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Americans with Disabilities Act: ADA Faqs

Published : 2009-01-04 - Updated : 2019-09-06
Author : U.S. ADA

🛈 Synopsis : ADA questions and answers regarding The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) laws. Discrimination by air carriers in areas other than employment is not covered by the ADA but rather by the Air Carrier Access Act (49 U.S.C. 1374 (c)). The ADA requires the establishment of telephone relay services for individuals who use telecommunications devices for deaf persons (TDD's) or similar devices.

Main Digest

ADA questions and answers regarding The Americans with Disabilities Act laws and bylaws.

Is the Federal government covered by the ADA?

The ADA does not cover the executive branch of the Federal government.

The executive branch continues to be covered by title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination in services and employment on the basis of handicap and which is a model for the requirements of the ADA.

The ADA, however, does cover Congress and other entities in the legislative branch of the Federal government.

Does the ADA cover private apartments and private homes?

The ADA does not cover strictly residential private apartments and homes.

If, however, a place of public accommodation, such as a doctor's office or day care center, is located in a private residence, those portions of the residence used for that purpose are subject to the ADA's requirements.

Does the ADA cover air transportation?

Discrimination by air carriers in areas other than employment is not covered by the ADA but rather by the Air Carrier Access Act (49 U.S.C. 1374 (c)).

What are the ADA's requirements for public transit buses?

The Department of Transportation has issued regulations mandating accessible public transit vehicles and facilities.

The regulations include requirements that all new fixed-route, public transit buses be accessible and that supplementary paratransit services be provided for those individuals with disabilities who cannot use fixed-route bus service.

For information on how to contact the Department of Transportation, see page 29.

How will the ADA make telecommunications accessible?

The ADA requires the establishment of telephone relay services for individuals who use telecommunications devices for deaf persons (TDD's) or similar devices.

The Federal Communications Commission has issued regulations specifying standards for the operation of these services.

Are businesses entitled to any tax benefit to help pay for the cost of compliance?

As amended in 1990, the Internal Revenue Code allows a deduction of up to $15,000 per year for expenses associated with the removal of qualified architectural and transportation barriers.

The 1990 amendment also permits eligible small businesses to receive a tax credit for certain costs of compliance with the ADA. An eligible small business is one whose gross receipts do not exceed $1,000,000 or whose workforce does not consist of more than 30 full-time workers.

Qualifying businesses may claim a credit of up to 50 percent of eligible access expenditures that exceed $250 but do not exceed $10,250.

Examples of eligible access expenditures include the necessary and reasonable costs of removing architectural, physical, communications, and transportation barriers; providing readers, interpreters, and other auxiliary aids; and acquiring or modifying equipment or devices.

Does the ADA apply to State and local governments?

Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities in all programs, activities, and services of public entities.

It applies to all State and local governments, their departments and agencies, and any other instrumentalities or special purpose districts of State or local governments.

It clarifies the requirements of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for public transportation systems that receive Federal financial assistance, and extends coverage to all public entities that provide public transportation, whether or not they receive Federal financial assistance.

It establishes detailed standards for the operation of public transit systems, including commuter and intercity rail (AMTRAK).

When do the requirements for State and local governments become effective?

In general, they became effective on January 26, 1992.

How does title II affect participation in a State or local government's programs, activities, and services?

A state or local government must eliminate any eligibility criteria for participation in programs, activities, and services that screen out or tend to screen out persons with disabilities, unless it can establish that the requirements are necessary for the provision of the service, program, or activity.

The State or local government may, however, adopt legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operation if they are based on real risks, not on stereotypes or generalizations about individuals with disabilities.

Finally, a public entity must reasonably modify its policies, practices, or procedures to avoid discrimination. If the public entity can demonstrate that a particular modification would fundamentally alter the nature of its service, program, or activity, it is not required to make that modification.

Does title II cover a public entity's employment policies and practices?


Title II prohibits all public entities, regardless of the size of their work force, from discriminating in employment against qualified individuals with disabilities.

In addition to title II's employment coverage, title I of the ADA and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibit employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities by certain public entities

What changes must a public entity make to its existing facilities to make them accessible?

A public entity must ensure that individuals with disabilities are not excluded from services, programs, and activities because existing buildings are inaccessible.

A State or local government's programs, when viewed in their entirety, must be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

This standard, known as "program accessibility," applies to facilities of a public entity that existed on January 26, 1992.

Public entities do not necessarily have to make each of their existing facilities accessible. They may provide program accessibility by a number of methods including alteration of existing facilities, acquisition or construction of additional facilities, relocation of a service or program to an accessible facility, or provision of services at alternate accessible sites.

When must structural changes be made to attain program accessibility?

Structural changes needed for program accessibility must be made as expeditiously as possible, but no later than January 26, 1995.

This three-year time period is not a grace period; all alterations must be accomplished as expeditiously as possible.

A public entity that employs 50 or more persons must have developed a transition plan by July 26, 1992, setting forth the steps necessary to complete such changes.

What is a self-evaluation?

A self-evaluation is a public entity's assessment of its current policies and practices.

The self-evaluation identifies and corrects those policies and practices that are inconsistent with title II's requirements.

All public entities must complete a self-evaluation by January 26, 1993.

A public entity that employs 50 or more employees must retain its self-evaluation for three years.

Other public entities are not required to retain their self-evaluations, but are encouraged to do so because these documents evidence a public entity's good faith efforts to comply with title II's requirements.

What does title II require for new construction and alterations?

The ADA requires that all new buildings constructed by a State or local government be accessible.

In addition, when a State or local government undertakes alterations to a building, it must make the altered portions accessible.

How will a State or local government know that a new building is accessible?

A State or local government will be in compliance with the ADA for new construction and alterations if it follows either of two accessibility standards. It can choose either:

What requirements apply to a public entity's emergency telephone services, such as 911?

State and local agencies that provide emergency telephone services must provide "direct access" to individuals who rely on a TDD or computer modem for telephone communication.

Telephone access through a third party or through a relay service does not satisfy the requirement for direct access.

Where a public entity provides 911 telephone service, it may not substitute a separate seven-digit telephone line as the sole means for access to 911 services by non-voice users.

A public entity may, however, provide a separate seven-digit line for the exclusive use of non-voice callers in addition to providing direct access for such calls to its 911 line.

Does title II require that telephone emergency service systems be compatible with all formats used for non-voice communications?


At present, telephone emergency services must only be compatible with the Baudot format.

Until it can be technically proven that communications in another format can operate in a reliable and compatible manner in a given telephone emergency environment, a public entity would not be required to provide direct access to computer modems using formats other than Baudot.

How will the ADA's requirements for State and local governments be enforced?

Private individuals may bring lawsuits to enforce their rights under title II and may receive the same remedies as those provided under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, including reasonable attorney's fees.

Individuals may also file complaints with eight designated Federal agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation.

Related ADA Documents

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Cite Page: Journal: Disabled World. Language: English (U.S.). Author: U.S. ADA. Electronic Publication Date: 2009-01-04 - Revised: 2019-09-06. Title: Americans with Disabilities Act: ADA Faqs, Source: <a href=>Americans with Disabilities Act: ADA Faqs</a>. Retrieved 2021-04-12, from - Reference: DW#520-13641.