment includes offensive remarks about a person’s sex, requests for sexual favors, uninvited intimate advances, and other physical or verbal harassment of a sexual nature.
It becomes illegal to harass someone when it creates an abusive or hostile work environment, or when the victim gets demoted or fired for refusing to put up with it.
The law also prohibits being denied reasonable workplace accommodations for religious beliefs or disability, as well as retaliation because someone helped with a lawsuit or investigation or complained about job discrimination.
Tier 2: Local and State Government
This part of the Americans with Disabilities Act prevents qualified individuals with disabilities from being discriminated against in all services, activities, and programs of public entities. It applies to all local and state governments, their agencies and departments, and any other instrumentalities or special purpose districts of local or state governments.
This section of the Americans with Disabilities Act clarifies the requirements that fall under the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, Section 504 for public transportation systems that get federal monetary assistance, and coverage is extended to all public entities that prevent public transportation, whether or not federal financial assistance is received. Derailed standards are also established for public transport system operation, including intercity and commuter rail.
Tier 3: Public Accommodations
Now, we move on to the third part of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which is the non-discrimination on the basis of disability by commercial facilities and public accommodations.
As per this title, private places of public accommodation are not allowed to discriminate against a person that has a disability.
Examples of public accommodations include movie theaters, sports stadiums, health clubs, day care centers, private schools, golf courses, doctor’s offices, retail merchants, restaurants, hotels, and any other type of leased, privately-owned, or operated facilities.
This title puts the minimum standards in place for accessibility in terms of new construction and alterations of facilities. It also requires any barriers in existing buildings to be removed by public accommodations. Reasonable modifications are expected, ensuring that businesses make the changes they need so that they are set up to effectively help those with disabilities.
Tier 4: Telecommunications
Next, as per this title, Internet and phone businesses must provide a nationwide system of intrastate and interstate telecommunications relay services that provide people with speech and hearing disabilities the option of communicating over the telephone.
As per this title, federally funded public service announcements must be close-captioned. The Federal Communication Commission regulates this part of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Tier 5: Miscellaneous Provisions
The final tier of the Americans with Disabilities Act is Miscellaneous Provisions, and it has essentially been designed for any sort of issue that does not fall into the categories that we have mentioned above.
The final title features a number of different provisions that relate to the Americans with Disabilities Act as a whole, including the relationships that it has with other laws, attorney’s fees, illegal drug use, the prohibition against coercion and retaliation, the impact on insurance benefits and providers, and state immunity.
This part of the Americans with Disabilities Act also offers a list of specific conditions that are not deemed to be disabilities as per the ADA.
Voting rights for those with disabilities are covered in this part of the law, giving those with disabilities the ability to vote in private without help. They also have the option of being able to vote in an accessible polling place that has voting machines so they can cast their votes.
Polling places must have voting equipment for those who are visually impaired or blind, handrails on the stairs, doorways, and entrances that are at least 32 inches wide, and wheelchair-accessible voting booths.
Final words on the Americans with Disabilities Act
So there you have it: an insight into the Americans with Disabilities Act. We hope that this has given you a better understanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act and what you should expect.
This is an important act that has been implemented to ensure that individuals with disabilities get the opportunities they need and deserve.
Robin Akins is the founder of Cogentica, LLC, a disability advocacy and information site founded in 2015. Dr. Akins is a quantitative psychologist with over 40 years of experience in business, government, and education with substantial teaching experience at the college level. He received his doctorate at Temple University in 1992.
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