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What is the Americans with Disabilities Act and why you should care?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) came into law back in 1990. It is all about prohibiting the discrimination against individuals that have disabilities in all areas of life. This includes the likes of jobs, schools, transportation and across all open areas to the public in general. The entire purpose of this law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the exact same rights and opportunities as everyone else in life. This is similar to what is provided to individuals on the basis of race, colour, sex, national origin, age and religion.

It is also about this equal opportunity in public accommodations, employment, transportation and through state and local government services, which is why all businesses and individuals should also care and be putting more focus on this. This ADA is all covered into five sections:

  • Title I – Employment

This opening title covers equal employment opportunity for individuals with disabilities. It means that employers must provide reasonable and fair opportunities to all qualified applicants or employees. This can also be through the application process and through online access. It is an issue that we continue to see, with businesses failing to be compliant to the guidelines, which is resulting in lawsuits coming against them. It is why businesses should make regular compliance checks to make sure that their website is compliant and providing equal access to all. This is covered in much more detail through website accessibility guidelines.

  • Title II – State and Local Government

The second title then covers the Non-discrimination on the basis of Disability in State and Local Government services. This covers all programs, activities and services of public entities. It also builds further and clarifies the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. It covers so many different areas, such as ensuring the practice and procedures are avoiding discrimination at all costs.

  • Title III – Public Accommodations

This title then covers the Non-discrimination on the basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities. This covers areas like hotels, restaurants, private schools, golf courses and even doctor’s offices. Others can include health clubs and sports stadium, which all must ensure equal access and movement around for all. This has been one of the key areas that we have seen some positive change in the last decade.

  • Title IV – Telecommunications

Then next title then focuses on internet and telephone companies, so they are enabling services for individuals with hearing and speech disabilities, so they are able to communicate over the phone. This is another area that has come under a lot of focus and improvements are being made with the growth of technology.

  • Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions

The final title then contains a number of different provisions relating to the ADA on a whole, such as through the laws, impact on insurances and benefits and the prohibition against retaliation and coercion. In this title, it also contains a list that covers a number of conditions that are not actually considered as disabilities, so it is helping with the grey areas from the previous titles.

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