The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA 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. The ADA is divided into five titles (or sections) that relate to different areas of public life.
In 2008, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) was signed into law and became effective on January 1, 2009. The ADAAA made a number of significant changes to the definition of “disability.” The changes in the definition of disability in the ADAAA apply to all titles of the ADA, including Title I (employment practices of private employers with 15 or more employees, state and local governments, employment agencies, labor unions, agents of the employer and joint management labor committees); Title II (programs and activities of state and local government entities); and Title III (private entities that are considered places of public accommodation).
5 Titles of the ADA
Title I: Equal Employment Opportunity for individuals with disabilities
This title is designed to remove barriers that would deny qualified individuals with disabilities access to the same employment opportunities and benefits available to others without disabilities. Employers must reasonably accommodate the disabilities of qualified applicants or employees, unless an undue hardship would result.
Title II: Nondiscrimination on the basis of disability in State and Local Government Services
This title prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities. The public entity is required to provide access to programs, services and activities provided by the state or local government, when viewed in their entirety.
Title III: Nondiscrimination on the basis of disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities
This title prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by private entities in places of public accommodation. Examples include hotels, restaurants, golf courses, private schools, day care centers, health clubs, etc.
Title IV: Telecommunications
This title requires telephone companies to have developed interstate and intrastate telephone relay services in every state.
Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions
The final title contains a variety of provisions relating to the ADA as a whole, including its relationship to other laws and its impact on insurance providers and benefits.