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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 (public entities).
  • Title III applies to businesses and nonprofits that are open to the public (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).

[ Read: ADA Overview ]


  • How to File a Complaint
    If you feel that the ADA, or a related law, is not being followed, you can file a complaint. This article helps you figure out where to report the problem.
  • What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
    The ADA defines disability and has five titles (sections) that forbid a wide range of discrimination.
  • The ADA and Employers
    This article explains essential employment-related terms and concepts in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act.
  • The ADA and Parking
    Accessible parking is a common feature in parking lots—and a common topic in questions posed on the Northeast ADA Center hotline.
  • The Spirit of the ADA and Your Business
    If you are merely complying with the ADA to meet a legal requirement, you’re missing the true purpose—or spirit—of the ADA.

Ask About The ADA

  • What about Covid 19?
    Q. What COVID-19 resources do you recommend? A. First, let’s acknowledge that coping with COVID-19 can be very difficult, and we hope you’re doing okay with whatever challenges brought yo...
  • Nonprofits and Religious Entities
    Q: I am trying to find out if a 501(c)(3) is a “religious entity” for ADA purposes (i.e., accommodations in a day care). I am having no luck. Is there a place to look  on tax forms or...
  • Can I call the ADA?
    The ADA is not an agency, organization or a service provider. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including j...
  • Does the ADA apply to all apartments and condominiums?
    The ADA does not always apply to apartments and condominiums. In terms of housing, Title II entities (state and local government) have an obligation under the ADA to provide access and services in an...
  • Does the ADA apply to websites?
    Yes, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to websites for Title II and Title III. Title II covers state and local government and their related entities while Title III addresses public ac...


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 Share on Facebook
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. Share on Facebook
ADA: Title V - Miscellaneous Provisions
'ADA: Title V - Miscellaneous Provisions'
Title V of the ADA gathers together a number of additional provisions of the ADA including:
- Prohibitions against retaliation for those that exercise their rights
- Clarification that the ADA does not override federal, state or local laws that provide equal or greater protections
- Provision of technical assistance to those who have rights or responsibilities under the ADA
- Creation and maintenance of accessible design standards
- Authorizing the use of settlement agreements and similar alternative means of dispute resolution
If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact us at 1-800-949-4232 Share on Facebook
Aging and the ADA
Infographic titled 'Aging and the ADA' featuring a senior couple in a movie theater.
The ADA benefits older people too!
How does the ADA Help?
Easy and safe parking. No more heavy doors. Ways to hear better at shows. Wide entrances and aisles. Easier access to information.

If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact the Northeast ADA Center at 1-800-949-4232 Share on Facebook
Important ADA Activists: Justin Dart Jr.
Infographic titled ‘Important ADA Activists: Justin Dart, Jr.’
 Father of the ADA.
 ‘Civil rights are not a guarantee of the good life, but an equal opportunity and responsibility to participate in producing the good life for oneself and for all. Government alone cannot implement ADA; this is a responsibility of all Americans…’
 Image source:
 Quote source:
 If you have questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact us at 1-800-949-4232 Share on Facebook

Blog Posts


  • ADA: 101.1 Defining Disability
    03/26/2021- This presentation builds on the introduction to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) given in the webinar, ADA-101. Intended for those new to the ADA or for those wanting a refresher, this webina...
  • Access to Voting
    09/25/2019- Participating in the electoral process is a fundamental right in the United States. Voters with disabilities should have equal access and an equal opportunity to exercise this right. Join the Northeas...
  • Service Animal Scenarios
    03/27/2019- Chris Sweet, Northeast ADA Technical Assistance and Outreach Specialist, will present Service Animal Scenarios. Service animals often appear in popular media as a topic of contention as airlines, sto...
  • ADA Shopping Season
    11/14/2018-  Shopping Season is Upon Us! Best Practices for Serving Customers with Disabilities   Join us to review both ADA requirements, and best practices, for retail establishments that help to en...
  • Accommodations for Healthcare in the Workplace
    09/26/2018-  When people think of accommodations in a health care environment, they often think of patients and visitors. However, health care professionals also have disabilities and may require a reasonabl...