Disability Discrimination by Public Entities

    1. What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

    The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal civil rights law that was passed in 1990 and protects people with disabilities from discrimination. The goal of the ADA is to make sure you are treated the same as people without disabilities. The ADA contains five sections that relate to different aspects of public life such as employment, access to private businesses and telecommunications.

    2. What is Title II of the ADA?

    Title II of the ADA is the section that relates to public programs, services and activities that are provided by a public entity. Under Title II of the ADA, people with disabilities are protected from discrimination by public entities. Title II applies to such services as public transportation and public housing. See Fact sheets titled, “Accessible Public Transportation” and “housing fact sheet.”

    3. What is a Public Entity?

    A public entity is a state or local government and includes any department or agency of the state or local government.
    Examples of public entities include a city’s parks and recreation department, the transit agency, the court system and public housing.

    NOTE: The federal government is not considered a public entity under Title II of the ADA. Rather, the federal government is covered by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

    4. What does Title II of the ADA require a Public Entity to do?

    Under Title II, public entities must guarantee that their programs, services and activities are accessible to people with disabilities. That can mean that a public entity may need to change its policies and procedures, provide services at a different accessible site or ensure that its materials are accessible to people with disabilities.

    5. Where am I Protected?

    Public entities offer many types of programs, services and activities which means that you are protected from discrimination in many areas including public schools, parks, playgrounds, courts, sidewalks, libraries, police and fire stations and polling places.

    6. Do All Government Facilities Need to be Physically Accessible?

    Not necessarily. State and local government entities do not have to make each facility that existed as of January 26, 1992 (the date the ADA became effective) accessible. A state or local government can choose to instead move a program or service to an accessible location or provide services at an alternate site.

    However, if the public entity built or changed a facility after January 26, 1992, that facility must be accessible to a person with a disability.

    7. I have a Service Animal but the Library I Visit says No Pets Allowed. What Should I do?

    Public entities may be required to modify its policies and practices to ensure its programs and services are accessible to people with disabilities. If you have a service animal because of your disability, you should be able to visit the library with your animal. If the library refuses to modify its “no pets” policy and does not allow you to enter with your service animal, it may be discriminating against you.

    8. I am Deaf and Want to Attend a School Board Meeting. Do I need to Provide My Own Sign Language Interpreter?

    A public entity must ensure effective communication with people with disabilities. This means that a public entity must provide you with a sign language interpreter to participate in the school board meeting. To be sure, you should contact the school board in advance and let them know you plan to attend the meeting and request that a sign language interpreter be provided.

    9. I hear the Word “Integration” Being Used A lot. Why is it Important to Me?

    One of the goals of the ADA is to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in mainstream community life. It means that public programs, services and activities must be provided in the most integrated way possible. This can include making structural changes to existing buildings or moving programs to accessible locations.

    10. What If I Want More Information?

    If you feel that you have been discriminated against by a government program, you can call the Disability Rights Helpline of Legal Aid at Work at (877) 350-5441. You can also contact the Disability Rights Section of the Department of Justice at (800) 514-0301 or ada.compliant@doj.gov.

Disclaimer

This Fact Sheet is intended to provide accurate, general information regarding legal rights relating to employment in California. Yet because laws and legal procedures are subject to frequent change and differing interpretations, Legal Aid at Work cannot ensure the information in this Fact Sheet is current nor be responsible for any use to which it is put. Do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney or the appropriate agency about your rights in your particular situation.