ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments

About This Tool Kit




Give a person a fish, and you provide food for a day. Teach a person to fish, and you provide food for a lifetime.

-- Chinese Proverb



During the past five years, the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice has worked with communities across the United States to improve access to state and local government for over 3 million people with disabilities.

We found that, despite good intentions, many communities did not have the knowledge or skills needed to identify barriers to access in their programs, activities, services, and facilities. They did not know how to survey buildings to identify physical barriers. They did not know how to review programs and policies for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). They asked us to help fill their knowledge gap.

The Civil Rights Division is assembling this Tool Kit to help communities better understand the issues involved in providing equal access for people with disabilities. We encourage state and local government officials to use this Tool Kit to learn:

  • how to survey facilities and identify common architectural barriers for people with disabilities;

  • how to identify red flags indicating that their programs, services, activities, and facilities may have common ADA compliance problems; and

  • how to remove the barriers and fix common ADA compliance problems they identify.

Are state and local governments required to use this Tool Kit? No. But they are required to comply with the requirements of Title II of the ADA, which prohibits state and local governments from discriminating on the basis of disability. This Tool Kit will provide a reasonable approach to help communities achieve compliance.

The Tool Kit will be released in installments to help state and local officials begin to set up an “accessibility audit.” This first two installments of the Tool Kit include:

  • Chapter 1, ADA Basics (HTML) | PDF:
    Statute and Regulations.

  • Chapter 2, ADA Coordinator, Notice & Grievance Procedure (HTML) | PDF:
    Administrative Requirements Under Title II of the ADA. Chapter 2 includes a checklist that will help state and local officials determine if their governments are in compliance with basic ADA administrative requirements. It also includes a sample “ADA Notice” and a sample “ADA Grievance Policy” that state and local officials can use to comply with basic ADA administrative requirements.

  • Chapter 3, General Effective Communication Requirements Under Title II of the ADA (HTML) | PDF:
    Chapter 3 explains what it means for communication to be “effective,” which auxiliary aids and services can potentially provide effective communication,and when those auxiliary aids and services must be provided. It also includes a checklist (PDF) to help state and local officials assess compliance with the ADA’s general effective communication requirements.

  • Chapter 4, 9-1-1 and Emergency Communications Services (HTML) | PDF:
    Chapter 4 explains how the ADA’s effective communication requirements apply to 9-1-1 and emergency communications services. The chapter also includes a checklist (PDF) that state and local officials can use to identify common problems with the accessibility of their 9-1-1 and emergency communications services.

  • Chapter 5, Website Accessibility (HTML) | PDF
    Chapter 5 explains how Title II of the ADA applies to state and local government websites, describes technologies people with disabilities use to access the Internet, discusses website design practices that pose barriers to people with disabilities, and identifies solutions that can eliminate these online barriers. The Chapter also includes a checklist (PDF) that can be used by state and local governments to review their website policies and assess the accessibility of their websites.

  • Chapter 6, Curb Ramps and Pedestrian Crossings (HTML) | PDF
    Chapter 6 explains Title II’s requirements for providing curb ramps at pedestrian crossings, lists some key characteristics of accessible curb ramps, and discusses where and when state and local governments must provide accessible curb ramps. The Chapter outlines the steps you can take to ensure that your state or local government is complying with Title II’s requirements for accessible curb ramps and includes a checklist (PDF) your entity can use to assess your compliance. The next installment of the Tool Kit will include a survey form and survey instructions you can use to determine if curb ramps are accessible.

Watch for future installments of the Tool Kit, which will further guide communities in understanding how to review the accessibility of state and local government programs, services, and activities, and how to survey buildings and facilities to identify barriers to access for people with disabilities.

Note: This Tool Kit provides an overview of ADA compliance issues for state and local governments. While comprehensive, it does not address every possible ADA compliance issue. The Tool Kit should be considered a helpful supplement to – not a replacement for – the regulations and technical assistance materials that provide more extensive discussions of ADA requirements. It also does not replace the professional advice or guidance that an architect or attorney knowledgeable in ADA requirements can provide.




ADA Tool Kit for State and Local Governments





Last updated: October 09, 2008