Americans with Disabilities Act

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American with disabilities at a glance

The acronym ADA refers to a federal law passed by the US Congress and signed into law on 26 July 1990 by President George HW Bush. The Americans with Disabilities Act consists of five titles, addressing multiple topics from employment to public accommodations, to telecommunications, and is aimed at guaranteeing the rights of American citizens with physical or mental disabilities.

ADA initially joined other similar laws, such as the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that preceded it, but the 1990 statute is credited with influencing the way spaces that everyone uses in the United States of America are still built, designed and conceived today.
The law is implemented through rules and regulations developed by executive branch agencies and administered by federal agencies including the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

An Architectural and Transportation Barrier Compliance Board, known as the US Access Board, was appointed to set compliance standards for the implementation of DOJ and DOT. The Board is an independent federal agency established by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Its original purpose was to enforce the ABA. The first standards and guidelines published in 1982 became the minimum references adopted by the ADA in 1990. In 1991, the Access Board supplemented the accessibility guidelines and published the ADAAG .
Since several guidelines had been issued over time, in September 2010, the US Department of Justice merged and harmonised everything into a single document, which has been used as the guideline for ADA compliance since March 2012.

It is useful to remember that what the ADA guidelines state is mandatory for all public buildings, but not for flats and private homes that are strictly residential. If, however, a place of public accommodation, such as a doctor's office or day care centre, is located in a private residence, the portions of the residence used for this purpose are subject to ADA requirements.

George HW Bush sign the ADA