Americans with Disabilities Act

Throughout the 1970's and 1980's, Congress enacted numerous bills aimed at protecting individuals with disabilities against discrimination. Safeguards enacted included:

  • Protection against discrimination in federally assisted and federally conducted programs
  • Accessibility to facilities and programs supported or operated by the federal government
  • The right to a free, appropriate education
  • Entitlement to protection from harm in institutions
  • Access to protection and advocacy services for those who are developmentally disabled, chronically mentally ill, or severely disabled
  • The right to medically indicated treatment for infants with disabilities

In 1990, Congress approved the Americans with Disabilities Act (P.L. 101-336), a sweeping affirmation of the rights of citizens with disabilities. A disability is defined as:

  • A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of an individual
  • A record of such an impairment or
  • Being regarded as having such an impairment

The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly referred to as "ADA," is divided into five titles:


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