Protecting those with disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in everyday activities, such as buying an item at the store, going to the movies, enjoying a meal at a local restaurant, exercising at the health club, or having the car serviced at a local garage.
To meet the goals of the ADA, the law established requirements for businesses of all sizes. These requirements went into effect on January 26, 1992. Businesses that serve the public must modify policies and practices that discriminate against people with disabilities; comply with accessible design standards when constructing or altering facilities; remove barriers in existing facilities where readily achievable; and provide auxiliary aids and services when needed to ensure effective communication with people who have hearing, vision, or speech impairments. All businesses, even those that do not serve the public, must comply with accessible design standards when constructing or altering facilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires providers, business owners and the government provide accommodations and ensure full communication access in legal, medical, educational, employment and public access settings. Healthcare settings, legal services, workplaces, and public and private services must be made accessible to all people, regardless of disability. For those who are Deaf, Deaf-blind, or hard of hearing, often the best way to ensure full communication access is to have an interpreter.
The law and its revisions
Your obligations as a business.
The ADA covers employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations. The ADA’s nondiscrimination standards also apply to federal sector employees under section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended, and its implementing rules. An employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation to the known disability of a qualified applicant or employee if it would not impose an “undue hardship” on the operation of the employer’s business. Reasonable accommodations are adjustments or modifications provided by an employer to enable people with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Accommodations vary depending upon the needs of the 1 individual applicant or employee. Not all people with disabilities (or even all people with the same disability) will require the same accommodation. For example, a Deaf applicant may need a sign language interpreter during the job interview.