Americans with Disabilities Act

This year marks the 32nd anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, known as ADA.  This Act is in place to prohibit discrimination against any qualified individual.  As outlined on the ADA National Network site, it is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications.’

As an integral part of the healthcare landscape, let’s take a further look at what it includes.

Structure of ADA

The ADA is made up of five titles or sections.  They are:

Title I: Employment

This section ensures that people with disabilities have access to the same opportunities and benefits as everyone else.  This includes their working accommodations.  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission oversees this part of the ADA which applies to any company with 15 or more employees.

Title II: State & Local Government

This section is overseen by the U.S. Department of Justice and prohibits discrimination in all programs, activities, and services of public entities.  It is applicable to all state and local governments as well as their subsidiaries.  Also included in this section are the standards and overseeing the administrative processes for public transportation/transit systems.

Title III: Public Accommodations

Because accessibility to public accommodations is essential for everyone, the ADA establishes standards. This section of the ADA sets the standards for an individual to have that accessibility as well as the removal of any barriers that prevent access.  So this would include any person that deals with vision, hearing, and speech disabilities.  The U.S. Department of Justice oversees this section. And it is where the minimum standards for alterations and construction of new facilities are defined.

Title IV: Telecommunications

This section establishes requirements for phone and internet companies.  They must provide a system that allows individuals with hearing and speech disabilities to have telephone communication.  Also included in this section is the requirement of closed captioning of federally funded public service announcements, or PSAs.  Additionally, the requirements include that it is to be a nationwide interstate and intrastate system.  The Federal Communication Commission or FCC oversees this section.

Title V: Miscellaneous Provisions

This section covers the miscellaneous provisions.  And that includes a list of conditions that are not defined as disabilities.  It also includes information on ADA with regard to insurance providers, legal fees, and more are part of this section.

And, while HIPAA is not the same as ADA, there could be occasions when an employer would confuse the two.  Businesses that are not familiar with healthcare may reach out to a patient-provider asking for information.  And that information may be protected by HIPAA laws.  Ensuring that your business is HIPAA compliant and aware of what information can be provided and to whom is critical.  We can help to provide clarity for your business and your employees – let’s talk today!

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