When we hear the word “accessibility”, especially within the localization industry, we tend to focus on accessible documents and web content. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers more than websites and written publications.

Here is a breakdown of the scope of the ADA regulation:

First of all – what is considered a disability?

The ADA defines the term “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities for an individual. The condition can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. Under this definition, some examples of disabilities included in the ADA are deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, mobility impairment, ADHD, HIV, bipolar disorder, cancer, depressive disorder, schizophrenia, among other conditions. The ADA does not cover conditions that result in illegal activity or are considered anti-social, such as pedophilia, kleptomania, or exhibitionism. Gender identity and sexual orientation are no longer considered disorders and are therefore excluded from ADA protection.

Now, the ADA covers persons with disabilities against discrimination through its five sections:

Title I – Employment

This section of the law protects individuals with disabilities against discrimination in the workplace. The title guarantees equal employment opportunities and benefits for people with disabilities, under any employer with 15+ employees. This includes private entities, State and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions.

Title I is regulated and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Title II – Public Services

The second title prohibits discrimination based on disability by all public entities. This includes all programs and services offered by state and local governments, as well as public transportation and housing.
Title II is enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

Title III – Public Accommodations and Services Operated by Private Entities

This section covers against discrimination in places of public accommodation, which include privately owned, leased, or operated facilities like hotels, restaurants, retail shops, doctor’s offices, private schools, movie theaters, and similar services. It also sets standards for accessibility when building commercial or privately owned facilities, and for businesses to communicate effectively with customers with disabilities.
Title III is enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Title IV – Telecommunications

The fourth title requires telephone and Internet companies to provide telecommunication systems that allow individuals with hearing or speech disabilities to communicate over the phone. This title led to the installation of public teletypewriter machines (TTY), as well as other Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD).
Title IV is regulated by the Federal Communication Commission.

Title V – Miscellaneous Provisions

Finally, Title V contains a variety of provisions that relate to the ADA as a whole, like its relationship to other laws, a list of conditions that are not considered disabilities, among other factors.

So now you know a little bit more of how the law can help us create a more accessible environment across all entities. You encounter and use ADA-compliant services, transport, files, websites, and many other resources every day: whether you benefit from accessibility directly or not, remember that it makes our society more democratic and inclusive for all of its members.

An Overview of the Americans With Disabilities Act | ADA National Network (adata.org) 
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, AS AMENDED with ADA Amendments Act of 2008

From the desk of: Mariana Salamanca Vázquez, Project Manager at Avantpage.