Brief Summary of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its Titles (Public Law 101-336)
Signed into law on July 26 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act is wide-ranging legislation intended to make American society more accessible to people with disabilities. It is the nation’s first comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities. The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, state and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation and telecommunications. While the employment provisions of the ADA apply to employers of fifteen employees or more, its public accommodations provisions apply to all sizes of business, regardless of number of employees. State and local governments are covered regardless of size.
Definition: A disability is defined as (1) a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (sometimes referred to as an actual, or present, disability (2) a record of a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (sometimes referred to as a history of a disability); or (3) being "regarded as" having a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (also described as a perceived disability). 42 U.S.C. § 12102(2) (ADA); 29 U.S.C. §§ 705(9)(B) and 705(20)(B) (Rehabilitation Act).
Access is a civil rights issue, with a moral imperative. Access to cultural programs is a legal requirement. Access laws extend civil rights similar to those now available on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin and religion to people with disabilities.
Access is a diversity issue. Section 504 and ADA promote diversity and inclusion by ensuring broader access to the arts and humanities for all people, regardless of ability. The definition of a person with a disability extends beyond those who have visual, hearing, mobility or learning disabilities to individuals with life-threatening illnesses including people with AIDS or who are infected with HIV, the AIDS virus.
Access benefits the greater population. What is an accommodation for one-person maybe a convenience for others. Many people experience temporary disabilities, and most experience the natural process of aging. A person need not self-identify as having a disability in order to make use of accommodating tools, devices or resources that will allow them to participate more fully.
Access has economic benefits. People with disabilities and older adults comprise a significant part of the U.S. population. Access provides opportunities for people to be involved in all aspects of the arts, to the fullest extent possible.
(All excerpts on this page taken from: “Accessibility and Planning for All,” https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/AccessibilityPlanningAll.pdf)