Americans With Disabilities Act: Know Your Rights


Over the years, the federal government has enacted several laws and policies requiring that public and private services provide accommodations for individuals with impairments and disabilities. One of the main laws is the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The goal of the ADA is to guarantee equality to every American citizen by making all rights and resources accessible to everyone. While you might already know some of this, make sure you understand your rights and don’t be afraid of reporting to the proper authorities if you feel someone is not properly observing the law. Below is a summary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, followed by a list of other disability rights laws.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The ADA requires private and public organizations to provide equal rights to individuals with disabilities when offering services, accommodations, transportation, telecommunication services, and employment.

Title I: Employment

Title I prohibits employers from discriminating against an individual with disabilities when hiring or providing opportunities for promotions and raises if the individual with disabilities is able to perform the required tasks. An individual should not be paid more than another who has a disability if both perform the same tasks.

Title II: State and Local Government Activities

Title II requires state and local government agencies to ensure that all facilities and services provided, such as health care, recreation, transportation, education, social services, and voting, are available and accessible to individuals with mental or physical impairments.

Title III: Public Accommodations

Title III requires businesses to provide public accommodations and to make those accommodations as accessible and convenient as possible for people with disabilities. Examples of businesses are 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.

Title IV: Telecommunications Relay Services

Title IV requires telephone and television services to provide services to accommodate for those with hearing and speech impairments, such as third party communications assistants for phone calls and close captioning for TV programs.

Other Laws

Beyond the ADA, there many more disability rights laws that get into more detail about specific kinds of services and resources. Some of those laws include the Telecommunications Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Air Carrier Access Act, the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Architectural Barriers Act.

Contact the ADA if you would like more information or to report a violation:

ADA Information Line
(800) 514-0301 (voice)
(800) 514-0383 (TTY)

Image courtesy of National Park Service Graphics and the U.S. Federal Government. The image is in the public domain.