ADA Impacts (Archived)

RT-050 Topic Summary
RT 050


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. The Americans with Disabilities Act represents landmark anti-discriminatory legislation on behalf of the disabled community and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in the mainstream of American life – to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services. Modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – the ADA is an "equal opportunity" law for people with disabilities. 

The purpose of this research is to increase awareness and understanding of ADA Titles I, II, and III, along with compliance flow charts of key steps and decision points in the compliance process.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : The Five Titles of ADA

Title I: Employment – This Title addresses employers to give qualified individuals with disabilities the same consideration for employment that individuals without are given. However, employers are not required to endure an undue hardship due to an accommodation or to pose a direct threat to the health and safety of the individual, co-workers, or the public. 

Title II: Public Services and Transportation – This Title addresses public entities to operate each service, program or activity such that, when viewed in its entirety, it is readily accessible and usable by individuals with disabilities. 

Title III: Public Accommodations/Commercial Facilities – This Title addresses accessibility to goods and services within places of public accommodation and new or altered commercial facilities equal to or similar to that available to the general public. 

Title IV: Telecommunications – This Title contains specific requirements for any transmittal by wire or radio.

Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions – This Title contains various requirements and includes provisions for mediation claims, no-retaliation towards those asserting their rights under ADA, specifically allows drug testing, and provides for attorney fees.

Reference: (RS50-2)

2 : ADA Gives Civil Rights Protection to Individuals with Disabilities

The population of individuals with disabilities consists of 43 million Americans with disabilities ranging from hearing impairments to physical impairments, and even to alcoholism. Most disabilities are not physical as stereotyped by the population in general. (SP50-1, p. 4)
Reference: (SP50-1)

3 : ADA Will Open the Workplace

 ADA will open the workplace to an expanded work force and make facilities more universally accessible to the entire population. (SP50-1, p. 29)
Reference: (SP50-1)

4 : Disability Definition

To be protected by the ADA, one must have a disability, which is defined by the ADA as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered. (SP50-1, p. 7)
Reference: (SP50-1)

5 : ADA Principles Should Be Used Anywhere

While the ADA is a law in the USA, the principles should be used anywhere in the world to ensure that all people having a physical or mental impairment can be afforded the same opportunities to participate in the mainstream of life – to enjoy employment opportunities, to purchase goods and services, and to participate in State and local government programs and services.
Reference: (SP50-1)

6 : Ensuring ADA Is Applied

In the USA, the law is enforced by the disabled community, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the courts. Complying with the law requires a good faith effort by ensuring that ADA is being applied in the work place, at field sites and in facility design.

There are still challenges among the general population around preconceptions and stereotypes of people with disabilities, especially with the construction industry. Lack of awareness and education surrounding companies’ obligations under the law were among the biggest challenges. (SP50-1, p. 2)

Reference: (SP50-1)

7 : Implementation Tool #1

SP50-1, Americans with Disabilities Act: Key Issues for the Design and Construction Industry

May be used as a guide for implementation. It contains general reference information on ADA, specific information on industry concerns including alternative industry approaches toward those concerns, compliance flow charts for each major title of ADA, and a reference list, all in a format that can easily be utilized as a training tool or quickly understood by senior executives.
Reference: (SP50-1)

Key Performance Indicators

Improved performance, Improved operations & maintainability, Improved safety

Research Publications

Americans with Disabilities Act - RS50-2

Publication Date: 05/1994 Type: Research Summary Pages: 22 Status: Archived Supporting Product

Americans with Disabilities Act: Key Issues for the Design and Construction Industry - SP50-1

Publication Date: 11/1993 Type: Special Publication Pages: 58 Status: Archived Tool