2015 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the equal opportunity law that’s purpose is to provide clear and comprehensive national standards to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
Before the celebrations begin in July, let’s get to know the legislation that is the ADA.
What Is The ADA?
Signed into law on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush, the ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities. The ADA guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to fully participate in everyday, American life.
The ADA grants people with disabilities the right to:
– Equal Employment Opportunities
– Purchase Goods & Services
– Participate in State and local government programs and services
In addition to equal rights, the ADA also requires fair and equal access to all public buildings, venues and establishments. According to the ADA, “…a public entity shall be designed, constructed, or altered to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities … “
Equal accessibility includes ramps on sidewalks, braille in elevators, accessible entryways, and accessible accommodations such as bathrooms and hotel rooms. The ADA also requires accessible public transportation. Fixed-route public transportation services such as rail-transit systems, commuter rails, subway systems, and public city buses must be accessible to individuals with disabilities. Additionally, public transportation agencies must provide paratransit services to pick up and drop off people with disabilities who cannot used the fixed-route services.
Who Is Protected By The ADA?
In order to be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability. The ADA defines a disability as:
1) A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
2) A person who has a history or record of such impairment
3) A person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment
Who Does The ADA Affect?
1) Individuals with disabilities and their families
2) All employers with 15 or more employees
3) Any business owner that provides goods and services to the public
4) State and local government agencies, including public schools
5) Transportation providers
6) Anyone building, designing, or remodeling construction projects
What Is The Future Of The ADA?
People with disabilities make up the largest minority group in the United States. Before the ADA, those with disabilities were required to adapt to the environment, with little assistance or support from the able-bodied community. However, the implementation of the ADA required the environment to adapt to people with disabilities.
25 years later, not only does the environment continue to adapt, but so does society. Government officials and disability advocates all over the U.S. are making more efforts, and investing more money, to ensure their cities’ public places, establishments and services are ADA-compliant. Most importantly, efforts are being made to prohibit a disability from hindering an American’s abilities.
Be sure to keep an eye out for details regarding the ADA’s 25th Anniversary celebrations in Ohio!