The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

What is covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? Read on to find out..

Updated on:

August 17, 2023

The Americans with Disabilities Act is known as the ADA. The most significant piece of legislation pertaining to civil rights for people with disabilities in the United States, including web accessibility, was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush in 1990.

The ADA forbids discrimination against anyone based on their ability or disability. After a two-year campaign to advance civil rights for disadvantaged groups, including Americans with disabilities, it was established. Abolishing prejudice was a cause that disability activists and advocates fiercely fought for, and starting in 1988, they started to win bipartisan support for, federal legislation.


What is covered by the ADA?

The ADA is a fairly comprehensive piece of law that addresses a wide range of issues that covers accessibility for individuals with disabilities. You may hear the term "ADA Title III" used to refer to accessibility laws since it refers to the "Title III" of the ADA, which impacts how businesses serve customers.

Public places like schools and transit are included by ADA Title III, as are "public accommodations."  A legal definition of "public accommodations" includes establishments, hotels, theatres, medical facilities, retail stores, museums, libraries, parks, nursery facilities and practically all workplaces.


Who is considered "disabled"?

The definition of a disability underwent the most significant modification. According to the first version of the ADA, a person with a disability is someone whose condition "substantially limits major life activities." Several ADA claims, including the well-known Sutton v. United Airlines case from 1999 and Toyota v. Williams from 2002, were dismissed because the plaintiff wasn't deemed to have a handicap since courts interpreted this term in a fairly conservative manner.

The term "major life activity" was changed in the 2018 amendment to refer to routine tasks like taking care of oneself or conducting manual labour. Additionally, it was expanded to include neurological impairments as well as major bodily function impairments like those of the digestive and respiratory systems.

Who needs to comply with the ADA?

There is a major misunderstanding that the ADA only applies to very large organisations. Businesses of all shapes and sizes must adhere to ADA regulations for both their clients and employees if they have more than 15 workers. Thus, the ADA has an impact on:

·        theatres, movie theatres, and concert venues are examples of entertainment venues

·        eateries and restaurants

·        all forms of small and midsize enterprises

·        large businesses

·        retail outlets

·        Labour unions, employment agencies, and local government departments


Are websites required to comply with the ADA?

It was immediately apparent that the ADA applied to every type of business in the physical world, but it is less obvious that it also applies to websites and other online venues. The 1990 law clearly did not foresee the vast range of internet use that exists today. As a result of a variety of decisions made by American courts over the past ten years, some have insisted that websites do not meet the definition of a "public place of accommodation."

However, as websites became more significant and played a bigger part in how customers interacted with businesses, the way that the ADA was applied to web accessibility started to change. Since 2017, there has been a definite consensus that the ADA also applies to the online environment. Proponents of disability rights.

 Websites, internet portals, and online shops must all be accessible to individuals with impairments, according to disability rights campaigners, legal scholars, and judicial decisions.

In a formal letter to members of Congress in September 2018, Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd stated that "the Department initially articulated its judgement that the ADA extends to websites for public accommodations over 20 years ago. This interpretation is in line with the ADA's mandate that accommodations for the disabled be provided with equal access to all goods, services, privileges, and activities. 

Today's U.S. courts extend ADA accessibility standards to the online realm; therefore, websites must adhere to ADA regulations. 

If you feel bewildered by online laws, such as the ADA, and are not sure if your web presence is compliant, how do you get peace of mind and ensure that it is? Well, our friendly team at Green Arrow can help ensure that your web presence is fully compliant, so why not come and have a chat with us and be in the knowledge that you are fully compliant.