The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a comprehensive civil rights law guaranteeing equal opportunity for people with disabilities in employment; public transportation; and public accommodations. Under the ADA, all programs, activities, and services provided by state and local government, including public transportation, are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of disability; regardless of whether the entities receive federal financial assistance. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains a website with up to date information on all aspects of the ADA.
The Act has five titles covering employment, public entities (including public transportation), public accommodations and commercial facilities, telecommunications, and miscellaneous provisions. The U.S. DOJ, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have primary federal enforcement responsibilities as the law applies respectively to private employers, state and local governments, all facilities and programs open to the public, and providers of telecommunications equipment and services. Other federal agencies with ADA responsibilities include the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Interior, and the U.S. Department of Labor.
Public transportation is covered under Title II Part B of the ADA and private transportation under Title III. The U.S. DOT Federal Transit Administration releases information, guidance and regulations on public transportation and the ADA. Design standards for vehicles and facilities are produced by the U.S. Access Board which become regulatory standards when adopted into law by the U.S. DOT.
Recommended Resources on the ADA:
- Electronic versions of the DOT regulations:
- Read 49 CFR Part 27: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance
- Read 49 CFR Part 37: Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities
- View 49 CFR Part 38: Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Specifications for Transportation Vehicles
- The Federal Transit Administration offers ADA guidance
- The Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) offers a series of topic guides on the ADA and transportation
- The U.S. Access Board develops standards for transportation vehicles, facilities and passenger vessels, as well as pedestrian networks – public rights-of-way and shared use paths.