History of the ADA: 5 Things You May Not Know about the Americans With Disabilities Act

Nowadays as buildings are built and remodeled, and as businesses fill these buildings, the design and amenities of these buildings take into account all people. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, business in public places must comply with laws that govern accessibility for the disabled. Furthermore, the ADA prohibits discrimination against disabled folks, similar to how the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made other forms of discrimination illegal. But what exactly is the ADA? What’s in it? Here are 5 things you might not have know about the Americans with Disabilities Act.

#1 The ADA Contains the Legal Definition of a Disability

According to language in the law, the ADA defines a disability as “…a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.” The law also spells out how and when a person with a disability is or isn’t eligible for a job.

#2 There are Five Sections or ‘Titles’ to the Act

Each of these five sections relates to a major facet of everyday life. The ADA is not a simple blanket statement ending discrimination, or a list of guidelines to assist the disabled. It covers just about everything. The five titles are:

  1. Employment – Ensuring that qualified individuals are not discriminated against for things not related to the work.
  2. Public Entities and Public Transportation – This means that programs and services offered by local and state governments must be able to include the disabled. Public transportation must also be able to accommodate the disabled.
  3. Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities – This title states that any business that is open to the public may not discriminate and prevent the disabled from receiving service.
  4. Telecommunications – This title required US telecommunications companies to put in place ways for the disabled to use communications products, such as the telephone, and later, the Internet.
  5. Miscellaneous Provisions – This section covers technicalities, and also protects the disabled from retaliation and coercion for exercising their rights under the ADA.

#3 The ADA Was Controversial at Its Passing

Though no one would argue discrimination was a good thing, people did argue that the ADA would be expensive. Religious groups and churches worried about the costs to renovate their facilities. Small business owners worried whether they could afford it. The US Chamber of Commerce even said small businesses struggling to survive were most prone to the effect of the cost.

#4 Before Passage of the ADA there Was a Demonstration Called the ‘Capitol Crawl’

A crowd of demonstrators marched to the US Capitol on March 12, 1990 to demand the ADA be passed. Upon reaching the steps, many of the disabled demonstrators threw down their crutches or got out of their wheelchairs and proceeded to crawl up the steps. The crowd below cheered them on and chanted slogans in support of the ADA.

#5 Businesses Get Sizable Tax Deductions for Working to Become ADA Compliant

The law states your business must be ADA compliant. Fortunately, according to the Equal Opportunity Commission of the US, there is a tax deduction of up to $15,000 you may use to better accommodate disabled folks at your business.

Perhaps one of the best parts of the ADA is the inclusion of more people in our general talent pool in the United States. By lifting barriers for the disabled, their abilities come to light.

Check out our selection of ADA Compliance kits for your businesses.

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