ADA inclusion is an approach taken by organizations to guarantee equal opportunities to individuals with disabilities with reference to the ADA act. The Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly known as ADA, is a civil rights law that prohibits any act of discrimination against people with disabilities. Framed in 1990, it prevents discrimination in all public areas such as employment, public accommodations, telecommunications, commercial facilities, transportation, and other services, including state and local government programs.
What is ADA Compliance?
The ADA has framed various guidelines to ensure compliance by all public organizations for the benefit and welfare of people with disabilities. It is a proactive effort to make all organizations inclusive and accessible for all people. ADA compliance mandates the necessity of including all people irrespective of their disabilities in all public areas and guarantees equal opportunities in the public spheres of accommodation.
Categorizing Disability Under ADA
According to ADA, a person is considered disabled, if he or she either has, or may have, a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits their major life activities such as talking, seeing, walking, and learning. Some common examples of disabilities are deafness, blindness, wheelchair confinement, learning disabilities, and other kinds of mental illness.
Discrimination on the basis of disability occurs during the following situations.
- Treating qualified individuals unfavorably if they have a disability.
- Harassing employees with disabilities physically, verbally, and mentally.
- Failing to provide employees and job applicants with reasonable accommodations because they are disabled.
- Failing to provide employees and job applicants with equal benefits and privileges of employment because they are disabled.
What Comes Under Reasonable Accommodations?
Reasonable accommodations are modifications provided by the ADA in the job environment to support a qualified person with a disability to perform essential job functions or participate in the application process.
A few examples of reasonable accommodation are:
- Providing listening devices like hearing aid compatible headsets or noise amplification headsets for assistance.
- Providing talk-to-text and captioning for audio, phone calls, meeting recordings, etc.
- Providing access to office facilities such as ramps, elevators, lifts, and grab bars.
- Providing height-adjustable workstations, chairs, and desks.
- Providing remote work and flexible work schedules
Who Should Follow ADA Requirements?
ADA policies and regulations apply to all electronic information and technology, the World Wide Web and all its websites, all virtual businesses, and web developers.
ADA compliance applies to the following categories:
- All state and local government organizations
- All private organizations that hire 15 employees or more
- All organizations working for the public's benefit, such as transport services, schools, banks, restaurants, social service centers, accountant offices, healthcare providers, gyms, and hotels.
- Places of public accommodations
The ADA constitutes 5 titles that address different areas of public life.
- ADA Title I - Employment
The title I of the ADA emphasizes equal employment opportunities and benefits for people with disabilities. Company employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified applicants or employees. Being regulated and enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Title I also regulates medical examinations and inquiries. According to ADA title I, no qualified individual with a disability should be discriminated against based on job procedures, hiring, firing, advancement, compensation, job training, and other privileges of employment.
- ADA Title II - Public Services/State and Local Government
The Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination on basis of disability by public entities under the operation of state and local governments. This applies to all state and local departments, agencies, and other instrumentalities. The public services are required to follow the administrative processes such as requirements for self-evaluation and planning, making reasonable modifications to policies, identifying architectural barriers, and promoting effective communication with people with hearing, vision, and speech disabilities. Title II is regulated and enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice.
- ADA Title III - Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities
Title III of the ADA is also regulated and enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice. It involves the prohibition of public accommodations from discrimination against people with disabilities. This title sets the minimum standards for accessibility and requires businesses to take responsibility for eliminating accessibility barriers and providing accommodations when serving people with disabilities.
- ADA Title IV - Telecommunications
Regulated by the Federal Communication Commission, the Title IV of the ADA is concerned with enabling communication via phone by telephone and internet companies. Companies offering telephone services are required to provide a nationwide system of interstate and intrastate telecommunications relay services that allows individuals with hearing and speech disabilities to communicate over the telephone.
- ADA Title V - Miscellaneous Provisions
Title V of the ADA involves covering other provisions not included in the rest of the titles. This may include state immunity, its impact on insurance providers and benefits, the prohibition against retaliation and coercion, attorney’s fees, and illegal use of drugs. It also covers the list of conditions that are not considered disabilities.
Impact of ADA
The ADA has transformed the lives of several people with disabilities by increasing access and promoting numerous opportunities in employment and other aspects of everyday life.
- Opening Doors to Accessibility
Apart from making disability a protected class and giving the community legal recourse, ADA prohibits disability-related questions from being asked during job interviews and provides greater accessibility to public buildings and transportation. Committed to achieving equality for all its citizens, ADA also forbids requiring medical examinations before job offers and requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees and job applicants.
- Reasonable Accommodation
Under ADA, it is mandatory to provide reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities unless the employer has to face undue hardship. Establishing these practices with several businesses, ADA requires employees to comply with the law in discussions related to job offers where the nature of the disability may affect the ability of an individual to perform the essential job duties.
- Promoting Better Workplaces
Research conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management SHRM shows that before the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities was double that of their peers. After the pandemic, more than 1 million US workers with disabilities have lost their jobs which seems to be a higher rate than workers without disabilities. ADA helps to promote job opportunities for individuals by offering education and resources to build inclusive workplaces.
- Resource Center for HR Professionals
Equipped with resources to prohibit discrimination, ADA can facilitate an even playing field for both workers with disabilities as well as their counterparts with no disability who have the same qualifications. This helps HR professionals to support their workers and stay compliant.
Disability discrimination has always been a persistent workplace issue that limits goals and opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Fortunately, things have taken a turn after the implementation of ADA. The majority of the companies and organizations comply with the ADA and raise awareness of disability discrimination.
Several positive steps are being taken, such as providing ADA training, reviewing business policies, addressing feedback from employees with disabilities for creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture, and avoiding steep penalties for ADA violations.