ADA Frequently Asked Questions Knowledge Base - People with Disabilities

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?

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?

For example, if I do not have a disability, but I work in an HIV clinic, it would not be legal for someone to discriminate against me based on the fact that I work with, or “associate” with, people who have HIV.


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?

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)?

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)? 

Both public and private colleges and universities must provide equal access to postsecondary education for students with disabilities. Title II of the ADA covers publicly-funded universities, community colleges and vocational schools. Title III of the ADA covers privately-funded schools.  All public or private schools that receive federal funding are required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to make their programs accessible to students with disabilities.

All the programs of postsecondary institutions, including extracurricular activities, must be accessible to students with disabilities. The schools can do this in several ways: by providing architectural access to buildings, including residential facilities; by providing aids and services necessary for effective communication, like sign language interpreters, Braille or electronic formats and assistive listening devices; and by modifying policies, practices and procedures, such as testing accommodations and access to school facilities for service animals.  Accommodations and program modifications should be individually designed to meet the needs of the student with a disability.

Accommodations and modifications of policies and practices are not required when it would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity or give rise to an undue financial or administrative burden.

Postsecondary institutions often have an office that coordinates accommodations for students with disabilities.  The student should notify the appropriate institutional office well in advance of the needed modification or accommodation.  Technical guidance is available through the ADA National Network at 1-800-949-4232. For more information please visit:


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

Fact Sheet: Postsecondary Institutions and Students with Disabilities

Taking a Service Animal to School

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

“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?

An employee with a disability who has been granted medical leave under the ADA may return to the same job unless the employer demonstrates that holding the job open would cause undue hardship to the business or organization.  If an employer has the reasonable belief that an employee will be unable to continue performing essential job functions, or will pose a significant risk to the health or safety of him/herself or other employees due to a medical condition, the employer may make disability-related inquiries or require the employee to have a medical examination. Any inquiry or examination must be limited to what is needed to assess the employee's ability to work. The employer may not use the employee's leave as a justification for making unrelated inquiries or requiring an unrelated medical examination.

An employee may have also been granted medical leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). In this case, an employee has a right to return to the same or similar job after his/her leave has expired.  The FMLA allows employers to require a return-to-work certification from a health provider for all medical leaves, as long as the same requirement is applied to all employees with similar job positions who are returning from leave, not just those on FMLA leave.

The FMLA and the ADA both require a covered employer to grant medical leave to an employee in certain circumstances. For more information go to: http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/fmlaada.html


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

FAQ: What is considered an “undue hardship” for a reasonable accommodation?

Fact Sheet: Work-leave, the ADA, and the FMLA

Medicare, Medicaid, private health or disability insurance, and Worker’s Compensation may pay for some assistive technology. Funding sources often require a statement of medical necessity for the product or equipment and a prescription from a doctor or other health professional. Public educational institutions may have funding for assistive technologies needed to meet educational goals.  State vocational rehabilitation agencies may provide assistive technology for their clients when it is needed to achieve vocational goals.  Many states have programs to provide adaptive telecommunications equipment for deaf and hard of hearing individuals and others who need adaptive equipment for telecommunications.  For more information about funding assistive technology, contact your state’s Assistive Technology Act Program.  A list of these programs can be found at https://www.at3center.net/stateprogram.

For home modifications, such as installing ramps or renovating bathrooms, funds may be available through vocational rehabilitation agencies, local independent living centers, and local volunteer organizations that offer labor or materials for construction.  To find contact information for your local center for independent living visit http://www.ilru.org/.

Veterans with disabilities may receive assistance for improvements necessary to make a home and essential lavatory and sanitary facilities accessible under the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) program. A HISA grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is available to Veterans who have received a medical determination indicating that improvements and structural alterations are necessary or appropriate for the effective treatment of his/her disability. The HISA program is available for both service-connected Veterans and non-service-connected Veterans.

Home improvement benefits up to $6,800 may be provided for a:

  • service-connected condition
  • non-service-connected condition of a Veteran rated 50 percent or more service-connected

Home improvement benefits up to $2,000 may be provided to all other Veterans registered in the VA health care system. The prosthetics department of the VA may also donate lifting equipment such as chairlifts or vertical porch lifts.  To learn more about the program, visit http://www.prosthetics.va.gov/HISA2.asp.


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

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

FAQ: Does the ADA cover private apartments and private homes?

Not necessarily. Because Title I is about employment, a person must meet the definition of disability and must also be qualified for the job. There are two components to being qualified. First, you need to have the skill, experience, education, and other job-related requirements for the position. For example, it’s legal for an employer to require that a person applying for the job of a foreign language translator be able to translate a foreign language.

The other component of being qualified, in terms of employment, is that you must be able to perform the essential functions of the job, with or without reasonable accommodation. In other words, getting a reasonable accommodation could make you qualified for the job. For example, a person who is deaf may be qualified to the perform the essential functions of a customer service representative once s/he receives the opportunity to use a video relay service and specialized computer software as a reasonable accommodation.


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

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

Fact Sheet: Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace

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 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)?

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

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?

Sure. A man, who is in line for a promotion, has a history of cancer treatment, although his cancer is in remission. He is not given the promotion because his bosses are worried that, if his cancer returns, he won’t be able to do the job. He does not, at this point, meet the first part of the definition of disability because he does not have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. However, based on his “record of” a disability, he is being discriminated against.


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

Fact Sheet: What is the definition of disability under the 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

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), when an individual decides to request an accommodation, the individual or his/her representative must let the employer know that s/he needs an adjustment or change at work for a reason related to a medical condition. There is no need to mention the ADA or use the phrase “reasonable accommodation.”

Requests for reasonable accommodation do not have to be in writing and can be requested in a face-to-face conversation or using any other method of communication. Employers may choose to write a memo or letter confirming the employee’s request or may ask the employee to fill out a form or submit the request in written form.  However, the employee may want to put the request in writing even if the employer does not require it. Sometimes it is useful to have a paper trail in case there is a dispute about whether or when the accommodation was requested.

Example A: An employee tells her supervisor, "I'm having trouble getting to work at my scheduled starting time because of medical treatments I'm undergoing." This is a request for a reasonable accommodation.

Example B: A new employee, who uses a wheelchair, informs the employer that her wheelchair cannot fit under the desk in her office. This is a request for reasonable accommodation.

Incorrect Example C: An employee tells his supervisor that he would like a new chair because his present one is uncomfortable. Although this is a request for a change at work, his statement is insufficient to put the employer on notice that he is requesting reasonable accommodation. He does not link his need for the new chair with a medical condition.

While an employer cannot ignore the initial request, this request does not necessarily mean that the employer is required to provide the change. A request for reasonable accommodation is the first step in an informal, interactive process between the employee and the employer. In some instances, before addressing the merits of the accommodation request, the employer needs to determine if the individual's medical condition meets the ADA definition of "disability," a prerequisite for the individual to be entitled to a reasonable accommodation.


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

FAQ: What are the limitations on the obligation to make a reasonable accommodation?

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

FAQ: How is the term “readily achievable” determined in a multi site business?

FAQ: When barrier removal is not readily achievable, what kinds of alternative steps are required by the ADA?

Fact Sheet: Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace

Fact Sheet: Small Business and ADA Readily Achievable Requirements

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

You can file an ADA complaint alleging disability discrimination against a state or local government (Title II) or a public accommodation (Title III - including, for example, a restaurant, doctor's office, retail store, hotel, etc.) online, by mail, or fax.

Online Complaint Form for Titles II and III (fill out and submit through website)

Title II State and Local Government Complaint Form (print and mail or fax)

Title III Public Accommodation Complaint Information (mail or fax a letter)

Include the following:

  • Your name, address, email, the telephone number. The name of the party discriminated against (if other than you).
  • The name and address of the business, organization, institution, or person that you believe has discriminated.
  • A brief description of the acts of discrimination, the dates they occurred, and the names of individuals involved in known.
  • Other information that you believe necessary to support your complaint. Please send copies of relevant documents. Do not send original documents. (Retain them.)
  • How to communicate with you effectively; for example if you want written communications in a specific format (e.g., large print, Braille, e-mail, or other electronic documents) or require communications by video phone or TTY.

Email:                        

Send your complaint to the following e-mail address: ada.complaint@usdoj.gov.
Fax: (202) 307-1197

Mail:

To file a complaint using by mail, send your complaint form to the following address:
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section – 1425 NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530


 If you are unable to write because of your disability and are unable to submit a complaint online, by mail, or fax, the Department can assist you by scribing your complaint by phone or, for individuals who communicate by American Sign Language, by videophone. Contact the ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 (voice) or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY) to schedule an appointment.  It may take two weeks or more for Department staff to contact you.

Please note that Title I employment complaints should be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the agency responsible for enforcing state laws against employment discrimination.  The EEOC process for filing a charge of employment discrimination may be found at: www.eeoc.gov/employees/howtofile.cfm

Source: Frequently Asked Questions about Filing an ADA Complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice http://www.ada.gov/fact_on_complaint.htm


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

Federal Agencies and Resources

Federal ADA Regulations and Standards

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)?

The Regional ADA Centers do not provide direct attorney referrals.  The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP).  There is a P&A/CAP agency in every state and U.S. territory as well as one serving the Native American population in the four corners region.  Collectively, the P&A/CAP network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.  To find your local Protection and Advocacy agency and Client Assistance Program in each state, go to - http://www.ndrn.org/en/ndrn-member-agencies.html

Your state or local bar association may also provide a good starting point in the search for legal advice or representation.  To find your local bar association, go to https://www.americanbar.org/ , or call 1-800-285-2221


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

Federal Agencies and Resources

Online Form for Training Requests

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?

The ADA requires that employers post a notice describing the provisions of the ADA. It must be made accessible, as needed, to individuals with disabilities. A poster is available from EEOC summarizing the requirements of the ADA and other Federal legal requirements for nondiscrimination for which EEOC has enforcement responsibility. EEOC also provides guidance on making this information available in accessible formats for people with disabilities.


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

FAQ: Does the ADA require that an applicant or employee with a disability be qualified for the position?

Fact Sheet: Reasonable Accomodations in the Workplace

EEOC has developed several resources to help employers and people with disabilities understand and comply with the employment provisions of the ADA. These resources are all available online.

Resources include:

 A Technical Assistance Manual that provides "how-to" guidance on the employment provisions of the ADA as well as a resource directory to help individuals find specific information.

 A variety of brochures, books.

 A phone line with specialists at EEOC headquarters to answer questions and availability of local field offices

Complaints regarding alleged disability discrimination in the workplace that occurred on or after July 26, 1992 may be filed with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or designated State human rights agencies. Available remedies may include hiring, reinstatement, promotion, back pay, front pay, restored benefits, reasonable accommodations, attorneys' fees, expert witness fees, and court costs. Compensatory and punitive damages also may be available in cases of intentional discrimination or where an employer fails to make a good faith effort to provide a reasonable accommodation.  A charge must be filed within 180 calendar days from the date that the alleged discrimination took place. The 180 calendar day filing deadline is extended to 300 calendar days if a state or local agency enforces a law that prohibits employment discrimination on the same basis. A state’s designated human rights agency should be consulted to determine if the extended filing deadline applies. Your regional ADA Center can assist you in finding your state human rights agency.


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

Fact Sheet: ADANN Services

Federal Agencies and Resources

Employment discrimination is prohibited against individuals with disabilities. This includes applicants for employment and employees. An individual is considered to have a "disability" if s/he has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, has a record of such an impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment. Persons discriminated against because they have a known association or relationship with an individual with a disability also are protected.

The first part of the definition makes clear that the ADA applies to persons who have impairments and that these must substantially limit major life activities.  There are two non-exhaustive lists of examples of major life activities: caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, seeing, hearing, eating, sleeping, walking, standing, sitting, reaching, lifting, bending, speaking, breathing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, interacting with others, and working.

Major life activities also include the operation of major bodily functions, including functions of the immune system, special sense organs and skin, normal cell growth, digestive, genitourinary, bowel, bladder, neurological, brain, respiratory, circulatory, cardiovascular, endocrine, hemic, lymphatic, musculoskeletal, and reproductive functions.

Examples of specific impairments that should easily be concluded to be disabilities include: deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, partially or completely missing limbs, mobility impairments, autism, cancer, cerebral palsy, diabetes, epilepsy, HIV infection, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.

The second part of the definition protecting individuals with a record of a disability would cover, for example, a person who has recovered from cancer or mental illness.

Under the third part of the definition, a covered entity has regarded an individual as having a disability if it takes an action prohibited by the ADA (e.g., failure to hire, termination, or demotion) based on an individual’s impairment or on an impairment the covered entity believes the individual has, unless the impairment is transitory (lasting or expected to last for six months or less) and minor.


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

FAQ: What is the definition of disability under ADA?

FAQ: What are major life activities?

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

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

FAQ: What is discrimination based on "relationship or association" under the ADA?

[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?

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

No. An employer is free to select the most qualified applicant available and to make decisions based on reasons unrelated to a disability. For example, suppose two persons apply for a job as a typist and an essential function of the job is to type 75 words per minute accurately. One applicant, an individual with a disability, who is provided with a reasonable accommodation for a typing test, types 50 words per minute; the other applicant who has no disability accurately types 75 words per minute. The employer can hire the applicant with the higher typing speed, if typing speed is needed for successful performance of the job.


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

FAQ: Does the ADA require that an applicant or employee with a disability be qualified for the position? 

Fact Sheet: Reasonable Accommodations in the Workplace

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

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

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

Discrimination by air carriers in areas other than employment is not covered by the ADA but rather by the Air Carrier Access Act (49 U.S.C. 1374 (c)).


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

Passengers with Disabilities – About the Air Carriers Access Act Source: U. S. Department of Transportation

Air Carrier Accscess Act

Flying with a Service Animal

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?

The ADA public accommodations provisions permit an individual to allege discrimination based on a reasonable belief that discrimination is about to occur. This provision, for example, allows a person who uses a wheelchair to challenge the planned construction of a new place of public accommodation, such as a shopping mall, that would not be accessible to individuals who use wheelchairs. The resolution of such challenges prior to the construction of an inaccessible facility would enable any necessary remedial measures to be incorporated in the building at the planning stage, when such changes would be relatively inexpensive.


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

FAQ: Who is protected from employment discrimination?

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

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

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

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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

Alternatives may include such measures as in-store assistance for removing articles from inaccessible shelves, home delivery of groceries, or coming to the door to receive or return dry cleaning.


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

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

FAQ: How is “readily achievable” determined in a multi site business?

FAQ: What funding assistance is available for removing barriers and accommodating customers with disabilities?

Fact Sheet: Small Business and ADA Readily Achievable Requirements

Possibly. For example, restaurants may need to rearrange tables and department stores may need to adjust their layout of racks and shelves in order to permit access to wheelchair users.


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

FAQ: When barrier removal is not readily achievable, what kinds of alternative steps are required by the ADA?

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

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