According to the U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation, around 48.9 million people in the United States have a disability. Most common disabilities include physical, such as blindness, mental, sensory, emotional, and developmental. A disability may be present from birth, or happen during a person's life.
In their everyday lives people with disabilities experience a lot of issues unfamiliar to people without disabilities. Imagine a blind person who needs to walk somewhere. Imagine a person in a wheelchair who needs to get to an apartment on a high floor of a building or get into a building with a lot of stairs.
The Americans with Disabilities Act is a wide-range civil rights law enacted by Congress in 1990 to protect the disabled against various forms of discrimination in all parts and aspects of life.
The law has five parts (called titles).
Part 1 is in regard to employment of the disabled, job application process, promotion of employees, job training and other job-related items. It also describes accommodations employers must provide for the disabled.
Part 2 outlines interactions of the disabled with all public entities at the state and local level, meaning access to schools and school districts, municipal, city and county programs and services. It addresses physical access to buildings. It also introduces standards for accessible design. In addition to that, part 2 of the Act covers public transportation and public housing requirements and regulations.
Part 3 of the Act deals with discrimination based on disability when using private and public places such as hotels, restaurants, stores, and places of public displays.
Part 4 of the Act explains what steps all telecommunications companies in the U.S. must take to provide services for consumers with disabilities, especially those who have hearing or speech impairment.
Part 5 of the Act includes technical provisions and expands on people with disabilities exercising their rights.