Americans with Disabilities Act Overview


What Is the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 provides comprehensive civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities in the areas of employment, state and local government services, public accommodations, transportation, and telecommunications.

Who Is Protected Under the ADA?

The ADA protects qualified individuals with disabilities. An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities; has a record of such an impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment. Major life activities means functions such as caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working. Under the ADA, a qualified individual with a disability is an individual with a disability who meets the essential eligibility requirements for receipt of services or participation in programs or activities. Whether a particular condition constitutes a disability within the meaning of the ADA requires a case-by-case determination.

What Is Title II of the ADA?

Title II of the ADA requires State and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities. This requirement extends not only to physical access at government facilities, programs, and events — but also to policy changes that governmental entities must make to ensure that all people with disabilities can take part in, and benefit from, the programs and services of State and local governments. In addition, governmental entities must ensure effective communication — including the provision of necessary auxiliary aids and services — so that individuals with disabilities can participate in civic life. Public entities are not required to take actions that would result in undue financial and administrative burdens. However, they are required to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures where necessary to avoid discrimination, unless they can demonstrate that doing so would fundamentally alter the nature of the service, program, or activity being provided.

City of Columbia ADA Transition Plan Update

One important way to ensure that Title II’s requirements are being met in cities of all sizes is through self-evaluation, which is required by the ADA regulations. Self-evaluation enables local governments to pinpoint the facilities, programs and services that must be modified or relocated to ensure that local governments are complying with the ADA.

An Advisory Committee was formed to assist in this effort. The committee members include representation from several disability advocacy organizations, representation from City Departments familiar with ADA issues, and representation from staff responsible for the design, operation and maintenance of roadways, which include sidewalks and pathways located in roadway rights of way within the City.

The City of Columbia’s ADA Transition Plan Update was initiated in the fall of 2009 and consists of three work phases.

The primary goal of Phase 1 is the development of an ongoing program to review City facilities – buildings, park shelters, pools, restrooms, etc. to determine the level of access, access deficiencies and possible corrective action to comply with the ADA regulations and applicable federal and state local building codes.

Phase 2 will address the ADA needs along the pedestrian facilities maintained by the City, particularly the downtown area and other major pedestrian travel corridors.

Phase 3 will look at programs offered by the City in order to ensure that people with disabilities are assured an equal opportunity to participate in the programs and activities offered by the City of Columbia.

Questions about the City of Columbia ADA Transition Plan Update Phase 1 effort should be directed to: Adam Kruse, Assistant City Counselor, ADA Coordinator at (573) 817-5024 or by email HumanRights@gocolumbiamo.com

ADA Coordinator’s Role

Title II of the ADA requires all state or local government entities with 50 or more employees to appoint a responsible person to coordinate the administrative requirements of ADA compliance and to respond to complaints filed by the public. The name and contact information for the responsible person is required to be publicly advertised.

Title II of the ADA stipulates five major administrative duties:

Publicize the name and contact information of the designated ADA Coordinator responsible to oversee compliance;

Administer and write self-evaluation of the programmatic barriers in services offered by the local government;

Establish a complaint/grievance procedure to respond to complaints of noncompliance from the public;

Develop a transition plan if structural changes are necessary for achieving program accessibility; and

Retain the self-evaluation for three years.

The City of Columbia’s ADA Coordinator is Adam Kruse, Assistant City Counselor. He can be reached at (573) 817-5024 or by email HumanRights@gocolumbiamo.com