The ADA protects people with disabilities who need government services
Under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), state and local governments must not discriminate against people with disabilities.
Note: The ADA does not cover programs and services provided by the federal government. However, another law, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, does cover disability discrimination by federally funded entities.
State and local governments must make reasonable modifications
Title II of the ADA requires governments to reasonably modify their policies, practices or procedures to avoid discrimination, unless a modification would fundamentally alter the nature of their service, program or activity.
A public entity must also eliminate any eligibility criteria for participation in programs, activities and services that screen out or tend to screen out people with disabilities, unless it can demonstrate that the requirements are necessary.
State and local governments must provide “program accessibility”
A state or local government must ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from services, programs and activities because buildings are inaccessible. This is known as “program accessibility.” Public entities do not necessarily have to make each of their buildings accessible. They may provide access to programs in several ways, including:
- Altering buildings
- Buying or building additional spaces
- Moving a service or program to an accessible location
However, the ADA requires that all new buildings constructed by a state or local government be accessible. In addition, when a state or local government alters a building, it must make the altered portions accessible.
- Visit the U.S. Department of Justice’s website (ADA.gov) for more information about the rights of people with disabilities and the responsibilities of state and local governments under the ADA
- View our Government Services Resources page
- Visit our Government Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page
- Get legal help
Last updated: April 10, 2014