1. ADA Overview

Hello, I’m Kathy Gips, the director of training at the New England ADA Center. We’re kicking off this series with an overview of the ADA.

Why did we need the ADA? Did you know that many years ago it was illegal in some parts of the country for people with certain disabilities to be in public. In 1971 a man with cerebral palsy was arrested for eating in a restaurant. Employers frequently told people who are blind not to bother to submit a job application. People who had cognitive disabilities rarely got an education.

So the goal of the ADA is to eliminate discrimination and make sure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate – getting an education competing for employment, attending a town meeting, using public transportation and registering to vote. The ADA intends to create a society where people with disabilities don’t have to live in nursing homes or institutions.. Integration is a key concept under the ADA.

The law applies to state governments, municipalities, businesses, non-profit organizations, employers and transportation providers, among others. It does not apply to the federal government because the federal government has its own law.

The ADA requires that buildings be accessible. People with disabilities must be allowed to bring service animals where other pedestrians go, if an employee has cancer the employer needs to consider reasonable accommodations such as a flexible work schedule. If a person who has low vision needs a city program brochure in large print, a city would be required to provide that.

Most accommodations won’t break the bank, but there is a balance to the law called undue financial burden. Our next few sessions will address the specific titles of the law. Title I applies to employment. Title II applies to state and local governments and title III applies to businesses and non-profit organizations. Please come back to learn more.