Recently, you may have seen or heard news relating to possible ADA Education and Reform. In February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to amend parts of the ADA. Those for the reform say it will curb greedy lawyers who go after business without intent to help those with disabilities. Critics say it takes away incentives for businesses to be compliant with the ADA without formal complaints being lodged.

No matter which side you fall on (if either side), with all of this in-depth talk of the ADA, it’s important for everyone to know what it is and why it’s important.

What is the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) is a civil rights law that prohibits the discrimination against anyone with a disability in all areas of public life. “All areas of public life” include:

  • Jobs
  • Schools
  • Transportation
  • All Public/Private Places Open To The General Public

The ADA now also includes the ADAAA (2009), which amends areas of the original act.

There are five titles (or sections) that outline how the act applies to different areas of public life.

Title I of the ADA: Employment

It states that employers must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees who have disabilities. The ADA website defines reasonable accommodations as “any modification or adjustment to a job or the work environment that will enable an applicant or employee with a disability to participate in the application process, or to perform essential job functions.”

Title II of the ADA: State and Local Government

This section prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities in all programs, activities, and services of public entities. This would include public transportation services, whether government funded or not, such as AMTRAK.

Title III of the ADA: Public Accommodations

This prohibits discrimination in public or privately owned, rented, or leased places, including (but not limited to):

  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Retail Merchants
  • Doctor’s Offices
  • Golf Courses
  • Private Schools
  • Day Care Facilities
  • Health Clubs/ Gyms
  • Sports Stadiums
  • Movie Theaters

Title IV of the ADA: Telecommunications

Title IV requires all telephone and internet providers to provide a nationwide system of interstate and intrastate relay services for those with hearing and visual disabilities. It also requires the closed captioning of all federally funded public service announcements.

Title V of the ADA: Misc. Provisions

The final section of the act simply lays out different provisions for the act as a whole, such as its relationship to other laws, its impact on insurance providers, attorney’s fees, etc. It also gives a list of certain conditions that are not considered disabilities. 

What Conditions Are Covered By The ADA?

There is no exhaustive list in the act itself, but there are medical conditions that are always considered covered under the current definition of what a disability is:

  • Deafness
  • Blindness
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Epilepsy
  • Intellectual Disabilities
  • Muscular Dystrophy (MS)
  • Autism
  • HIV
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Missing Limbs (Partial or Total)
  • Mobility Impairments Requiring The Use Of A Wheelchair

You may still qualify if you have a condition not on this list that still falls under one of these three pillars:

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • A record of such an impairment; or
  • You are regarded as having such an impairment.

Why is it important to know about the ADA?

Whether or not you have a qualifying disability, it’s important to know the basic rights that the law gives the American people. This becomes even more important if you do have a disability. You cannot ensure that you’re receiving the benefits and rights that you deserve unless you know what they are.

With all of the controversy surrounding the ADA/ADAAA right now, it’s more important than ever to fully understand what you are entitled to as someone covered by the ADA.

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