Q: What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
A: The ADA is the first comprehensive civil rights law that protects people with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability. It was passed almost unanimously by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26, 1990. The ADA protects people with disabilities from discrimination in all aspects of employment, in access to public services such as transportation and state and local government programs and services, and access the goods and services provided by businesses such as restaurants, stores, hotels and other types of businesses such as law offices and medical facilities.
The ADA also requires that the U.S. Access Board issue Standards for Accessible Design (link is external) that provide design criteria for the built environment, transportation, communication, medical diagnostic equipment, and information technology. The ADA has five sections or Titles that cover employment, state and local governments, public accommodations (private businesses, and telecommunications.
Q: Why is the ADA important?
A: In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that 56.7 million people in the United States have one or more disabilities, an increase of 2.2 million since 2005. That’s 19%, or one in every five people living in this country. This number continues to grow as a larger percentage of our population acquire disabilities, often as a result of aging, accidents, or disabilities incurred in combat, as is the case with returning veterans.
Q: What are the Titles of the ADA and how do they differ?
A: The ADA consists of five sections or Titles.
Title I focuses on employment. Title I requires private employers with 15 or more employees to provide qualified individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from the full range of employment-related opportunities available to others. For example, it prohibits discrimination in recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, social activities, and other privileges of employment. It also requires that employers make reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities, unless it results in undue hardship.
Title II covers all activities of state and local governments. Title II requires that state and local governments give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services and activities. Examples of these include public education, employment, transportation, recreation, health care, social services, courts, voting and town meetings. Public entities are required to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to avoid discrimination, until doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program or activity provided. Title II also covers public transportation services, such as city buses and public rail transit (e.g. subways, commuter rails, Amtrak).
Title III focuses on private business (or public accommodations). Title III covers public accommodations: private entities who own, lease, lease to, or operate facilities such as restaurants, retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, private schools, convention centers, doctors’ offices, homeless shelters, transportation depots, zoos, funeral homes, day care centers, and recreation facilities including sports stadiums and fitness clubs. Transportation services provided by private entities are also covered by title III.
Title IV addresses telephone and television access for people with hearing and speech disabilities. It requires common carriers (telephone companies) to establish interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services (TRS) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TRS enables callers with hearing and speech disabilities who use TTYs (also known as TDDs), and callers who use voice telephones to communicate with each other through a third party communications assistant. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set minimum standards for TRS services. Title IV also requires closed captioning of Federally funded public service announcements.
Title V includes miscellaneous provisions, requiring the U.S. Access Board to issue accessibility standards, requiring federal agencies to provide technical assistance, stating specifically that the illegal use of drugs is not a covered disability, and provides that state and local laws that mandate equal or greater protection to individuals with disabilities are not superseded or limited by the ADA.
Q: What is the ADA National Network?
A: The ADA National Network consists of 10 Regional ADA Centers located throughout the United States and the ADA Knowledge Translation Center. The ADA National Network promotes the voluntary implementation of the ADA through technical assistance, training, and information dissemination. Target audiences for ADA National Network services and outreach include individuals with disabilities, businesses, employers, state and local government entities, and educational institutions.
The 10 Regional ADA Centers also provide free and confidential responses to ADA questions received on the ADA hotline: 1-800-949-4232.
Q: What resources are provided by the ADA National Network?
A: Resources available through the ADA National Network include:
- Region-specific ADA information, training and answers to ADA questions
- Web-based training and information
- Webinars, podcasts, live-briefings, audio conferences
- National ADA Symposium
- Regional and state training conferences
- Targeted outreach to individuals with disabilities, business, employers, state and local governments, educational institutions and service providers
- Public outreach and awareness programs
Q: How do I contact the ADA National Network?
A: Contact the ADA National Network with your questions on the ADA by calling 800- 949-4232 (voice/tty). Calls to the ADA information hotline at 1-800-949-4232 (voice/tty) are automatically routed to the ADA National Network Center serving your state. All calls are strictly confidential. Also, visit the ADA National Network website for links to extensive ADA information and training opportunities at www.adata.org.
Q: How can I locate the ADA Center serving my state?
A: You may locate your Regional ADA Center that serves your state at www.adata.org. The 10 Regional ADA National Network Centers are:
- New England ADA Center (Region 1) serves Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont
- Northeast ADA Center (Region 2) serves New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Mid-Atlantic ADA Center (Region 3) serves Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia
- Southeast ADA Center (Region 4) serves Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee
- Great Lakes ADA Center (Region 5) serves Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin
- Southwest ADA Center (Region 6) serves Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas
- Great Plains ADA Center (Region 7) serves Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska
- Rocky Mountain ADA Center (Region 8) serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming
- Pacific ADA Center (Region 9) serves Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and the Pacific Basin
- Northwest ADA Center (Region 10) serves Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington
Q: How can the ADA National Network help businesses?
A: Through the resources it offers, the ADA National Network can help businesses increase their market share with information on meeting the needs of people with disabilities. People with disabilities represent an untapped market for many businesses, and meeting their needs in the marketplace may positively impact a company’s bottom line. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, people with disabilities engage in $175 billion in discretionary spending each year. Implementing the ADA Standards for accessibility can build brand loyalty among customers and also enhance a company’s reputation in local communities and throughout the region and nation.
Q: How can the ADA National Network help employers?
A: The ADA National Network can help employers implement the ADA by providing free, confidential answers to their questions about their responsibilities under the ADA and other Federal mandates, and conducting trainings on-site or via distance learning. The Network also provides information on how businesses may benefit from tax deductions for removing qualified architectural or transportation barriers. The Network also provides information on how smaller employers may benefit from special tax credits to make accommodations for their employees.
Q: How can the ADA National Network help government agencies?
A: The ADA National Network is a valuable resource for ADA coordinators in government entities in municipalities and counties and in state agencies and departments. The Regional ADA National Network Centers can provide a broad range of assistance to ADA coordinators as they ensure that their government entity complies with the requirements of the ADA.
Q: How can the ADA National Network help individuals with disabilities?
A: In addition to responding to questions on the ADA hotline (1-800-949-4232), the ADA National Network’s website at www.ada.org (link is external) provides extensive information and support through its listing of resources, trainings and Webinars; fact sheets and other publications; and online courses. Additionally, Regional ADA National Network Centers and their state outreach affiliates are available to provide assistance on the state and local level.
Q: How is the ADA National Network different from other organizations that help people with disabilities?
A: The ADA National Network is unique in that it is mandated to serve two broad groups of stakeholders: entities that have responsibilities under the ADA and people with disabilities whose civil rights are protected by the ADA.
- ADA National Network staff provide comprehensive information on all titles of the ADA through its nationally recognized toll free hotline at 800-949-4232.
- Services are custom tailored to the needs of the individual, business or agency seeking assistance.
- In operation since 1991, the ADA National Network (originally known as DBTACs or Disability Business Technical Assistance Centers) was the first organization providing ADA information, training and technical assistance nationwide.
- The ADA National Network actively provides outreach to businesses, employers, agencies and individuals.
- The ADA National Network does not enforce the ADA or report noncompliance. The EEOC, Department of Justice, and other federal agencies are responsible for ADA enforcement. Instead, the ADA National Network Centers inform, explain and help individuals, businesses, educational institutions and state and local government agencies expand their knowledge and understanding of the law.
Q: How is the ADA National Network funded?
A: The ADA National Network is funded through five-year grants from the U.S. Department of Education, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.