A Brief Overview of the Five Titles under the Americans with Disabilities Act

08 Jul 2020 1:11 PM | Lora Bigcraft (Administrator)

A Brief Overview of the Five Titles under the Americans with Disabilities Act

By: Brian Elliott

          You most likely have heard the term at some point, Americans with Disability Act or more commonly referred to as the “ADA”, but do youwhite background with red an blue text. ADA 30 Americans with Disabilities Act. Celebrate the ADA! July 26, 2020 know what, where, or how it actually applies?  If you do, awesome!  This will work as a refresher and if not, no worries, I’ll share some basic details so you will at least have a better understanding of what the ADA is, along with where and how it potentially applies within daily living. (Photo Credit: ADA National Network (adata.org)

          Nearly 30 years ago, the ADA was signed into United States law on July 26th, 1990.  The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in state and local government, employment, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.  As far as addressing the core issue, what is a disability?  The ADA defines a disability as a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person that has a history or documented record of such an impairment, or perceived by others as having such an impairment.  Notice that the ADA does not specifically name all the impairments that are covered, as it is dependent on the individual.

Within the ADA, they address five Title fields:

  • ·        Title I – Employment
  • ·        Title II – Public Services
  • ·        Title III – Public Accommodations
  • ·        Title IV – Telecommunications
  • ·        Title V – Miscellaneous

          Title I focuses on employment.  Under Title I, a business with 15 or more employees must provide an opportunity for people with disabilities (PWD) to benefit from employment related prospects that are open to others.  Also established under Title I are some basic guidelines to use during the interview process of what can and cannot be asked of people prior to a job offer.  Once a PWD is hired, it is then a responsibility of the employer to consider requests for ‘Reasonable Accommodation(s)’.  These are accommodations that a PWD requests as it will allow them to do their job to the greatest extent possible.  Requests for an accommodation can be anything that allows them to perform the job functions such as an adjustable workstation that raises or lowers to allow standing or a wheelchair to fit underneath, modifications to work schedules, ability to work from a virtual setting (sound familiar?), equipment or policy modifications, and provision of services such as American Sign Language interpreters are a few examples that PWD may request.  Once a request is made, the employer has a responsibility to assess the request and provide a solution or options unless the request will cause an undue hardship to the entity. 

          Title II addresses public services that are provided by state or local government.  These services must give PWD equal opportunity to benefit from programs, services, and activities such as voting, town meetings, or recreation and social services as a few examples.  In addition, public transportation busses must be accessible for PWD.  Similarly, public services are responsible for effectively communicating with ALL people.  Including those with hearing, speech, or visual impairments.  Unless the entity can prove that a reasonable accommodation to their practice, policy, or procedure will fundamentally alter the service, program, activity or causes an undue hardship, they are expected to make an accommodation to the greatest extent possible.

          Covered within Title III are the businesses and Non-Profit service providers that are public services such as restaurants, hotels, retail stores, as well as privately owned transportation services.  These services should be prepared to effectively communicate with people that are blind, deaf, or have speech difficulties and must comply with non-discrimination that prohibits segregation, exclusion, or unequal treatment while also following the architectural standards for new and altered buildings by removing barriers in their existing buildings where possible.  An important point to remember is that Title III applies regardless of business size or employee numbers, unlike Title I which applies to businesses of 15 or more employees.

          Telecommunications under Title IV refers to phone and TV services for PWD.  Phone carriers are required to establish Inter and Intra State Telecommunication Relay Services 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  These allow those with hearing or speech disabilities to use TeleTYpe or Telecommunications Device for the Deaf, and callers with voice phones to communicate with each other via a 3rd party communications assistant. 
Also covered under Title IV are Closed Captioning services for federally funded public service announcements.

          Title V contains provisions related to the ADA as a whole, including its relationship to other laws, state immunity, impact on insurance benefits and providers, prohibition against retaliation and coercion, illegal drug use, and fees to an attorney.

          There you have it.  The five Titles under the ADA along with a brief description in layman’s terms in an effort to help provide you a baseline understanding of what the ADA is along with where, how, and who the ADA applies within our society. 

  • ·        Title I – Employment
  • ·        Title II – Public Services
  • ·        Title III – Public Accommodations
  • ·        Title IV – Telecommunications
  • ·        Title V – Miscellaneous

There are more details and information available out there and I encourage you to consult with a lawyer if you think there is an issue that needs to be addressed.  For more information and greater details within the ADA, here are a few links for references:

  • www.ADA.gov – Information and Technical Assistance on the ADA.
  • www.adata.org – Information, guidance, and training on the ADA.
  • www.askjan.org - Questions related to accommodation, ADA, and workplace issues.



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