Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is landmark civil rights legislation that was passed in 1990. The goal of the ADA is to shape American society to include people with disabilities in several key areas, such as employment, state and local government programs and activities, and businesses and nonprofit organizations that are open to the public. The ADA has five titles:

  • Title I covers employment.
  • Title II addresses the programs, services, and activities of state and local government.
  • Title III applies to businesses and nonprofits that are open to the public (the ADA calls these businesses and organizations public accommodations).
  • Title IV established the relay system for telephone access for those who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing.
  • Title V has requirements that apply to the ADA as a whole and how the ADA impacts other laws.

In 2008, Congress strengthened and clarified the ADA with the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA).


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Small Employer Survey Results #5
'Small Employer Survey Results #5'

Graphic shows example comic titled 'What is a Disability?' featuring two coworkers speaking and a caption: 95% of small employers in our survey found this comic format a helpful way to access information on disability.

Comic panel 1: “Small Companies and the ADA.” Coworker 2: 'I just read that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to small companies. But no one here uses a wheelchair or is blind.' Subtitle: The employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act apply to all businesses with fifteen or more employees.

Panel 2: “Disability Under the ADA.” Coworker 1: “Actually, 20% of the American population has a disability. Many disabilities you can’t even see. Conditions like hearing impairments, depression, and cancer may be disabilities under the ADA.” Subtitle: “Under the ADA, if an employee has an ongoing or serious medical/health condition that affects how the body works or the way they do their job, they might have a disability.”

Panel 3: “Covered Employees”. Coworker 2 thinking, “Huh. Tom has a slipped disc. Silvia has low vision, and Mateo deals with anxiety. These could all be disabilities under the ADA.” Subtitle: “In order to benefit from the protections of the ADA, an employee must disclose they have a disability to their employer.”

Source: Chang, H.-Y., von Schrader, S., & Strobel Gower, W. (2019). Small organizations and Title I of the ADA: A survey study in Region 2. Ithaca, NY: Yang-Tan Institute on Employment and Disability.

If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact us at 1-800-949-4232.
Top 5 Historic Moments in Disability Rights
Infographic titled 'Top 5 Historic Moments in Disability Rights' featuring a background with exploding fireworks.

1968 - Architectural Barriers Act passed

1972 - Ed Robert and others establish the first Center for Independent Living

1973 - Rehabilitation Act Section 504 Passed

1988 - Dr. I. King Jordan named first Deaf President of Gallaudet University

1990 - Americans with Disabilities Act passed

If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact us at 1-800-949-4232
Accessible Ballots
'Accessible Ballots'

The voting process must be accessible to all.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, state and local governments must provide auxiliary aids and services to voters with disabilities.

Under the Help America Vote Act, every polling site must have at least one accessible voting machine that offers non-visual access while providing privacy and independence.

If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact us at 1-800-949-4232.
Service Animals Under the Fair Housing Act
Infographic titled 'Service Animals Under the Fair Housing Act' featuring a dog lying on a dog bed and several text boxes.

Service Animals Under the Fair Housing Act:
Requires reasonable accommodation to allow the animal to live with the handler. 
Housing providers cannot charge a pet deposit or other fees.
Housing providers can ask for documentation when a disability is not readily apparent.

If you have any questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact us at 1-800-949-4232
Because of the ADA
Infographic titled 'Because of the ADA.'

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law on July 26, 1990. The ADA is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including access to jobs, schools, transportation, and public and private places that are open to the general public. The law is divided into five titles (or areas) where the various protections for people with disabilities are spelled out. The goal of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

Here are just a few of the positive effects that can be observed today, all because of the ADA.

Are you going out into the community? You can park in an accessible parking space. You can take an accessible bus. You can easily enter stores because of a curb ramp and doors that are accessible. You can navigate through stores along a clear path of travel. Signage at areas like bathrooms is clear and concise with raised characters and Braille. Drinking fountains are accessible. The checkout counter and service counters you encounter are lower and more accessible. You can bring your service animal with you.

Are you going to the movies? theaters offer assisted listening devices to help you hear better.

Are you making a phone call? You can use a relay service to assist you with communication.

Are you going to a concert or sporting event? You have access to wheelchair accessible seats alongside your friends and family.

Are you going to work? You can request a change in how things are typically done from your employer, called a reasonable accommodation, to assist you with work tasks.

Are you going to vote or to a town meeting? Your polling place and municipal programs, offices and meetings must be accessible to you.

Are you going to the Doctor? You can request an interpreter to communicate more efficiently. You can request medical information in a manner that works for you.

Nearly 37 million people in our country have a disability and nearly 25% of today's 20 year olds will experience disability in their lifetime. (ADA National Network, ADA Anniversary Toolkit)

'This Act is powerful in its simplicity. it will ensure that people with disabilities are given the basic guarantees for which they have worked so long and hard. Independence, freedom of choice, control of their own lives, the opportunity to blend fully and equally into the rich mosaic of the American mainstream.' -President George H.W. Bush, ADA Signing Ceremony, July 26, 1990