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AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) – FAQ

When Congress passed the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, it included Section 504 which forbade discrimination against persons with disabilities by programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance, which included virtually every institution of higher education, except the U.S. military academies and a few small religious schools. This was the first civil rights statute designed to prevent discrimination against persons with disabilities and was patterned after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was patterned after Section 504. It, too,requires that individuals with disabilities may not be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination by any institution or business which is subject to the ADA. The ADA does not require that the institution receive federal financial assistance.

WHO IS PROTECTED?

Any individual who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity; has a record of having such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment is protected by the law, as discrimination has many faces. Most faculty, however, will find themselves dealing with individuals who meet the first prong of the definition -an impairment which presents a substantial limitation to a major life activity.

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT MY INSTITUTION, COMPANY OR BUSINESS?

Any institution, company or business must make reasonable accommodations in order to provide individuals with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate in the, programs, activities and services provided to the public. This includes job interviews, routine doctors visits, access to information at a conference and staff training meetings just to name a few. Businesses and institutions must make “reasonable accommodations” to ensure that an individual has an equal opportunity to participate. Adjustments may include installation of communication devices such as videophones, tty, lighting based fire alarms; certified interpreters for various meetings and trainings.

WHAT IS MY ROLE?

As a community member, you are an integral part of your Institution or company’s efforts to comply with these laws. Just as you are not free to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race,religion, gender or ethnicity, so too, you cannot discriminate against individuals with disabilities. Part of not discriminating against people with disabilities is the provision of reasonable accommodations or “academic adjustments” and”auxiliary aids and services”. Institutional compliance is a shared responsibility of which community members are a necessary part. Your employment in that capacity requires that you assist in fulfilling its compliance responsibilities in connection with the ADA as well as other civil rights statutes.

SOME LINKS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL:

  • ADA Homepage A comprehensive website for the Americans with Disabilities Act addressing all accessibilities issues and disability groups.
  • ADA Information Line: 800-514-0301
  • ADA Legal Documents The ADA as it appears in the Federal Register.
  • ADA Business Connection: Addresses the ADA requirements and its effect on businesses.
  • Tax Incentives Packet for Businesses (PDF)
  • IRS Form 8826 (PDF) To take advantage of the disabled credit businesses must file this form.

SETTLEMENT CASES FOR VIOLATIONS AGAINST THE ADA AND DEAF INDIVIDUALS

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