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Americans with Disabilities Act

The landmark legislation was signed in 1990. Scroll down to see a video of the original signing, details of the law, the news of the 2010 20th anniversary, some in-depth website links, and videos from the 20th Anniversary Celebration in Boston.

July 26, 1990 Signing the ADA



The Americans with Disabilities Act

Employment (Title I)

Business must provide reasonable accommodations to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in all aspects of employment. This may include changes such as restructuring jobs, redesigning or altering the layout of workstations, or modifying/adapting equipment. Employment aspects may include the application process, hiring, wages, benefits, and all other aspects of employment. Medical examinations are highly regulated. Title I complaints must be filed with the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the date of discrimination, or 300 days if the charge is filed with a designated state or local fair employment practice agency. Individuals may file a lawsuit in federal court only after they receive a "right-to-sue" letter from the EEOC.

Public Services (Title II)

Public transportation systems, such as public transit buses, must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Public services, which include state and local government instrumentalities, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, and other commuter authorities, cannot deny services to people with disabilities participation in programs or activities which are available to people without disabilities. Complaints of Title II violations may be filed with the U.S. Department of Justice within 180 days of the date of discrimination. The Department may bring a lawsuit where it has investigated a matter and has been unable to resolve violations. Title II may also be enforced through private lawsuits in federal court. It is not necessary to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) or any other federal agency, or to receive a "right-to-sue" letter, before going to court.

Public Accommodations (Title III)

All new construction and modifications must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. For existing facilities, barriers to services must be removed if readily achievable. Public accommodations include facilities such as restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, retail stores, etc., as well as privately owned transportation systems. Complaints of Title III violations may be filed with the Department of Justice. The Department is authorized to bring a lawsuit where there is a pattern or practice of discrimination in violation of Title III, or where an act of discrimination raises an issue of general public importance. Title III may also be enforced through private lawsuits. It is not necessary to file a complaint with the Department of Justice (or any Federal agency), or to receive a "right-to-sue" letter, before going to court.

Telecommunications (Title IV)

Telecommunications companies offering telephone service to the general public must have telephone relay service to individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TTYs) or similar devices.

Miscellaneous (Title V)

Includes a provision prohibiting either (a) coercing or threatening or (b) retaliating against the disabled or those attempting to aid people with disabilities in asserting their rights under the ADA. Defined as "disabled" if he or she meets at The ADA's protection applies primarily to "disabled" individuals. An individual is least any one of the following tests: He or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of his/her major life activities; He or she has a record of such an impairment; or he or she is regarded as having such an impairment. Other individuals who are protected in certain circumstances include 1) those, such as parents, who have an association with an individual known to have a disability, and 2) those who are coerced or subjected to retaliation for assisting people with disabilities in asserting their rights under the ADA. While the employment provisions of the ADA apply to employers of fifteen employees or more, its public accommodations provisions apply to all sizes of business, regardless of number of employees. State and local governments are covered regardless of size.

Resource Links

ADA Basic Building Blocks Course is an online introduction offered by the ADA National Network.History of the ADA

2015 ADA Anniversary News - 25 Years Later

Ed Carr drives us to Boston



Filming some participantsMarch on the Boston Common


Chain made by youthsMarch on the Boston Common

2010 ADA Anniversary News - 20 Years Later

John Hockenberry and Karen Sullivan of BCIL lead the ADA Anniversary march

Keolise and Deval Patrick at the ADA Anniversary Marchers smile and chant at the ADA Anniversary









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