Background on the ADA The American with Disabilities Act, or ADA, is a civil rights law that provides protection for disabled Americans in a wide range of situations. It was enacted by President George H. W. Bush on the 26th of July, 1990 to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. Disability is generally described as a mental or physical impairment that restricts a person’s ability to perform a major activity in life, but the condition of disability may differ from one legal case to another. Mental or physical disability that is temporarily caused by substance abuse is not considered a disability. Disability Rights and Laws The ADA consists of five titles altogether, and they apply to different aspects of life in the society, including employment, public entities, public accommodations, telecommunications, and others. Title I of the ADA is related to employment, and it states that a disabled person with the necessary qualifications should not be treated unfairly by employers, employment agencies, or labor organizations. Acts of discrimination in this case may include limiting a disabled employee or job applicant, failure to provide special accommodations for an employee with disabilities, unwillingness to promote a disabled employee, and others. Title II seeks to prevent discrimination against disabled people by local and state public entities, as well as providers of public transportation services. Title III is included to ensure that people with disabilities do not experience discrimination in public accommodations, which include inns, hotels, hostels, schools, transportation, restaurants, recreational centers, stores, and others. According to Title IV of the ADA, US telecommunication companies should provide facilities that make it possible for disabled people to use telecommunication services effectively. Title V contains technical specifications that reinforce the laws of the ADA, and it provides protection against retaliation or coercion that is practiced by those who try to restrict disabled people from exercising their legal rights. ADA Guide for Small Businesses Owners of small businesses should have a good understanding of the ADA, so that they will not violate the law unknowingly. Some of the things that employers are required to do include offering equal employment opportunities to disabled people who have the same qualifications as other job applicants, ensuring that disabled employees are given equal opportunities for promotion, providing disabled employees the same benefits that are available to other employees, and preventing harassment of disabled employees in the workplace. According to the ADA, employers are not permitted to question a job applicant about his or her disability until a conditional job offer is made, and a standard medical examination must be given to a disabled applicant after he or she receives a job offer. Employers are also expected to provide accommodations to help disabled employees perform job-related tasks efficiently and give them the opportunity to enjoy the same benefits as other employees. Information on Disability Service Animals The ADA also has considerations for the service animals of disabled people. All organizations and businesses that are open to the public have to accept service animals of disabled people in their premises whenever they are in the company of their owners. Such businesses may include stores, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, health centers, parks, taxis, and others. Business owners have the right to request for the removal of the service animal from their premises if the disabled person fails to keep the animal under control or the animal is threatening the safety of other customers. Disabled people with service animals should not be asked to pay extra fees, and they should be treated as favorably as other customers. Other Resources Regarding Disability Rights