Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) | Meaning and Definition

What is ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 to provide employment protections to individuals with disabilities, defined as those who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. The ADA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in many areas of life, including employment, education, government services, and access to public facilities.

The ADA’s requirements are designed to ensure that people with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in the mainstream of American life. 

5 main parts of ADA

The law has 5 main parts:

  • Title I covers employment by private companies;
  • Title II requires accessibility in state and local government programs;
  • Title III covers access to “places of public accommodation,”
  • Title IV is for Telecommunications
  • Title V is for Miscellaneous Provisions 

For qualification under ADA as an employee

ADA protection applies to employees who can meet their employer’s requirements for the job and who can perform essential job functions, with or without reasonable accommodation. 

Hiring managers cannot refuse to hire a person based on their disability. The ADA does not list all of the qualifications that an employee must have to be covered, but these two criteria are essential. When in doubt, it is always best to err on the side of inclusion and give employees the benefit of the ADA’s protections. 

Unless the employer is ready to show that providing the accommodation will create any hardship, employers must make accommodations. Unless doing so would create an unconquerable difficulty or expense.