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Know Your Rights Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Many older persons have one or more physical or mental impairments that affect their daily lives. Due to the lack of information or even embarrassment, some people may be reluctant to ask for accommodations that could allow them to take part in a variety of activities.

We all need varying degrees of assistance — from birth and early childhood on into later years. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created to ensure that all Americans, regardless of abilities, have access to the entire fabric of our rich culture — be it business, government, recreation, or service.

The ADA was enacted in 1990, yet research indicates that most older persons, many of whom could benefit from the Act, are unaware of it. Here is a brief overview of the law that could help make the world more accessible to YOU!

The law protects persons with disabilities: anyone has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as seeing, hearing, breathing, walking, learning, working, speaking, caring for oneself, or performing manual tasks.

Employers with 15 or more employees cannot discriminate against persons with disabilities and must make reasonable accommodations to enable otherwise qualified individuals to perform duties.


There are a number of approaches you can take:

* You can contact the business or service and try to resolve the matter informally by explaining your needs and what the DA requires.
* If it’s a government office with 50 or more employees, the law requires that a grievance procedure be established for filing a complaint against that agency.
* You can explore alternative dispute resolution options, such as mediation, that may be available in your community. Check with the court or your local bar association for referrals.
* You can file a complaint with the Department of Justice. For complaints regarding state or local government programs and services, you must file within 180 days of the time the discrimination occurred.
* If you think you have been discriminated against by a potential or current employer, you must file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days.
* You can file a lawsuit. You should probably contact an attorney before filing suit for advice and representation if necessary. If your complaint concerns an employment matter, you must file a complaint with the EEOC before going to court.

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