Architectural firms, telecommunications firms and businesses involved with electronic and information technology are working hard to comply with a variety of legal mandates covering accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Market forces are also at work – the “baby-boomers” being the most visible example. Given the scope and breadth of the Federal laws and growing market pressures it is necessary to introduce design principles and concepts that address increased accessibility for all individuals. This presentation is designed to provide background information on the major Federal laws that cover accessibility.
There are a growing number of reasons to accelerate the movement of accessible design into mainstream engineering. Historically, ethical concerns have dominated this movement, but now we must include market pressures and a growing number of federal laws and regulations mandating the accessibility of products and services for individuals with disabilities. This presentation will focus on the legal imperatives.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 is a major milestone with respect to accessible design. It established definitions and mandates that are dominating accessibility issues.
The various titles (I to V) of the ADA cover everything from access to the workplace, to State and local government services, to public places and commercial facilities, to telecommunications. It also covers monitoring and enforcement of the law’s mandates.
. United States Department of Justice Policy Ruling, 9/9/96: ADA Accessibility Requirements Apply to Internet Web Pages 10 NDLR 240 The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires covered entities to furnish appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary to ensure effective communication with individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration to the program or service or in an undue burden. See 28 C.F.R. 36.303; 28 C.F.R. 35.160. Auxiliary aids include taped texts, Brailled materials, large print materials, captioning and other methods of making audio and visual media available to people with disabilities. The policy ruling states that ADA Titles II and III require State and local governments and the business sector to provide effective communication whenever they communicate through the Internet. The effective communication rule applies to covered entities using the Internet for communications regarding their programs, goods or services since they must be prepared to offer those communications via an accessible medium. Specifically addressing the needs of people with visual disabilities, this policy ruling points out that providing a text format rather than a graphical format assures accessibility to the Internet for individuals using screenreaders. Without special coding, a text browser will only display the word "image" when it reads a graphic image. Moreover, if the graphic is essential to navigating the site (such as a navigational button or arrow) or if it imparts vital information (such as a table or image map) the user can get stuck and not be able to move or understand the information provided. As one user put it: When blind people use the internet and come across unfriendly sites, we aren't surfing, we are crawling ....Imagine hearing pages that say, 'Welcome to ...[image].' 'This is the home of ... [image].' 'Link, link, link.' It is like trying to use Netscape with your monitor off and the mouse unplugged. See how far you'll get. http://www.rit.edu/~easi/law/weblaw1.htm
ADA Workplace Presentation: Dealing with the Americans With Disabilities Act
Federal Laws dealing with accessibility have spawned a
collection of guidelines covering products and services
that impact most industries and businesses while
touching the lives of all people, in one way or another.
Yet accessible and universal design concepts and
principles are not finding their way into engineering
educational programs. This represents
a serious knowledge gap – one that
needs to be addressed.
The three laws which deal most directly with the accessibility of
products and services are:
•Americans with Disabilities Act a major civil rights law
prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability in the private
and public sectors.
•Telecommunications Act (Section 255) requires access to new
telecommunications and customer premises equipment where
•Rehabilitation Act Amendments amends section 508 of the
Rehabilitation Act to ensure access to electronic and information
technology in the Federal sector.
Federal Laws and the Engineering Disciplines Impacted
ons Act – Section
The Americans with Disabilities Act
(ADA) of 1990
“The ADA recognizes and protects the civil rights of
people with disabilities … prohibiting discrimination
on the basis of race and gender.
The ADA covers a wide range of disability, from
physical conditions affecting mobility, stamina, sight,
hearing, and speech to conditions such as emotional
illness and learning disorders.”
The ADA addresses:
•Title I - access to the workplace
•Title II - State and local government services
•Title III - places of public accommodation and
•Title IV - requires phone companies to provide
telecommunications relay services for people who
have hearing or speech impairments (title IV)
ADA Jobs & Workplace
The ADA (Title I) deals with:
•essential functions of jobs
•use of assistive technology
Americans with Disabilities Act: Jobs &
Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
private employers, state and local governments, employment
agencies and labor unions
From discriminating against
qualified individuals with disabilities in job application procedures,
hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other
terms, conditions and privileges of employment.
An individual with a disability
is a person who:
Has a physical or mental impairment that
substantially limits one or more major life
Has a record of such an impairment
Is regarded as having such an impairment
A qualified employee or applicant
with a disability
is an individual who,
with or without
can perform the essential functions of the job
What is a Disability? cont’d.
Impairment that substantially limits one major
life activity need not limit other major life
activities to be considered a disability.
Definition of a “major life activity” includes:
– caring for oneself
– performing manual
What is a Disability? cont’d.
Major bodily functions:
neurological (dyslexia – brain and learning
may include, but is not limited to:
•Making existing facilities used by employees readily
accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities
•Job restructuring, modifying work schedules,
reassignment to a vacant position
•Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices,
adjusting modifying examinations, training materials,
or policies, and providing qualified readers or
Disabilities & Substance Abuse
An alcoholic is protected by the ADA as
having a disability.
• [A] person who currently uses alcohol is not
automatically denied protection simply because
of the alcohol use. An alcoholic is a person with
a disability under the ADA and may be entitled
to consideration of accommodation, if s/he is
qualified to perform the essential functions of a
job. However, a[n] employer may discipline,
discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic
whose use of alcohol adversely affects job
performance or conduct to the extent that s/he is
A drug addict is protected as having a
disability only if he or she is receiving
recovery treatment and is not a current user.
Persons addicted to drugs, but who are no longer
using drugs illegally and are receiving treatment for
drug addiction or who have been rehabilitated
successfully, are protected by the ADA from
discrimination on the basis of past drug addiction.
An employer is required
to make an accommodation
to the known disability of a qualified applicant or
it would not impose an "undue hardship" on the
operation of the employer's business.
is defined as
an action requiring significant difficulty or expense
when considered in light of factors such as an
employer's size, financial resources and the nature
and structure of its operation.
An employer is not required
·to lower quality or production standards to make
·nor is an employer obligated to provide personal
use items such as glasses or hearing aids
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Titles II & III
The building guidelines cover places of public
accommodation, commercial facilities, and State and
local government facilities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The ADA mandates that information sources be
In the past, this need was met with Braille texts,
large print, captioning, and other types of aides.
With the introduction of the World Wide Web and other
telecommunications-related information sources,
however, many businesses and communities
are falling short of meeting their ADA obligations for the
accessibility of information sources including