Protections for People with Disabilities


As people grow older, they are more likely to experience a disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people of all ages who have physical or mental disabilities. The act covers individuals with a record of a disability, as well as those who are perceived as having a disability. The ADA prohibits discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications. It affords protections equivalent to those granted under prior civil rights laws to people facing bias on the grounds of race, color, gender, religion, or national origin and seeks to end a legacy of segregation and degradation. The ADA also requires employers, public officials, and private entrepreneurs to make reasonable adjustments in their policies and practices to accommodate people with disabilities. The ADA requires public agencies to provide services and care for people with disabilities in the most integrated community setting possible. This is called the integration mandate. (see also Chapter 5, Employment—Employment Discrimination Against Older Workers; Chapter 8, Long-Term Services and Supports—Expanding Home- and Community-Based Services; and Chapter 9, Livable Communities—Americans with Disabilities Act).


Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

In this policy: FederalStateLocal

The federal government should broadly interpret and vigorously enforce the ADA.

The federal government should make federally funded buildings and programs accessible to people with disabilities and should enforce the accessibility obligations of private providers of public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications.

Congress should provide adequate funding and personnel for effective enforcement of the integration mandate of the ADA.

In addition to complying with and enforcing the ADA and other federal disability rights statutes, policymakers should implement state and local disability access and other antidiscrimination requirements that mandate more comprehensive protection than that provided by federal law.

Assistive technology

In this policy: Federal

The federal government should encourage and expedite funding for priority research, demonstration projects, and referral programs for the design and distribution of technological devices that assist people with disabilities in leading meaningful and independent lives.