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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act

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The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is federal law that grants civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.

Title I of the ADA protects the rights of people with disabilities in employment. This title defines disability, describes who is covered and who is not covered by the ADA, defines qualified individuals and covers the obligations of employers to hire people with disabilities.

Title II Part B covers access by people with disabilities to public transportation.

Title III covers access by people with disabilities to public accommodations (restaurants, shops, malls) commercial facilities, private agencies that offer examinations or courses related to licensing or certification, and transportation provided by private agencies.

Title IV makes telephone communications services accessible to people who have impaired hearing or speech.

Under the ADA 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 an impairment; or
  • is regarded as having such an impairment.

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the ADA are complimentary laws designed to protect the rights of disabled individuals. Section 504 applies to entities that receive federal funds, and the ADA applies to virtually every entity in the country except churches and private clubs. Schools that receive federal funds must comply with both Section 504 and the ADA.

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