The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it possible for disabled individuals to live a life of freedom and equality. Passed by Congress and signed into law by the President on July 26, 1990, the ADA is the first comprehensive declaration of equality for people with disabilities. This is a federal civil rights law that makes it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities. This law applies to situations or locations including school, work and public places. ADA states that anyone with a disability is someone who experiences “physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more life activities.” Life activities can include speaking, hearing, seeing, learning, reading, concentrating, thinking, and/or communicating. ADA protects children with ADHD, learning disabilities and even food allergies.
The ADA also protects the civil rights of people with disabilities in all aspects of employment, the access of public services such as transportation, and guaranteed access to public accommodations such as restaurants, stores, hotels and other types of public locations.
How ADA works in the lives of individuals with disabilities
Because many of ADA’s objectives overlap with IDEA and 504, ADA can be used in conjunction with IDEA and 504. While IDEA and 504 offer more protection than ADA in a school setting, ADA helps with outside activities and camps not run by your school that your child may participate in. After school activities at school are covered under Section 504.
ADA requires camps, Little Leagues, trade schools, and testing agencies (SAT/ACT) to provide “reasonable” accommodations to children with disabilities. Remember that “reasonable” is the key word. ADA is very important when your child grows up.
ADA states that people don’t have to disclose their learning issues to employers, as long as they don’t expect any extra help or assistance. Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of a physical or mental impairment. They cannot be fired, nor can they be turned down for a promotion or raise solely because of their condition. Employers also cannot ask employees about their condition. However, your child/employee must prove he/she is qualified for the job and have the skills and education necessary for that job. To receive reasonable accommodations, your child/employee must make a request for such accomodations in writing.
Employers may deny requests for reasonable accommodations if the request would cause an “undue hardship” upon the company. As with IDEA and 504, if you wish to file a complaint, there are resources to do this.
If you think your child’s rights were violated in school, you should write to the US Department of Education. If it is a workplace complaint, you should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If it is a complaint at a camp, club, or testing agency, you sould contact the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mor Resources about ADA: