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What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. It is a broad-based civil rights law designed to prohibit discrimination on grounds of disability. As defined by the ADA, disability includes physical and mental impairment which significantly restricts a major normal life activity. Many times when faced with disabilities, a person may wonder what their rights are and have questions. Read below where Experts have answered questions regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Can the WIAA deny a waiver under ADA regulations for an ADD child to join a program or deny a claim because medical documentation has not been provided?

The WIAA should normally grant a waiver because the claim is made on medical grounds. However, the bonus of proving medical reasons vests with the applicant. The WIAA is well within its rights to deny a waiver till the medical condition is established, supported by appropriate documentation and medical records including a doctor’s report. The WIAA is obliged to keep these records confidential. They insist on records to avoid malpractices and issue of waivers based on false and unsubstantiated claims.

Is it discrimination under ADA if a student with disabilities has been denied the use of a golf cart for campus mobility?

Public universities have an obligation to provide, on request, reasonable accommodations to students with diagnosed disabilities. But they also have an obligation to protect the student body and avert dangerous situations. The disability director of the university should be asked to provide an alternate means of transportation which suits the student and conforms to university policy. If no solution is offered, the student can file a suit for discrimination but would have to prove discrimination and that the accommodation requested is reasonable.

What can a parent do if the school bus does not accommodate an autistic child’s needs?

The school has a responsibility to make reasonable accommodations beyond what it currently provides under ADA regulations to get the child to school without major issues. The parents/guardian should address the school superintendent through a certified letter with a return receipt explaining the situation and requesting an early written response. The letter should mention that under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and under the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act the school must provide reasonable accommodation. A discreet mention might be made that if no reasonable accommodation is forthcoming the situation will be brought to the notice of the enforcement wing of the ADA. Allow the school five school days to make appropriate accommodation after which the parents/guardian should contact ADA enforcement which comes under the U.S. Justice Department.

What ADA options are available for a Doctoral student with a disability attending a professional school that is not providing agreed accommodations?

Under ADA regulations the school is obliged to provide reasonable accommodation for the student’s disabilities. The fact that it has given a proposed plan followed by a signed agreement but not adhered to it is a violation of the ADA Act for which the school is open to a lawsuit. The student can contact a local education law attorney to pursue a claim. The lawsuit could cite violations of the ADA and ask for damages which can include the cost of education as well as damages for emotional distress and anything else the student has suffered. The suit may include breach of contract.

Are employers bound by any ADA provisions for a parent who is the sole caretaker of a disabled child?

ADA prohibits discrimination of a person because of association or relationship with another of known disability. A court has ruled that the employer is under no obligation to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee because of his/her association or relationship with a person with disabilities. However, the employer cannot discriminate against the employee for this association. The ADA was enacted to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities by protecting them from discrimination. But there are many misconceptions surrounding its interpretation. 

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