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Illnesses and Disabilities
A number of federal laws protect the rights of people with disabilities. The main one is the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This law prohibits discrimination in four main areas:
- Employment – The ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against someone with a disability in all aspects of employment. The law also requires that employers make reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with a disability. For instance, if you have a wheelchair, your employer may be required to install a ramp or modify your workspace. Other examples or reasonable accommodations include modified work stations, flexible scheduling, and in some cases, personal assistant services.
- State and local government services and public transportation – The ADA requires that all government services be made available and accessible to people with disabilities. These services include public transportation systems.
- Public accommodations – The ADA requires that all public buildings be accessible to people with disabilities. Examples include widening aisles and doorways and installing ramps for people in wheelchairs. Another example is putting up signs in Braille for people who are blind.
- Telecommunications – The ADA requires that telephone companies provide telephone relay services to people with hearing and/or speech impairments (see Assistive technology). It also requires closed captioning of federally funded public service announcements on television.
Some other laws that protect people with disabilities include:
- Fair Housing Act – This law makes it illegal to deny housing to a renter or buyer because of a disability. Owners must also make reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. For instance, a blind person renting a property should be allowed to keep a guide dog, even if the owner does not allow animals on the property.
- Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – This law requires that a free public education be made available to children and youth with disabilities. Special education provided by IDEA is tailored to meet the unique educational needs of children with all types of disabilities, including autism, deafness, emotional disturbances, intellectual disability, and learning disabilities. The No Child Left Behind Act also protects the educational needs of children with disabilities. This law holds schools accountable for the academic success of all children, including children with disabilities.
- Rehabilitation Act – The purpose of this law is to help people with disabilities become employed and independent. Among other things, the law established Centers for Independent Living (see Everyday living).
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More information on Your rights
Explore other publications and websites
A Guide to Disability Rights Laws - This publication lists laws that protect the civil rights of people with disabilities. In addition it explains each law and provides contact information.
Accesible Air Travel (Copyright © United Spinal Association) - This publication provides information on the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 and why it is important for travelers with disabilities, their companions, travel agents, and others involved in air travel to know what to expect.
Accessibility — Equal Access to Transportation - This Internet site provides information on access to transportation, air travel for people with disabilities, and accessibility laws and regulations.
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities - The ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) provide criteria for new or altered facilities required to be accessible by the ADA. This version outlines the requirements as originally published in July 1991 and includes later supplements and revisions issued by the Access Board covering state and local government facilities (1998), building elements designed for children's use (1998), play areas (2000), and recreation facilities (2002).
Americans With Disabilities Act Home Page - this web page provides information and technical assistance with regard to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Americans With Disabilities Act: Civil Rights for People With Disabilities (Copyright © Center for Disability Rights) - This fact sheet discusses frequently asked questions about the Americans with Disabilities Act. It also provides information on Internet resources, books, and videos that can assist people with disabilities.
Equal Opportunity and Protection Under the Law - This section of DisabilityInfo.gov provides links to information on the ADA and other federal civil rights laws pertaining to people with disabilities, their families, employers, and community members.
Know the Law: A Burn Survivor's Resource (Copyright © Phoenix Society) - This booklet introduces the legal rights of burn survivors. It discusses the different forms of assistance and protection burn survivors may claim, including government benefits, worker's compensation, and support groups.
Legal Rights and Accommodations for Adults With LD (Copyright © National Center for Learning Disabilities) - This publication explains laws and regulations that protect adults with learning disabilities. It also includes recommendations that may help in the workplace.
Rights And Protection And Advocacy - This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about legal issues and mental health. It also provides links to multiple organizations.
State and Local Government (Copyright © DBTAC) - This site provides various publications about Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Understanding the Americans With Disabilities Act (Copyright © United Spinal Association) - This publication discusses basic information about the Americans with Disabilities Act and its various sections, called titles.
Vocational Rehabilitation Agencies (Copyright © Job Accommodation Network) - This site lists local vocational rehabilitation agencies, which provide a wealth of resources related to employment options for people with disabilities.
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Content last updated September 22, 2009.
Resources last updated September 22, 2009.
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