State & Local Government Overview
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has an entire title, Title II, devoted to the accessibility of state and local governments. Title II requires that people with disabilities have equal access to state and local government programs, services, and activities. This equal access should allow a person with a disability to engage in civic life just as other members of the community do, recognizing that people with disabilities may need accommodations in order to participate in and benefit from state and local government programs, services, and activities.
The state and local programs, services, and activities covered by Title II occur within a wide range of systems and places that Americans interact with regularly, such as public schools, public libraries, and public transportation. It also includes agencies like a state-run employment agency. And, it includes state parks, emergency shelters, and voting sites—the list goes on and on.
Because a Title II public entity can be so many different things, the laws and regulations for Title II cover a lot of ground. An area that gets a lot questions at the Northeast ADA Center is physical access to buildings and facilities. But Title II is also about policies that have a side-effect of excluding people with certain disabilities—or that intentionally exclude them (these are called policy barriers). An example would be requiring a driver’s license in order to apply for a business license. A third important Title II topic is equally effective communications.
All Title II entities must follow ADA-related administrative requirements. These requirements are a series of steps that an entity can carry out to ensure compliance.
Title II plays an important role in changing the physical environment, policies, and attitudes of state and local governments so equal access is increasingly available to people with disabilities. This makes it possible for more people with disabilities to participate more fully in the full soup-to-nuts of American life that occurs in programs, services, and activities run by state and local governments.