ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): Everything You Need to Know

These are the national laws that safeguard people with disabilities by providing them with Human Civil Rights protection. The Americans with Disabilities Act became stipulated in law by July 1990. Understanding the ADA can make it easier for parents to get their children the help they need. ADA makes it illegal to discriminate against persons with disabilities in school, at work, and in public places.

ADA protects anybody with a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or multiple life activities. Life activities include seeing, speaking, hearing, eating, reading, learning, thinking, concentrating, and communicating. Children with executive functioning issues, LD, ADHD, and other challenges are protected by ADA. This is true even if kids are on medication or getting some other type of help. The law protects them even if they’re performing well in school or at work. It covers people with HIV, diabetes, anxiety, depression, and food allergies, and people who use wheelchairs. It also protects anybody who’s discriminated against due to a previous condition or disability. It even protects an individual others regard as having a disability. Therefore, if teachers think of a child as having learning differences, the child can be covered.

While the ADA bans discrimination nearly everywhere, it usually doesn’t apply in private settings like someone’s home. ADA works in conjunction with other laws protecting children with thinking and learning differences, such as the IDEA and Section 504. ADA sometimes offers the same protection as these laws. But generally, IDEA and Section 504 provide more protections to kids in school. For example, ADA doesn’t make schools responsible for the FAPE of all children, but IDEA and Section 504 do that.

ADA ensures that employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their so-called mental or physical impairment. This means a person cannot be fired or turned down for a job, raise, promotion, or training solely because of having, for example, a condition like dyslexia. However, the person must prove that he/she is qualified for the job and has the right skills, education, and experience.

If parents think that a school, business, or employer isn’t following ADA, they can file a complaint. To file a complaint, parents must write to the federal agency that supervises the organization. Public schools are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education. The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is responsible for employers. In other situations like sports clubs, camps, etc., parents can complain to the U.S. Department of Justice. If parents aren’t satisfied with those results, they can file a civil lawsuit.

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