Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 FAQs

 

What is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed by President George H. W. Bush on July 26, 1990. As a civil rights law, the ADA prohibits discrimination of individuals with disabilities. To do so, the ADA ensures equal employment opportunities, requires public and private sectors to increase accessibility, and aims to provide those with disabilities the same advantages and benefits maintained by those without disabilities.

What are the main components of the ADA?

The main components of the ADA are non-discrimination of individuals with disabilities, equal employment opportunities, and the increase of accessibility around the United States.

What terminology is preferred today?

There’s no hard and fast rule – terms frequently change and vary across disabilities, regions, and generations. Few people use “challenged,” “crippled,” “handicapped,” or other stigmatizing terms because they are outdated. The best practice is to ask for individual preference.

What does disability mean?

The official government definition is as follows: an individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, has a record of such impairment, or is regarded as having such an impairment.

How many Americans are directly covered by the ADA?

According to United States census information, 1 in 5 Americans have some type of disability (note: this is difficult to verify, as disabilities can vary in severity and this statistic neglects the unreported or undiagnosed).

What led to the passing of the ADA?

The ADA ultimately expands upon various court cases and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, which enacted non-discrimination policies for individuals with disabilities in public entities. Additionally, the ADA was modeled on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its focus on eliminating both public and private discrimination, as well as in the allocation of government resources for those affected.

What does accessible or accessibility mean?

To make something accessible enables individuals with disabilities direct and indirect availability to products, devices, services, and environments.

Is there a difference between accessible design and universal design?

Accessible design references a process that is specifically designed for individuals with disabilities. Universal design is a process where the outcome is usable for anyone, exemplified by curb cuts and ramps that may be necessary for some individuals, but are used by all.

What are some everyday changes enacted by the ADA?

  • Equal employment opportunity to ensure that a qualified candidate cannot be rejected because of a disability.
  • Public transportation must have accessible cars, buses, and elevators.
  • Restaurants, museums, stores, and other establishments must be accessible – meaning proprietors must remove physical barriers, be wheelchair friendly, and comply with other ADA accessibility requirements.
  • Closed captioning has grown in use and most video services now have a system to insert captions when necessary.  
  • Telephone companies must have services for customers who are deaf.

Is equal employment opportunity the main accomplishment of the ADA?

While equal employment opportunity is a major accomplishment of the ADA, other successes include increased accessibility and non-discrimination policies in various aspects of everyday life, such as education and telecommunications.

What are the major challenges of the ADA?

There is some disagreement over the ADA as a civil rights law and the ADA as a series of safety regulations. Also, enforcement of the measures enacted by the ADA can be difficult to monitor. Another problem is that people without disabilities may be unaware of jargon (such as “accessibility” or “reasonable accommodation”), resulting in confusion and delay of action. The ADA has had a limited impact on poverty and unemployment among and violence against people with disabilities.

Why it important to learn about the ADA?

The ADA is a major civil rights bill; non-discrimination policies and equal employment opportunities are significant outcomes of the legislation. Also, the increase of accessibility and universal design influence the lives of all Americans, not just those with disabilities. It has had widespread international influence, with many countries adopting similar laws.

Where can I find more information on the ADA?  

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