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Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) OF 1990?

Signed into law on July 26, 1990 by then President George W. Bush Sr., the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) aims to promote full and equal participation to the millions of disabled Americans. It guarantees equal opportunity for disabled individuals in matters of employment, public facilities, transportation, state and local government services and even telecommunications.

Highlights of the Act as set forth by the U.S. Department of Justice are as follows:

EMPLOYMENT - TITLE I

Employers may not discriminate against an individual with a disability in hiring or promotion if the person is otherwise qualified for the job.
Employers can ask about one's ability to perform a job, but cannot inquire if someone has a disability or subject a person to tests that tend to screen out people with disabilities. Employers will need to provide "reasonable accommodation" to individuals with disabilities. This includes steps such as job restructuring and modification of equipment. Employers do not need to provide accommodations that impose an "undue hardship" on business operations.

Employers may reject applicants or fire employees who pose a direct threat to the health or safety of other individuals in the workplace.

Applicants and employees who are current users of drugs have no right to claim discrimination on the basis of their illegal drug use under the ADA.
 

Drug testing is not prohibited by the ADA.

Employers may not discriminate against a qualified applicant or employee because of the known disability of an individual with whom the applicant or employee is known to have a relationship or association.

Religious organizations may give preference in employment to their own members and may require applicants and employees to conform to their religious tenets.

ADA provides the remedies available under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They include back pay and court orders to stop discrimination.

Complaints may be filed with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Who needs to comply:

  • Employers with 25 or more employees must comply.

  • Employers with 15-24 employees must comply.
     

STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS - TITLE II

State or local governments may not discriminate against qualified individuals with disabilities. All government facilities, services, and communications must be accessible consistent with the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Individuals may file complaints with Federal agencies to be designated by the U.S. Attorney General or bring private lawsuits.
 

TRANSPORTATION - TITLE III

Public Bus Systems:
New buses ordered on or after August 26, 1990 must be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

  • Transit authorities must provide comparable paratransit or other special transportation services to individuals with disabilities who cannot use fixed route bus services, unless an undue burden would result.

  • New bus stations must be accessible. Alterations to existing stations must be accessible. When alterations to primary function areas are made, an accessible path of travel to the altered area (the bathrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving that area) must be provided to the extent that the added accessibility costs are not disproportionate to the overall cost of the alterations.

  • Individuals may file complaints with the U.S. Department of Transportation or bring private lawsuits.

  • ADA provides the remedies available under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Public Rail Systems:

  • New rail vehicles ordered on or after August 26, 1990, must be accessible.

  • Existing rail systems must have one accessible car per train by July 26, 1995.

  • New rail stations must be accessible. As with new bus stations, alterations to existing rail stations must be made in an accessible manner.

  • Existing "key stations" in rapid rail, commuter rail, and light rail systems must be made accessible, unless an extension of up to 20 years is granted (30 years, in some cases, for rapid and light rail).

  • Existing intercity rail stations (Amtrak) must be accessible by July 26, 2010.

  • Individuals may file complaints with the U.S. Department of Transportation or bring private lawsuits.
    Privately Operated Bus and Van Companies:

  • New over-the-road buses ordered on or after July 26, 1996 (July 26, 1997, for small companies), must be accessible. After completion of a study, the President may extend the deadline by one year, if appropriate.

  • Other new vehicles, such as vans, must be accessible, unless the transportation company provides service to individuals with disabilities that is equivalent to that operated for the general public.

  • Other private transportation operations, including station facilities, must meet the requirements for public accommodations.

  • Individuals may file complaints with the U.S. Attorney General or bring private lawsuits under the public accommodations procedures.
     

PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS - TITLE IV

  • Public accommodations such as restaurants hotels, theaters, doctors' offices, pharmacies, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, private schools, and day care centers, may not discriminate on the basis of disability. Private clubs and religious organizations are exempt.

  • Reasonable changes in policies, practices, and procedures must be made to avoid discrimination.

  • Auxiliary aids and services must be provided to individuals with vision or hearing impairments or other individuals with disabilities, unless an undue burden would result.

  • Physical barriers in existing facilities must be removed if removal is readily achievable (i.e., easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense). If not, alternative methods of providing the services must be offered, if those methods are readily achievable.

  • All new construction in public accommodations, as well as in "commercial facilities" such as office buildings, must be accessible. Elevators are generally not required in buildings under three stories or with fewer than 3,000 square feet per floor, unless the building is a shopping center, mall or a professional office of a health care provider.

  • Alterations must be accessible. When alterations to primary function areas are made, an accessible path of travel to the altered area (and the bathrooms, telephones, and drinking foundations serving that area) must be provided to the extent that the added accessibility costs are not disproportionate to the overall cost of the alterations.

  • Entities such as hotels that also offer transportation generally must provide equivalent transportation service to individuals with disabilities. New fixed-route vehicles ordered on or after August 26, 1990, and capable of carrying more than 16 passengers, must be accessible.

  • Public accommodations may not discriminate against an individual or entity because of the known disability of an individual with whom the individual or entity is known to have a relationship or association.

  • Individuals may bring private lawsuits to obtain court orders to stop discrimination, but money damages cannot be awarded.

  • Individuals can also file complaints with the U.S. Attorney General who may file lawsuits to stop discrimination and obtain money damages and penalties.
     

TELECOMMUNICATIONS - TITLE V

  • Companies offering telephone service to the general public must offer telephone relay services to individuals who use telecommunications devices for the deaf (TDD's) or similar devices.

  • Individuals may file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission.

        For more information on the ADA:

  • All of the information above is available from the U.S. Department of Justice in the following accessible formats: Braille, large print, audiotape, and electronic file on computer disk. For more information call (800) 514-0301

  • The information in this Fact Sheet is taken from two U.S. Department of Justice documents: ADA Requirements Fact Sheet and ADA Statutory Deadlines. These documents are available at no cost from the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Divison, Coordination & Review Section, P.O. Box 66118, Washington, DC 20035-6118. PHONE 202/514-0301, TTY 202/514-0381 or 202/514-0383.  ADA Specialists are available on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, & Friday 9:30 A.M.-5:30 P.M., on Thursday 12:30 P.M.-5:30 P.M. (Eastern Time) Spanish language service is also available. Closed on all National Holidays.

  • For additional information and answers to questions, contact the U.S. Department of Justice at the address or telephone numbers above.

  • Copies of the full 90-page Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 may be obtained at no cost from the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Disability Rights Section - NYAV, Washington, DC 20530. Phone (800) 514-0301 or TTY (800) 514-0383. Automated service, which allows callers to order publications by mail or fax, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

2. What can be done to prevent people who are not disabled from parking in designated spaces for disabled drivers?
  
You can telephone the ADA/U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration Assistance line for regulations and complaints, (888) 446-4511 (voice/relay), or by visiting their web site at www.fta.dot.gov/ada. You should also contact your mayor's office for people with disabilities, as well as parking enforcement division of the police department.

3. I have recently become disabled and unable to hold down "normal" jobs, what do I do now?
  
You can call the local office of the department of vocational rehabilitation and request an appointment with a counselor. You should have available all the documentation of your disability. This agency will evaluate your abilities and provide you with education and/or training for different employment, you may also contact the Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment & Policy at (877) 872-5627.

4. I have been trying to seek employment and believe that I am being discriminated against because of my disability (I am a paraplegic). Do you have any ideas for me?
  
You can call the U.S. Department of Labor at the telephone number given in the previous questions response. Now, if you believe that discrimination is behind all this, if you believe that you are a victim of discrimination you may call (FOR JOB DISCRIMINATION ONLY) (800) 526-7234, or Contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (202) 663-4900 or call (800) 669-4000 (voice) or for TTY (800) 669-6820 to reach the field office in your area. You know that as a person with a disability, you have rights under the ADA of 1990. You can call 1-800-514-0301 and speak to an expert on the law.

5. I am looking for a school for my child who has a disability.
  
You can call the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHY) at 1-800-695-0285. If the disability is cerebral palsy, you can contact the United Cerebral Palsy Association at 1-800-872-5827 and ask if there is a local chapter in your city or county. Such a group would be an excellent source for support and advocacy.

6. Medicare pays for my physician's visits, but only very little for my medication, where can I obtain additional funding?
 
There is a Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Program that publishes a directory of manufacturers of various drugs that participate in this program. If you are unable to apply personally, you may have your physician apply for assistance on your behalf. The address is as follows:

Pharmacology Manufacturers & Research of America 1100 Fifteenth St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005

7. There are many people with disabilities in this town but the local government does not have any interest in providing any accommodations in public buildings. What can I do?
  
Many communities have ADA compliance specialists whom you can contact. Or contact D.R.A.G. Inc., at (215) 477-4956, or visit our File A Complaint Section on the site, and complete the Complaint Form, and click on submit for our assistance.
  

Disabilities Rights Advocacy Group, Inc.
Phone/Fax:(215)477-4956
Email:
bruce.mcelrath@draginc.com
www.draginc.com

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