ADA Frequently Asked Questions Knowledge Base - State and Local Government

Yes, the ADA definition of disability includes mental, as well as physical, impairments.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What is the definition of disability under the ADA?

FAQ: What does "regarded as" having a disability mean?

According to the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) data, approximately 54 million Americans have a disability.


For additional information, take a look at the following resource:

Fact Sheet: Understanding Disability Statistics

The revised ADA Title II regulations do not require state or local government entities to do a new or updated self-evaluation or transition plan.  However, the Department of Justice urges state or local governments to establish procedures for an ongoing assessment of their compliance with the ADA's obligation to ensure all programs are readily accessible to and usable by people with disabilities (http://www.ada.gov/pcatoolkit/toolkitmain.htm ).  Regularly updating the self-evaluations and transition plans can help government entities monitor their compliance and stay on track with making changes to improve accessibility.

If a state and local government entity has not yet conducted a self-evaluation, it is recommended that they do so to identify any barriers to its programs, activities and services. A self-evaluation helps government entities identify areas of non-compliance and develop specific strategies to bring all policies and practices into compliance. Areas include but are not limited to:

  • structural changes needed to provide access to programs, activities and services;
  • policy modifications to ensure nondiscrimination; and
  • providing public notice that includes (i) explanation of the application of the ADA to the state and local governments programs, activities, and services; (ii) contact information for the employee who is designated to address ADA compliance issues; and (iii) information on the grievance procedure.

The self-evaluation plan should identify strategies to remove barriers, prioritize strategies, and provide a timeline for implementation. As new programs, activities and services are developed, it is important to review facilities to ensure compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards. 


For additional information, take a look at the following resource:

FAQ: What is a self-evaluation?

The ADA is divided into five sections called “titles.” Each title covers a different area. Title I covers employment. Title II covers state and local government programs. Title III covers places of public accommodation. Title IV covers telecommunications. Title V has several miscellaneous provisions that cover things like retaliation and attorney fees.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Actually, what you might have heard called the “new ADA” is really called The ADA Amendments Act – or the ADAAA. After the ADA was originally passed in 1990, cases started being filed and ending up in courts. Some were appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Rulings by the Supreme Court, as well as lower courts, began to narrow the definition of disability. Whether a person had a disability in order to sue became the focus of most disputes under the ADA. Congress never intended for it to be that way. The focus of the ADA was supposed to be on access and accommodation, not on whether the person really had a disability. Congress had not foreseen the ways in which the courts would narrowly interpret, and ultimately change, the definition.

So the ADAAA was passed in 2008 and essentially overturned those Supreme Court cases that narrowed the definition of disability. Congress made clear that the definition must be “construed in favor of broad coverage of individuals” with disabilities. So rather than this being a “new ADA,” it really is just going back to the way Congress meant the ADA to be when it was first written and passed in 1990.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

Fact Sheet: An Employee View of the Changes from the ADA Amendments Act

What is the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. Some parts of the ADA didn’t go into effect until after that date to give entities time to comply with the law, but those compliance deadlines have passed.

Additional information on the history and background on the law is available on the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division website at: https://www.ada.gov/2010_regs.htm.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? 

Timeline of the Americans with Disabilities Act

The ADA is a comprehensive civil rights law. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government programs, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What is the definition of disability under the ADA?

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? 

It is important to remember that in the context of the ADA, “disability” is a legal term rather than a medical one. Because it has a legal definition, the ADA’s definition of disability is different from how disability is defined under some other laws, such as for Social Security Disability related benefits.

The ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability. The ADA also makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person based on that person’s association with a person with a disability.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What does “regarded as” having a disability mean? 

FAQ: What does a “record of” having a disability mean? 

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

Major life activities are those functions that are important to most people’s daily lives. Examples of major life activities are breathing, walking, talking, hearing, seeing, sleeping, caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, and working. Major life activities also include major bodily functions such as immune system functions, normal cell growth, digestive, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, endocrine, and reproductive functions.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What is the definition of disability under the ADA?

FAQ: What does “regarded as” having a disability mean?

“Regarded as” means that the person either:

  • Has an impairment that does not substantially limit a major life activity;
  • Has an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity only as a result of the attitudes of others toward them; or
  • Does not have any impairment, but is treated by an entity as having an impairment.

For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: Can you give me an example of someone who is “regarded as” having a disability? 

FAQ: What are major life activities?

FAQ: Who is protected from employment discrimination?

FAQ: What is the definition of disability under the ADA?

I’ll give you the “lawyer answer” – it depends. All people who meet the ADA definition of disability are covered by the ADA in general, but they still may not have rights under particular sections of the ADA. For example, there is a section of the ADA that deals only with employment discrimination. If a person with a disability is not employed and is not seeking employment, then that person would not necessarily be covered by that part of the ADA, although the person would be covered by other parts of the ADA.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What does "regarded as" having a disability mean?

FAQ: What is the definition of disability under the ADA?

FAQ:  Are alcoholics protected by the ADA?

Instead of providing a list of impairments that would “consistently,” “sometimes,” or “usually not” be disabilities, the regulations provide the ‘nine rules of construction’ to help determine what impairments constitute a disability. By applying those rules, the regulations state there will be some impairments that virtually always constitute a disability. The regulations also provide a list of examples of impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities.  Included in this list of examples are deafness, intellectual disability, autism, epilepsy, diabetes, cancer, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, mobility impairments requiring the use of a wheelchair, post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Sources: EEOC Final Rule Implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and Fact Sheet on the EEOC’s Final Regulations Implementing the ADAAA.   Links to these documents can be found at: http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/regulations/index.cfm.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What is the definition of disability under the ADA?

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

You may ask an individual with a disability to remove a service animal from the premises (facility) if the animal is not housebroken or if the animal is out of control and the individual does not take effective action to control it.  Unwarranted and unprovoked violent behavior, such as uncontrolled barking, growling at other customers, jumping on other people, or running away from the owner are examples of unacceptable behavior.

The owner must use a harness, leash or other tether with his or her service animal unless the individual is unable to do so because of a disability or the use of these would make it difficult or unsafe for the service animal to perform tasks.  When a harness, leash or other tether are not being used, the service animal must be under the owner’s control through voice control, signals, or other effective means. 

If a service animal is removed from the premises, the individual with a disability must still be offered the opportunity to obtain goods, services, and accommodations.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

Service Animal Resource Hub

Service Animal Basics

Service Animals, Small Business, and Other Public Accommodations

FAQ: What are some common misconceptions about service animals?

The miniature horse is not included in the definition of service animal, which is limited to dogs. However, the new ADA regulations contain a specific provision which covers miniature horses.  Businesses must make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of a miniature horse by an individual with a disability if the miniature horse has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of the individual with a disability.  

Factors to assist in determining whether miniature horses can be accommodated are whether:

  • the miniature horse is housebroken
  • the miniature horse is under the owner’s control
  • the facility can accommodate the miniature horse’s type, size, and weight
  • the miniature horse’s presence will not compromise legitimate safety requirements necessary for the safe operation of the facility

For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

Service Animal Basics

Service Animals, Small Business, and Other Public Accommodations

Service Animal Misconceptions

Effective March 15, 2012, the applicable standards for new construction and alterations for either a public entity under Title II or a place of public accommodation under Title III are the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.   The 2010 ADA Standards can be found at: http://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: Where can I find a complete set of ADA standards for accessible design?

On or after March 15th, 2012 all newly constructed or altered facilities must comply with the requirements in the 2010 ADA Standards. If elements in existing facilities already comply with the 1991 ADA Standards and are not being altered, entities are not required to make changes to those elements to bring them into compliance with the 2010 ADA Standards.

For Title II entities, if the start date for construction is on or after March 15, 2012, all newly constructed or altered State and local government facilities must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards.

For businesses that are covered under Title III, the compliance date for the 2010 ADA Standards for new construction and alterations is determined by:

  • the date the last application for a building permit or permit extension is certified to be complete by a State, county, or local government;
  • the date the last application for a building permit or permit extension is received by a State, county, or local government, where the government does not certify the completion of applications; or
  • the start date of physical construction or alteration, if no permit is required.

If that date is on or after March 15, 2012, then new construction and alterations must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards.

Source: http://www.ada.gov/revised_effective_dates-2010.htm.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: Is my building "grandfathered in" under the older 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or do I need to comply with the 2010 ADA Standards?

FAQ: What does the ADA require in new construction?

Fact Sheet: Opening Doors to Everyone

The ADA does not have a provision to "grandfather" a facility but it does have a provision called “safe harbor” in the 2010 ADA regulations for businesses and state and local governments. A "safe harbor" means that you do not have to make modifications to elements in a building that comply with the 1991 ADA Standards, even if the 2010 ADA Standards have different requirements for them. For example the 1991 ADA Standards permitted controls, such as a light switch, to be 54 inches high maximum for a side reach. The 2010 ADA Standards lowered that to 48 inches maximum. If the light switch was installed before March 15, 2012 (the date the 2010 ADA Standards went into effect) it does not need to be lowered to 48 inches. This provision is applied on an element-by-element basis.  However, if you choose to alter elements that were in compliance with the 1991 ADA Standards, the altered elements must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards.

Please note that “safe harbor” does not apply to elements that were NOT addressed in the original 1991 ADA Standards but ARE addressed in the 2010 ADA Standards. These elements include recreation facilities such as swimming pools, play areas, exercise machines, miniature golf facilities, fishing piers, boating facilities, and bowling alleys. Public accommodations must remove architectural barriers to these elements when it is readily achievable to do so. State and local governments must ensure program accessibility at these recreational areas. 


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: Must an employer modify existing facilities to make them accessible?

FAQ: If I am altering or doing an addition to my building, can I still follow the older 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or must I use the new 2010 ADA Standards?

Architectural Accessibility Laws

Beginning on March 15, 2011, under Titles II and III of the ADA, the definition of a service animal is: "A service animal is a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks directly related to the person’s disability." 

Examples of service animal tasks include:

--Guiding a person who is blind.

--Pulling a wheelchair.

--Alerting a person who has a seizure disorder.

--Providing physical support and assistance with balance and stability.

--Assisting persons with psychiatric and neurological disabilities by preventing or interrupting impulsive or destructive behaviors

--Providing a safety check or a room search for a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

An animal that provides only emotional support, comfort, therapy, or crime prevention is not considered a service animal under the ADA. A service animal is a working animal; not a pet. Laws similar to the ADA, as well as local states; counties; and cities, may have different and more broad definitions of "service animal." Check with your local ADA Center.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources: 

Fact Sheet: Service Animals

Service Animal Resource Hub

Service Animal or Emotional Support Animal: What is the Difference?

Private individuals may bring lawsuits asking for court orders to stop discrimination. Individuals may also file complaints with the United States Attorney General, who is authorized to bring lawsuits in cases of general public importance or where a "pattern or practice" of discrimination is alleged. In these cases, the Attorney General may seek monetary damages and civil penalties. Civil penalties may not exceed $55,000 for a first violation or $110,000 for any subsequent violation.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: How can I file an ADA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice?

Federal Agencies and Resources

Yes. Title II prohibits all public entities, regardless of the size of their work force, from discriminating in the employment of individuals with disabilities. 


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: How can I file an ADA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice?

FAQ: How are the ADA’s requirements for State and local governments enforced?

What is the American’s with Disabilities Act?

The ADA does not cover the executive branch of the Federal government. The executive branch continues to be covered by title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination in services and employment on the basis of disability and which is a model for the requirements of the ADA. The ADA, however, does cover Congress and other entities in the legislative branch of the Federal government.


For additional information, take a look at the following resource:

Fact Sheet: An Overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act 

A state or local government must eliminate any eligibility criteria for participation in programs, activities, and services that screen out or tend to screen out persons with disabilities, unless it can establish that the requirements are necessary for the provision of the service, program, or activity. The State or local government may, however, adopt legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation if they are based on real risks, not on stereotypes or generalizations about individuals with disabilities. Finally, a public entity must reasonably modify its policies, practices, or procedures to avoid discrimination. If the public entity can demonstrate that a particular modification would fundamentally alter the nature of its service, program, or activity, it is not required to make that modification.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: Does the ADA apply to State and local governments?

FAQ: When do the requirements for State and local governments become effective?

FAQ: How are the ADA’s requirements for State and local governments enforced?

Appropriate auxiliary aids and services for individuals with hearing loss may include:

  • qualified interpreters on-site or through video remote interpreting (VRI) services;
  • notetakers;
  • real-time computer-aided transcription services;
  • written materials; exchange of written notes;
  • telephone handset amplifiers;
  • assistive listening devices;
  • assistive listening systems;
  • telephones compatible with hearing aids;
  • closed caption decoders;
  • open and closed captioning, including real-time captioning;
  • voice, text, and video-based telecommunications products and systems, including text telephones (TTYs), videophones, and captioned telephones, or equally effective telecommunications devices;
  • videotext displays;
  • accessible electronic and information technology;
  • or other effective methods of making aurally delivered information available to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Appropriate auxiliary aids and services for individuals who are blind or have low vision may include:

  • qualified readers;
  • taped texts;
  • audio recordings;
  • Brailed materials and displays;
  • screen reader software;
  • magnification software;
  • optical readers;
  • secondary auditory programs (SAP);
  • large print materials;
  • accessible electronic and information technology;
  • or other effective methods of making visually delivered materials available to individuals who are blind or have low vision.

For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What funding assistance is available for individuals with disabilities to purchase assistive devices, ramps, etc.?

Fact Sheet: Effective Communication

The Department of Transportation has issued regulations mandating accessible public transit vehicles and facilities. The regulations include requirements that all new fixed-route, public transit buses be accessible and that supplementary paratransit services be provided for those individuals with disabilities who cannot use fixed-route bus service.

49 CFR Part 38 – Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Specifications for Transportation Vehicles
https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/part-38
49 CFR Part 37-Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities (ADA)
https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/49/part-37


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

Traveling with a Service Animal

In general, they became effective on January 26, 1992.  Revised regulations published by the U.S. Department of Justice on September 15, 2010 covering state and local governments, became effective on March 15, 2011.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? 

Timeline of the Americans with Disabilities Act

A wheelchair is a manually operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability for the main purpose of indoor, or of both indoor and outdoor, locomotion.  Individuals with mobility disabilities must be permitted to use wheelchairs and manually powered mobility aids, i.e., walkers, crutches, canes, braces, or other similar devices designed for use by individuals with mobility disabilities, in any areas open to pedestrian traffic.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources: 

Fact Sheet: The ADA & Accessible Ground Transportation

Power Driven Mobility Devices

Fact Sheet: Wheelchairs and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices

[Captioned Video – 1:48 min.]

 

The ADA required the establishment of telephone relay services for individuals who use teletypewriters (TTYs, also known as telecommunications devices for deaf persons or TDDs) or similar devices. The Federal Communications Commission has issued regulations specifying standards for the operation of these services.

 

On October 8, 2010, President Obama signed the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) into law. The CVAA updates federal communications law to increase the access of persons with disabilities to modern communications. The CVAA makes sure that accessibility laws enacted in the 1980s and 1990s are brought up to date with 21st century technologies, including new digital, broadband, and mobile innovations.

21st Century Communications and Accessibility Act (CVAA)

Web Link:  https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/21st-century-communications-and-video-accessibility-act-cvaa.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What kinds of auxiliary aids and services are offered by the ADA to ensure effective communication with individuals with hearing or vision impairments?

Fact Sheet: Effective Communication

Yes. Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in all programs, activities, and services of public entities. It applies to all State and local governments, their departments and agencies, and any other instrumentalities or special purpose districts of State or local governments. This means that not only is a city or state government office covered, but also public schools, community colleges, city police departments, and public libraries. Title II also  clarifies the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for public transportation systems that receive Federal financial assistance, and extends coverage to all public entities that provide public transportation, whether or not they receive Federal financial assistance. It establishes detailed standards for the operation of public transit systems, including commuter and intercity rail (AMTRAK).


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: How does title II affect participation in a State or local government's programs, activities, and services?

ADA Title II Tutorial

Fact Sheet: An Overview of the Americans With Disabilities Act

An OPDMD is any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion, whether or not it was designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities. OPDMDs may include golf cars, electronic personal assistance mobility devices, such as the Segway® Personal Transporter (PT), or any mobility device that is not a wheelchair, which is designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes. Covered entities must make reasonable modifications in their policies, practices, or procedures to permit individuals with mobility disabilities to use OPDMDs unless the entity can demonstrate that the class of OPDMDs cannot be operated in accordance with legitimate safety requirements adopted by the entity.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

Power Driven Mobility Services

Fact Sheet: Wheelchairs and other Power-Driven Mobility Devices

Fact Sheet: The ADA & Accessible Ground Transportation

Individuals may bring lawsuits to enforce their rights under title II and may receive remedies such as reasonable attorney's fees. Individuals may also file complaints with one of eight designated Federal agencies. Complaints may always be filed with the Department of Justice, which will refer the complaint to the appropriate agency.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: How can I file an ADA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice?

Federal Agencies and Resources

[Captioned Video – 1:43 min.]

 

A qualified individual is a person who meets legitimate skill, experience, education, or other requirements of an employment position that s/he holds or seeks, and who can perform the essential functions of the position with or without reasonable accommodation. Requiring the ability to perform "essential" functions assures that an individual with a disability will not be considered unqualified simply because of inability to perform marginal or incidental job functions. If the individual is qualified to perform essential job functions except for limitations caused by a disability, the employer must consider whether the individual could perform these functions with a reasonable accommodation. If a written job description has been prepared in advance of advertising or interviewing applicants for a job, this will be considered as evidence, although not conclusive evidence, of the essential functions of the job.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: Can an employer be required to reallocate an essential function of a job to another employee as a reasonable accommodation?

FAQ: What are “essential functions” of a job?

FAQ: Can an employer maintain existing production/performance standards for an employee with a disability?

[Captioned Video – 1:48 min.]

State and local agencies that provide emergency telephone services must provide "direct access" to individuals who rely on a teletypewriter (TTY, also known as a telecommunication device for deaf persons or TDD) or computer modem for telephone communication. Telephone access through a third party or through a relay service does not satisfy the requirement for direct access. Where a public entity provides 911 telephone service, it may not substitute a separate seven-digit telephone line as the sole means of access to 911 services by nonvoice users. However, a public entity may  provide a separate seven-digit line for the exclusive use of nonvoice callers in addition to providing direct access for such calls to its 911 line.

Examples include the simple ramping of a few steps, the installation of grab bars where only routine reinforcement of the wall is required, the lowering of telephones,  restriping parking lots, and similar modest adjustments.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What is the process to request a reasonable accommodation in employment? 

FAQ: What does the term “readily achievable” mean?

Fact Sheet: Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace

A State or local government will be in compliance with the ADA for new construction and alterations if it follows the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Effective March 15, 2012 the 2010 ADA Standards must be used for new construction and alterations undertaken by state and local governments.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: Where can I find a complete set of ADA standards for accessible design?

Fact Sheet: Overview of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design

The cost of incorporating accessibility features in new construction is less than one percent of construction costs. This is a small price in relation to the economic benefits to be derived from full accessibility in the future, such as increased employment and consumer spending.


For additional information, take a look at the following resource:

FAQ: Where can I find a complete set of ADA standards for accessible design?

Effective March 15, 2012, the ADA requires that all new construction or alterations by a state or local government be accessible as defined by the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

Standards can be found here: https://www.ada.gov/2010ADAstandards_index.htm.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: Where can I find a complete set of ADA standards for accessible design?

Fact Sheet: Open Doors to Everyone

Fact Sheet: Accessible Parking

All alterations that could affect the usability of a facility must be made in an accessible manner to the maximum extent feasible. For example, if during renovations a doorway is being relocated, the new doorway must be wide enough to meet the new construction standard for accessibility.

When alterations are made to a primary function area, such as the lobby of a bank or the dining area of a cafeteria, an accessible path of travel to the altered area must also be provided.

The bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving that area must also be made accessible. These additional accessibility alterations are only required to the extent that the added accessibility costs do not exceed 20% of the cost of the original alteration. Elevators are generally not required in facilities under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping center or mall; the professional office of a health care provider; a terminal, depot, or other public transit station; or an airport passenger terminal.

See the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design for more information regarding alterations: https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: Is my building "grandfathered in" under the older 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or do I need to comply with the 2010 ADA Standards?

FAQ: If I am doing a renovation on a hotel, how many guest rooms need to be accessible?

Fact Sheet: Overview of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design

A self-evaluation is a public entity's assessment of  everything, including its programs, services, and activities; facilities; and current policies, practice and procedures. The self-evaluation identifies and corrects barriers to access that are inconsistent with its title II requirements. All public entities should have completed a self-evaluation by January 26, 1993. A public entity that employs 50 or more employees must retain its self-evaluation for three years. Other public entities are not required to retain their self-evaluations, but are encouraged to do so because these documents support a public entity's good faith efforts to comply with its title II requirements.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

Fact Sheet: ADA Title II and Title III Regulation and Fact Sheet Series

ADA Title II Tutorial

Existing codes remain in effect. The ADA allows the Attorney General to certify that a State law, local building code, or similar ordinance that establishes accessibility requirements meets or exceeds the minimum accessibility requirements for public accommodations and commercial facilities. Any State or local government may apply for certification of its code or ordinance. The Attorney General can certify a code or ordinance only after prior notice and a public hearing at which interested people, including individuals with disabilities, are provided an opportunity to testify against the certification.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: How will a State or local government know that a new building is accessible?

FAQ: What does the ADA require in new construction?

Structural changes needed for program accessibility must be made as expeditiously as possible, and should have been made by January 26, 1995. A public entity that employs 50 or more persons must have developed a transition plan by July 26, 1992, setting forth the steps necessary to complete such changes.


For additional information, take a look at the following resource:

FAQ: What changes must a public entity make to its existing facilities to make them accessible?

Certification can be advantageous if an entity has constructed or altered a facility according to a certified code or ordinance. If someone later brings an enforcement proceeding against the entity, the certification is considered "rebuttable evidence" that the State law or local ordinance meets or exceeds the minimum requirements of the ADA. In other words, the entity can argue that the construction or alteration met the requirements of the ADA because it was done in compliance with the State or local code that had been certified.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: How does the ADA affect existing State and local building codes?

FAQ: Where can I find a complete set of ADA standards for accessible design?

FAQ: What should be applied to a situation when both the local or state code and the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design need to be considered?

A public entity must ensure that individuals with disabilities can participate in its services, programs, and activities. A state or local government's programs, when viewed in their entirety, must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. This standard, known as "program accessibility," applies to all existing facilities of a public entity.

Public entities do not necessarily have to make each of their existing facilities accessible. Program access can be achieved through different methods including alteration of existing facilities, acquisition or construction of additional facilities, relocation of a service or program to an accessible facility, provision of services at alternate accessible sites, or change to a policy or procedure.


For additional information, take a look at the following resources:

FAQ: What are the ADA requirements for altering facilities? 

FAQ: How do the 2010 changes to the ADA Standards for Accessible Design impact parking spaces that already exist?

FAQ: Is my building “grandfathered in” under the old 1991 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or do I need to comply with the 2010 ADA Standards?