United States Department of Justice
Statutory and Rulemaking History
Americans With Disabilities Act
On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the ADA, a comprehensive civil rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. The ADA broadly protects the rights of individuals with disabilities in employment, access to State and local government services, places of public accommodation, transportation, and other important areas of American life. The ADA also requires newly designed and constructed or altered State and local government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. 42 U.S.C. 12101 Section 204 (a) of title II and section 306(b) of title III direct the Attorney General to promulgate regulations to carry out the provisions of titles II and III, other than certain provisions dealing specifically with transportation. 42 U.S.C. 12134; 42 U.S.C. 12186(b).
Title II applies to State and local government entities, and, in Subtitle A, protects qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination on the basis of disability in services, programs, and activities provided by State and local government entities. Title II extends the prohibition on discrimination established by section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29U.S.C. 794 (section 504), to all activities of State and local governments regardless of whether these entities receive Federal financial assistance. 42 U.S.C. 12131–65.
Title III prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in the activities of places of public accommodation (private entities whose operations affect commerce and that fall into one of 12 categories listed in the ADA, such as restaurants, movie theaters, schools, day care facilities, recreational facilities, and doctors´ offices) and requires newly constructed or altered places of public accommodation––as well as commercial facilities (privately owned, nonresidential facilities such as factories, warehouses, or office buildings)––to comply with the ADA Standards. 42U.S.C. 12181–89.
On July 26, 1991, the Department issued its final rules implementing title II and title III, which are codified at 28 CFR part 35 (Title II) and part 36 (Title III). Appendix A of the title III regulation, at 28 CFR part 36, app. A, contains the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.