The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is one of America’s most comprehensive pieces of civil rights legislation. It prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life — to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, the ADA is an “equal opportunity” law for people with disabilities. The ADA also requires more than non-discrimination, in that reasonable accommodation must be provided where appropriate, absent an undue hardship in doing so.
To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered. It also is unlawful to discriminate against an individual who is not disabled, if the discrimination arises due to that person’s relationship with someone who does have a disability. Finally, some states in the U.S. have passed their own disabilities laws, and some of those laws define a disability more broadly than the ADA – California, Washington and New Jersey are examples of such laws.
Resources about The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Americans with Disabilities Act – Text of the law
Guide to Disability Rights Laws – Find out more about the ADA and other laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities
Title II Regulations – The Department of Justice regulations that implement the ADA for state and local governments
Title III Regulations – The Department of Justice regulations that implement the ADA for businesses and non-profit service providers
ADA Technical Assistance Materials – Information about the ADA and how to comply with the law
Department of Justice ADA Responsibilities – The Department’s Disability Rights Section protects the rights of people with disabilities
Federal and ADA Disability Resources – ADA responsibilities of Federal agencies outside of the Department and other resources for people with disabilities