ADA Frequently Asked Questions Knowledge Base - State and Local Government (ADA Title II)

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 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?

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

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

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

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?

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

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?

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?

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