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ADA – What, When and Why?

  • 3 min read

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is Federal civil rights legislation designed to provide equal rights to people with disabilities as those enjoyed by the able-bodied.

When was the ADA Enacted?

The ADA was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990 and it was subsequently amended in 2008. The Amendments became effective on January 1, 2009.

Why was the Americans with Disabilities Act Passed?

Congress determined that people with mental and physical disabilities were entitled to participate in all aspects of society but found that many individuals had been discriminated against in areas such as:

  • employment;
  • housing;
  • public accommodations;
  • transportation;
  • communication;
  • access to public services;
  • and more.

The purpose of enacting the ADA was to:

 (1) provide a national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities;

(2) to provide clear, enforceable standards to address discrimination against people with disabilities;

(3) to have the Federal Government play a central role in enforcing the standards against such discrimination.

Why was the ADA Amended?

By 2008 Congress found that the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was not being interpreted and enforced by the Courts in the way Congress intended. They found that discrimination against people with disabilities persisted and enacted amendments to the ADA to improve the consistent enforcement of the standards.

The ADA is divided into Titles I, II, III and V as follows:

  • Title I – Employment;
  • Title II – Public Services;
  • Title III – Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities (The focus of these questions and answers);
  • Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions.

Congress determined that “No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.”

I will be providing a series of articles describing how the ADA affects Places of Public Accommodation in an attempt to distill the key requirements of the ADA and offer suggestions for owners, tenants, operators  and property managers about making modifications that will enable their business to be accessible to all people.

The information provided in this article is based upon my review of the Americans with Disabilities Act, The 2010 Accessibility Guidelines, the Americans with Disabilities Act Title III Regulations.  And the Title III Technical Assistance Manual. It describes what I have found to be the most common issues encountered during my ADA investigations. For a more complete review of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) please refer to the law, regulations and standards referenced, herein.

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