The Governor’s Commission on Disabilities in Rhode Island provides an overview of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. The ADA was signed into legislation on July 26, 1990. This is a comprehensive civil rights law prohibiting discrimination in employment, local or state government programs, commercial facilities, public accommodations, telecommunications or transportation on the basis of disability. The ADA defines a disability as someone with a physical or mental impairment that significantly limits major activities in life.
Understanding the ADA
Major life activities include functions important to everyday life, including waiting, walking, communicating, breathing, hearing and seeing. The ADA definition includes those with a record of such an impairment, even if they don’t currently have the disability. If someone isn’t disabled but is regarded as having a disability, they still qualify under the ADA. It’s also unlawful to discriminate against someone based on their association with a disabled person. Generally speaking, everyone who meets the ADA definition of disability is covered under the law.
Impairments and what is not covered
A record of disability includes any history of substantial impairment, even if it was a misclassification or is no longer current. Being regarded as having a disability is defined as having an impairment that does not substantially limit life activities, an impairment that limits life activities only as a result of others’ perceptions or doesn’t have an impairment but is treated by an entity as if they did. A section of the ADA focuses solely on discrimination at work.
Some disabled people may not be covered by the ADA. If someone with a disability is not employed and not seeking employment, they may only be covered by certain parts of the ADA. The law is divided into five sections referred to as titles. The tiles cover employment, state or local programs, places of public accommodation, telecommunications and miscellaneous provisions that include attorney fees and retaliation.