State & Local Governments

State and local government entities are obligated to provide individuals with disabilities access to programs, activities and services provided by state and local government.

Below are sample ADA questions about state or local governments


A student with a disability wants to take an online course and needs extended time. The student was told that he can't have extended time for online courses because the professor doesn’t want students to procrastinate until the end of the semester. What can the student do?


Both Section 504 and the ADA apply.  A student has to go through the process of providing documentation from a professional that he/she has a disability and because of the disability needs the accommodation(s), requesting the accommodation from the disability services office, and being approved for the accommodation(s).  The disability services office must provide reasonable accommodations based on the documented needs of the student not based on generalized assumptions.

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State & Local Governments Frequently Asked Questions

  • No. The elevator exemption can only be used by private businesses and nonprofits that qualify. While not every state and local government building has to be accessible, state, and local governments have to ensure program accessibility. 

  • The ADA does not require the installation of a detectable warning. However, if the project is funded by Department of Transportation (DOT), a detectable warning would be required. Check with DOT for further guidance and your state code for any additional requirement. 

  • To determine if an animal is a service animal, you may ask two questions:

    • Is the dog a service animal required beacuse of a disability?
    • What work or task has the dog been trained to perform?

    You may not ask these questions if the need for the service animal is obvious. Examples include when a dog is guiding an individual who is blind or is pulling a person's wheelchair. You also may not:

    • Ask about the nature or extent of an individual's disability 
    • Require proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal
    • Require the animal to wear an identifying vest or tag
    • Ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the task or work
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • If the start date for construction is on or after March 15, 2012, all newly constructed or altered State and local government facilities must comply with the 2010 Standards. Before the date, the 1991 Standards (without the elevator exemption), the UFAS, or the 2010 Standards may be used for such projects when the start of construction commences on or after September 15, 2010.

  • No. As of March 15, 2012, the applicable standards for alterations and additions are the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

    It is important to remember that the 1991 Standards are still relevant after March 15, 2012. Elements not altered after March 15, 2012 that comply with the requirements for those elements in the 1991 Standards, do not need to be modified, even if the new standards have different requirements for these elements. This provision is called "Safe Harbor". However, if your business chooses to alter elements that were in compliance with the 1991 Standards, the safe harbor no longer applies to the altered elements which must now comply with the 2010 ADA Standards. 

  • Effective March 15, 2012, the applicable standards for new construction and alterations for a public entity under Title II are the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

  • 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.

    Individuals have the right to file complaints against a state or local government (Title II entities) with the Department of Justice.  Complaints may be sent by e-mail or mail. Email:

    U.S. Department of Justice
    Civil Rights Division
    Disability Rights Section - NYAV
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20530

    To ensure that all necessary information is provided, an individual may use this ADA Title II complaint form: