The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The lawful structure of the ADA is based upon the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability or have a relationship or association with an individual with a disability. An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.

Parts of ADA

ADA consists of five separate parts or titles:

  • Title 1 relates to employment
  • Title 2 concerns public services
  • Title 3 pertains to public accommodations and commercial facilities
  • Title 4 refers to telecommunications
  • Title 5 covers miscellaneous other items

ADA Title 2: State & Local Government Activities 

Title 2 covers all activities of State and local governments regardless of the government entity's size or receipt of Federal funding. Title 2 requires that State and local governments give people with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from all of their programs, services, and activities (e.g. public education, employment, transportation, and town meetings).

State and local governments are required to follow specific architectural standards in the new construction and alteration of their buildings. They also must relocate programs or otherwise provide access in inaccessible older buildings, and communicate effectively with people who have hearing, vision, or speech disabilities.

Public entities are not required to take actions that would result in undue financial and administrative burdens. They are required to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to avoid discrimination, unless they can demonstrate that doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding ADA Regulations, ADA Information, ADA Standards for Accessible Design, or Technical Assistance Manuals or Technical Assistance Publications, please contact the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section at 1-800-514-0301 (Voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY).

For the ADA home page and updates visit the ADA website.

Other ADA Information